When you spend a great deal of your time writing about sales and marketing alignment and its many benefits – which span everything from company revenues to quality of work life – you’d like to think you’re having an impact. After all, it’s a pretty easy-to-grasp concept: the closer that sales and marketing work together, the fewer obstacles to closed deals are created by problems with process. And the more success sales has in closing deals, the happier everyone is.
But just because a concept is easy to understand and agree with doesn’t mean people do it. For example, we all would agree it’s a good idea to call your mom once a week, but how many of us end up missing a few phone conversations?
Getting sales and marketing together is hard. It means the two sides have to set their own departmental agendas aside for a moment and focus on the goals of the whole organization. It requires time, the one resource of which no one in sales and marketing possesses a surplus. And it demands follow through—a one-time reset of the relationship will unravel over time if it’s not cared for and constantly re-examined. If alignment was easy, we wouldn’t be talking about alignment anymore.
But alignment is a little like cleaning out your garage: no matter how much junk you have stuffed in there, you have to start somewhere. Picking that first place to gain alignment is the initial step toward greater alignment. And there are plenty of potential first steps. For instance, only about half of all companies say sales and marketing have a formal definition of what constitutes a qualified lead, according to CSO Insights. That definition provides a foundation for other activities; without it, sales does one thing, marketing does another, and potential deals fall through the cracks.
Other entry points into this problem center around data sharing—if your sales and marketing teams are using disconnected systems, each side is getting only a partial view of leads. For example, if marketing and sales solutions are siloed by department, sales has no context for the leads they receive, and marketing gets no indication of whether the leads they are passing are on target.
And it continues: content creation by marketing without input from sales often fails to connect with the customer needs sales hears in the field. A failure to prioritize lead quality vs. lead quantity can overwhelm sales with leads that fail to close or starve sales of leads to work. Sales may receive direct input from prospects about things they’d like to see from marketing in the sales cycle, but without a defined way to get that feedback into the marketing department that invaluable customer input is lost.
As I wrote earlier, when you dwell on these topics, you hope things get better over time. But our 2016 Sales and Marketing Sentiment Study showed that 25 years of people analyzing, evangelizing, and evaluating the many positive impacts of getting sales and marketing on the same page have not resulted in much improvement. In fact, the numbers from 2015 to 2016 showed the situation getting worse, not better.
Has the phenomenon stabilized, or are the trends continuing? Is the need to improve sales performance forcing long-entrenched behaviors to change, or are sales and marketing still operating as disconnected entities? Is technology providing a solution, or is it forcing businesses to wrestle with new questions?
I could speculate about this at great length, but I’d prefer to take the word of the people who are wrestling with these issues on a daily basis—and, if you’re a sales or marketing professional, that means you. The 2017 Sales and Marketing Sentiment Study survey is now open and available, and if you work in a sales or marketing role we’d love to have your input. This 19-question survey takes a very short time to complete, but your contribution can help illustrate the real state of sales and marketing processes, technology, and relationships. If you take it, you also get the report data and our analysis a week early. The data could be a great tool to illustrate how far your organization has come in becoming aligned compared to your peers—or it could help you make the argument that better alignment is needed for the success of your organization.
In any event, your participation in the study will be invaluable in understanding the real state of alignment and the attitudes around it.