Sales and marketing alignment

Sales and marketing are the two sides of the same coin. The two teams require different skill sets but work towards the same objectives—drive sales, gain customers and grow revenue. Although their goals are intertwined, the two departments have traditionally operated in silos.

To tackle the complexity of the modern buying process, sales and marketing need to collaborate seamlessly to create the synergy that propels the business forward.

A company with aligned sales and marketing can expect as much as 67% more closing deals, 58% better customer retention and 208% more revenue, if possible, according to LinkedIn. However, according to Forrester Research, alignments rarely happen, since only about 8% of companies take such a path.

Why is there a need for alignment, anyway?

Sales team pursues leads generated by marketing, while the marketing team depends on the customer insights shared by sales to formulate campaigns.

In the real world, friction between the teams is a real possibility—the two aren’t always in sync. Sometimes it is due to differing goals, perhaps even conflicting ones. Other times it may just be due to a lack of communication. Symptoms of misalignment varies from business to business, but some are clearly present across the board, namely a rise in inefficiencies.

When sales and marketing are out of sync, lead generation volumes start dipping, sales cycles become longer, marketing budget spending balloons as unnecessary spending on dead-end leads increases. The handovers between the two teams become sloppy and inefficient as well.

60-70% of B2B content created by marketing remains unused by the sales team due to it being irrelevant to the buyers, according to a Forrester Research. On the other hand, 79% of marketing leads never convert to sales because of lack of nurturing, according to Marketing Sherpa.

Misalignment can cause loses of up to 10% revenue every year to B2B companies as estimated by IDC Research. Globally, the figure adds up to about $1 trillion of losses in a year.

Importance of alignment

In the ever-changing world of modern business, consumer habits have evolved. The selling process has become more complex—closing a single deal involves in average 6.8 people says the Harvard Business Review.

Old techniques of selling no longer work, and siloed marketing and sales departments have been found out to be increasingly ineffective. Cross-functional teams are fast becoming the norm.

Sales and marketing alignment has become a necessity and a tested way to increase the efficiency of marketing efforts and win more deals. Put simply, aligned teams drive growth.

Sirius Decisions has found that companies with aligned teams grow 24% faster and see a 27% rise in profits over a year’s period.

As goals and strategies are aligned between the two teams, the buying process is also streamlined. Both the teams will be able to offer focused communication that is personalised and relevant to the buyers.

Such shared strategies help retain 36% more customers, achieve 38% higher win rates and in turns generate 32% higher revenue, according to an Aberdeen Group report. The report also found that alignment improves brand awareness and generates higher average deal sizes.

How to achieve alignment?

Sales and marketing function best when they work towards common goals. When the teams agree on coordinated strategies to achieve such mutually shared goals and take joint responsibility, success is driven through intention rather than luck.

With open communication and the use of right processes and technologies, teams can work together more effectively to generate leads, prioritise the right ones at the right time and make sales consistently.

Forbes reports that 93% of B2B companies partially or completely conduct their businesses online. In such a digital world, the tools and technology companies use have a big impact in their success.

Newer digital tools allow unprecedented levels of collaboration within organisations and have transformed how sales and marketing can work together.

Aligning Sales and Marketing in Dynamics 365

Simplifying collaboration is the initial step in bringing sales and marketing activities together. Instead of providing different tools to different departments and creating a complex web of systems, digital solutions such as Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 align processes across the business in a single unified platform.

When both sales and marketing can access the same information, all can take coordinated decisions transparently.

Dynamics 365’s Marketing and Sales applications might appear separate, but both access centralised data in Microsoft Dataverse and can share information and business processes seamlessly.

When both teams work without silos, tracking activities, comparing results and making changes becomes simple and effective.

Shared visibility of the customer journey: Dynamics 365 provides all its users with a 360-degree view of customers through a unified timeline. It allows teams to track interactions with contacts, leads and customers throughout their customer journey across various channels.

This enables marketing to craft the appropriate content for the various instances so that sales can make contact at the right time. Similarly, both teams can view the progress of leads and can step in to provide necessary assistance, if required.

Such proactive and personalised community then creates deeper customer relationships for longer term revenue.

Seamless collaboration: A proper alignment is built on a foundation of open communication. Dynamics 365’s embedded Teams chat allows different teams to easily talk to one another and collaborate more effectively.

Users can also share data during conversations for more thorough discussions on progress and effectiveness of strategies.

Pre-defined processes: Dynamics 365 enables AI-powered automated workflows that help standardise processes and assign tasks effortlessly. Once sales and marketing teams jointly define key terms, such as leads, MQL and SQL, you can create models and automate processes.

For instance, after creating an agreed upon lead scoring model, Dynamics 365 can automatically identify and qualify right leads to assign to the sales team or trigger an email campaign through marketing. Individually configurable dashboards and insights allows activities and performances to be tracked transparently.

Aligning Sales and Marketing in Salesforce

Unified processes: Since sales and marketing teams both work on the same system in Salesforce, they have access to the same information. Both teams are able to track opportunities throughout the customer journey to their possible conclusion: contacted, unqualified or converted.

Salesforce offers a holistic view of the sales process so that sales reps can target leads strategically and marketing can adapt their efforts based on what works and what doesn’t.

Pipeline optimisation: Better information supports better decision-making that improves performance across the entire pipeline. Salesforce takes data from your business’ current activities and interprets them with artificial intelligence to provide optimal action plans.

Such pipeline optimisation frees up time and resources for both sales and marketing teams so that they direct their energy towards more critical tasks such as strategizing and decision-making.

Integrated lead nurturing: With more empowered and demanding customers, businesses more than ever need to be buyer centric. Salesforce assists businesses nurture leads towards conversion through automation and integration. Cooler leads can be automatically slotted in engagement programmes or marketing campaigns so that they can be primed behind the scenes until they become MQLs.

Then, with the help of automatic rules, they can be directly assigned to sales reps for conversion. Such nurturing mechanisms allows sales reps to focus on hotter leads for better success rates.


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