Aligning Sales and Marketing has always been a major challenge for B2B companies.
Overall, industry surveys show that B2B marketers understand their primary goal is to support Sales’ objectives. But misalignment still occurs due to a whole range of factors. For example, there are vast organizational and operational differences between most Sales and Marketing teams, which are often compounded by the use of disparate, unintegrated technologies.
But perhaps the most critical point of misalignment occurs around data. Too often, Sales and Marketing are sourcing their customer and prospect information from different places — and then keeping them siloed in CRMs and Marketing Automation Platforms respectively.
And while many companies have managed to plod along in spite of that misalignment until now — taking the operational inefficiencies and lower ROI in their stride — the emergence of two trends in recent years has made alignment an absolutely necessity.
1. The Rise of the Data Economy
Today’s Sales and Marketing teams live and die by their data. It’s very simple: poor-quality data = bad results.
This is true even without considering Sales-Marketing alignment. Stale data means higher email bounce rates, and makes more expensive marketing channels like online ads and direct mail in particular impossible to pull off effectively. The same goes for Sales: if you don’t have the right contact details or current place of employment, for example, you’re going to waste a lot of time and have little to show for it.
But where data is important for each department individually, it’s even more central to coordinating between them. Today, data is the common language between Sales and Marketing. For example: When an inbound lead comes in, is it an SQL, an MQL, or not qualified at all? If it’s Sales Qualified, who should it be routed to? The only way to get that lead qualification and routing process right is by aligning on the data.
2. Account-Based Marketing
The widespread adoption of ABM has given added importance to data, particularly in the outbound context. Outbound data acquisition has always been a challenge: buying lead or account lists the old-fashioned way means opening the floodgates to bad, incomplete and duplicate information into your databases.
ABM has enabled a far more targeted, scalable approach to outbound — but, you guessed it, only if Sales and Marketing are aligned on the right data.
On the most elementary level, you can’t run an ABM campaign if your Sales and Marketing teams can’t agree on which accounts to target.
But it’s more than just drawing up the right named account list. Your ABM marketing campaigns and sales outreach need to be aligned on every level: From who to target, to how (i.e. what messaging) and when. To get this right Sales and Marketing need a single source of truth for firmographic and demographic data, as well as for more complex intelligence like intent signals and customer scoring models.
Of course, in addition to agreeing on the right accounts, Sales and Marketing sldo need to engaging the right individuals within those accounts through personalized marketing and ad campaigns, sales plays, and SDR outreach, using content personalized for those target personas. If Sales and Marketing aren’t aligned on who those individuals are and what pain-points they need to be addressing, your account engagement will be far less effective.
Sales and Marketing Ops: The Power is in Your Hands
The good news is that with data so central, it’s never been clearer where the point of alignment between Sales and Marketing lies — with the gatekeepers of that data: Sales and Marketing Operations.
At Leadspace we’ve had the opportunity to see how some of the best B2B Marketing and Sales Ops teams out there handle this challenge.
At NVidia, for example, their Sales and Marketing Operations teams decided to establish Salesforce as their point of alignment. Sales and Marketing Ops meet regularly and have open lines of communications, to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Timo Allison, Head of Digital Lead Management & Enterprise CRM at Nvidia talks more about this in the video below.
This option won’t work for everyone, of course. For example, in some large enterprise companies there may be multiple Sales and Marketing organizations. Sometimes, it can just be a matter of bureaucracy getting in the way.
In such cases, the solution may be to connect data silos though what SiriusDecisions calls “virtual integration” — a practice studies show leads to increases of up to 12.5% in conversion rates (more on that here).
One such up-and-coming technology is the Customer Data Platform (CDP). We’ve seen firsthand how our customers have benefited from applying this previously “B2C” model of data management and execution.
But whatever route you take, it’s clear that in today’s data-centric B2B world, it’s the Operations people who hold the key to Sales-Marketing alignment.
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