A 5-Step Action Plan for Sales and Marketing Alignment

B2B sales and marketing alignment

B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment 2.0

A former colleague of mine just started a job where she was required to stand up and deliver a sales presentation to the sales leadership team. That wouldn’t be unusual for a new salesperson – but she’s a marketer. And the experience of walking in the sales team’s shoes made her a better one.

B2B companies talk a lot about sales and marketing alignment, but talk will only get you so far. Companies need to take action to get their sales and marketing teams empathizing with each other, strategizing together, and working from the same playbook.

It’s a critical time for sales and marketing alignment. The benefits have never been greater. As technology and data transform business, new opportunities are emerging every day for the savviest B2B companies to boost lead quality, close more deals, strengthen their brands and improve their work culture through tighter teamwork.

So how to get from here from there? If you take the following action steps, you’re all but certain to enjoy stronger B2B revenue growth this year.

Action 1: Plan together

Most companies have already conducted their 2019 planning meetings, but if you haven’t, now is the time. And even if you have, you shouldn’t stop there. Before the holidays, be sure to put four quarterly sales and marketing planning meetings on your calendar for next year.

A lot of change can happen over the course of a year, so it’s important to have an in-depth planning session at least quarterly. This is a chance for B2B sales and marketing teams to sit together and review sales objectives for each time period. Then you can agree on how the strategic marketing plan can best support those objectives, from corporate and field events to high-value content.

Action 2: Walk in their shoes

Aligning goals and tactics is an important start, but for greater impact, marketing needs to truly understand the hurdles salespeople face every day.

Marketing tends sometimes to lean toward the aspirational, but sales enablement requires a more down-to-earth approach. It’s important that marketers attend regular sales team meetings – yes, every week — and hear firsthand what is working, what is not, what prospective customers truly care about, and what key questions marketing absolutely needs to answer.

As my friend’s experience above illustrates, having B2B marketers stand and deliver a sales presentation is a great way to enhance their understanding of how well their own slides work in practice, not just in theory. Actually telling the story is the best way to gauge how each piece connects with different audiences while identifying any gaps.

Sales, for its part, should appreciate that marketing is tasked with a longer-term, strategic role in growing the company, the brand, and its customer relationships.

Particularly as subscription-based SAAS becomes the dominant revenue model, topline growth is driven less by closing a few big deals and more by long-term nurturing that paves the way for customer loyalty and successful cross-selling and up-selling.

It takes mutual respect flowing both ways to fully leverage the strengths of both sales and marketing – so everyone can reap the benefits of these opportunities.

Action 3: Connect top to bottom

Sales and marketing alignment at the executive level is not enough. The entire organization, from the c-suite to operations to customer-facing field staff, should know each other and have regular conversations. If this isn’t happening, now is a good time to make those introductions.

Action 4: Pay for what you get

Typically sales teams are compensated based on meeting and exceeding revenue targets, while marketers aren’t ­– but it doesn’t have to be that way. Some B2B companies have started rewarding marketers for KPIs like deals influenced or deals sourced. Good CRM tools are making it possible to track the effectiveness of specific pieces of digital content, making detailed ROI measurement – and rewarding the content creators — more feasible.

Action 5: Lean heavily on your brand

As sales and marketing alignment gains steam, brand makes even more of a difference. It gives both sides a common understanding and shared language as they essentially co-create the B2B brand experience.

The most successful sales and marketing partnerships are aligned in their commitment from top to bottom – from their brand’s highest-level vision to its most tactical tools.

By nurturing mutual respect and leveraging the strengths of both the sales and marketing teams, your company will be set up for greater success in 2019 and beyond.

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco Brand Strategy firm working with high-growth technology companies. Learn more about our work with high-growth technology companies here.

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