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Why sales and marketing alignment still isn’t working

3rd Feb 2015
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In recent times, sales and marketing have been brought closer together to increase efficiency and customer engagement. It’s time to find out if they’re aligned enough?

Sales and marketing alignment is critical in this cross-channel era but there are signs that more still needs to be done to bring the two departments into sync.

Marketing's KPIs are still vague

Because they have predefined targets to meet, sales must occasionally glance across at the marketing department in envy and wonder how their success is being measured (if at all). What are their KPIs? How about their targets? Are they hitting any?

The answer, sadly, is that some marketers are still operating on a ‘nebulous’ basis instead of introducing software systems that can track ROI on each and every digital campaign. With the C-Suite scrutinising bottom lines ever more closely, the days of the ‘marketing is an art, not a science’ attitude are numbered – so marketing departments need to put systems in place now.

80% of CEOs say they don’t trust marketing’s work and that marketers are too disconnected from the financial realities of the company. While less than one in three B2B companies properly measure ROI for marketing activity.

Sales people must adopt a ‘consultative’ approach

It’s a tough sell for ‘old-school’ salespeople – getting to know your customers over time and understanding their pains before making that sales call can seem alien to those used to relying on ‘gut instinct’.

In this age of the customer journey, sales must work together with marketing to ensure they strike at the right moment with each and every prospect. It’s essential to create a joined-up ‘consultative’ approach via training and tools.

The more information sales are given by marketing, the better

Prospects are now more open to parting with their personal information in exchange for, say, a value-added eguide. Their subsequent journey through the funnel means that marketing knows when the prospect will be most receptive to a sales call. It is imperative then that such data is made available to sales teams to act on so they can make targeted pitches to fully engaged prospects.

Dealmakers: big and small

Many sales teams have a rep who’s great at closing large budget deals and another who’s great at closing smaller deals – and with the help of marketing’s customer insights, the right leads can be distributed to the right sales person each time.

Sales and marketing – at arm’s length?

Departmental silos need to be brought down by forward-thinking CMOs and sales directors who want to bring their departments together. The most effective and immediate method is to hold regular meetings between the two departments, where each can share their knowledge and findings with the other. Marketing helping sales to identify key opportunities while sales can aid in identifying and refining key customer personas and business pains.

Service first

To create a healthy working relationship, service level agreements should be agreed up front and stuck to by both departments – marketing providing a guaranteed number of quality leads with sales agreeing to follow through on the leads quickly and efficiently. Not having agreed quotas in place is a surefire way to create resentment between the two departments.

Marketers should ‘ride shotgun’ with sales

Marketing should be encouraged to go along to pitches with sales teams where practical. The aim? To see and test messaging ‘in the flesh’; how is the sales team delivering it? Could the messaging be refined? Are prospects reacting differently than predicted?

By working together, the messaging can be honed and refined so it is perfectly aligned to both the marketing’s intended campaign message and the sales department’s style of real-world delivery.



  • Marketing needs to set itself KPIs and be in a position to measure ROI on all digital campaigns.
  • Sales must embrace a consultative approach to its work; the days of the hard sell are over.
  • Marketing data needs to be communicated effectively to the sales team so they can act on it.
  • The divide that traditionally keeps marketing and sales apart can be narrowed by encouraging cooperation and teamwork between the two departments.
  • Both marketing and sales must sign up and stick to service level agreements to ensure a level playing field.

Chloe Basterfield is marketing manager of Oracle Marketing Cloud.

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