The stereotypes about the sales and marketing relationship are so well entrenched that both sides almost embrace them, and even laugh about them. Sales is demanding, marketing is flighty; sales is intense, while marketing is creative. When it comes to working together, the two sides clash: Marketing hands leads over to sales, who can’t convert many of them and concludes that marketing is incompetent. Meanwhile, marketing sees sales closing few deals and concludes that the problem is that sales can’t sell. Both sides think the other is the problem, and the cycle continues.Sales and Marketing alignment

In reality, there’s more nuance involved; the problems start with communication. Unless both sales and marketing are working from common definitions (what’s a qualified lead?) and common goals (do we want to pass higher numbers of leads or better qualified leads?), things can get complicated and emotions can run high.

We wanted to better understand how people, process and technology were perceived by sales and marketing pros, so we conducted a survey. Some of the responses confirmed things that people in sales and marketing have felt were true but couldn’t quantify. Others were more revealing:

  • Sales is less satisfied with marketing’s performance than marketing is with sales’ performance (although most respondents viewed their counterparts’ performance as adequate)
  • Only about 16 percent of all respondents said their sales and marketing organizations were fully aligned
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents still had all or part of their lead data in systems that were visible only to marketing
  • One in three respondents said that less than a quarter of their sales and marketing processes were automated. Only about 13 percent of the respondents said that three quarters or more of their processes were automated. And 29 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied in their sales and marketing technology solution.
  • One in four respondents said that “less than half” or “no one” on their teams had adopted their technology solutions.

One fascinating finding was that sales saw lead quantity and lead quality having about the same effect in hindering sales, while marketing put a much greater emphasis on lead quantity as a key problem. The evidence is clear: lead quality makes a huge difference to sales success; excessive lead quantity can actually damage sales’ ability to make their numbers. Yet somehow, many in marketing have not gotten the message yet.

How about this nugget: in our sample, one in five respondents say their teams lack the right talent to analyze the data they collect. In the big data era, that represents a gaping hole in many companies’ capabilities.

We plan to conduct the survey at regular intervals to understand how sales and marketing pros are adapting, how attitudes are changing, and how the divisions between sales and marketing arenarrowing – or , heaven forbid, growing! There’s a lot of interesting data in this 19-question study. Check it out here!

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