Even with excellent strategic planning processes, most companies are not fully aligned on critical business and marketing goals and how to get there. Misalignment of marketing and sales is legendary! It’s critical to fix this natural gap, and I’d like to suggest stakeholder interviews and a service-level agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales could be the answer.

When it comes to lead generation, marketers and sales reps are especially misaligned. According to Hubspot statistics, 52% of marketers say they provide salespeople with the best quality leads, while salespeople rank marketing-sourced leads last. This makes sense in a way, because marketers and salespeople by nature approach potential customers from different perspectives.

Marketers are focused on prospects early in the process, because they believe careful development of relationships leads to solid sales and loyalty. Salespeople are more focused on the moment of decision – at the resolution of the relationship. To bring the two together, ask sales and marketing stakeholders to sit down for goal alignment interviews.

Ask the following critical questions to first understand current sales and marketing perspectives, then agree on a cohesive approach:

What does marketing mean to you?

This helps establish a universal understanding around which you can focus all marketing efforts.

What is your greatest marketing challenge?

As you can imagine, marketing and sales personnel likely will offer different answers. Hearing one another’s answers helps everyone understand the big picture.

What have you tried that did or didn’t work?

This has to be measurable – individual perceptions tend to be colored by experiences and biases.

What are your company goals for the year?

Marketing and sales may see goals and tactics differently. The answers will help your team adjust.

Who are your ideal customers?

If marketing and sales understand ideal customers differently, the marketing machine will fall apart.

What are your customers’ needs and buying processes?

Answers must be specific to help you understand where there may be misalignment.

Who is the competition, and how do your products/services compare in customers’ minds?

The answers will help you identify misunderstandings and create a clear strategy everyone can follow.

Once you understand marketing and sales perceptions of your business goals, then it’s important to establish a process for forging and maintaining alignment.

Here are three things that must be defined between sales and marketing teams:

  • Planning process. Create a formal workflow accommodating both marketing and sales.
  • Team meetings. Must be at least weekly to get results.
  • Meeting agendas. Create a formal agenda for each meeting, including desired outcomes for that meeting. Begin with a review of the sales and marketing scorecard — what’s working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, stop and resolve the issue.

Hubspot statistics show marketers with a formal service level agreement (SLA) believe their marketing strategy is effective, but only 26% of respondents have such a formal agreement.

Which group does your organization fall into? Maybe it’s time to make sure you are one of the smart ones with a well-vetted SLA. Reach out to a CMO today and discuss how stakeholder interviews can help align your sales & marketing objectives. Contact Us Today!

About the Author:

Jamie is a results-driven marketing leader with 20+ years of success developing strategic plans and innovative multi-channel marketing programs. Over her career she has helped B2B organizations with all aspects of marketing, including branding, corporate communications, public relations, content strategy, web, marketing automation, social media, digital/SEO and event marketing.

Jamie is based in the Washington DC Metro area and has orchestrated go-to-market strategies for clients in the professional services, training, government, information technology and financial services sectors.

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