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“Buyer-first sales” is a commonly used buzzword in sales these days — yet, while 65% of sellers claim to always put the buyer first, only 23% of buyers feel that way. Creating effective buyer-first sales experiences begin with sales and marketing alignment. When sellers and marketers partner together, they are able to create content that aligns with every step of the buyer’s journey and targets prospects’ pain points at every turn of negotiations. Through alignment, sales and marketing teams are better able to attract new leads and nurture them throughout their journey toward making a purchase decision. 

While sales and marketing alignment is the quickest way to generate leads and increase conversions, many organizations struggle to keep their sales and marketing teams aligned. Likewise, sales and marketing misalignment is the number one reason for revenue loss. In this blog, we’re serving up the 4 keys to aligning sales and marketing to drive revenue and better business outcomes.

1. Enhance Communication Between Sales and Marketing

Without consistent communication, sales and marketing are unable to align on priorities like lead generation and qualification. To ensure consistent communication occurs between both departments, sales and marketing should have regularly scheduled weekly meetings to discuss their current projects, struggles, and ideas. These meetings minimize roadblocks and allow sales and marketing to work in lockstep through each stage of the buyer’s journey.

For example, having a recurring meeting is a strategic way to align on issues such as agreeing on the definition of a qualified sales-ready lead or to stay up to date on deal flow. During these meetings, both departments can come together to determine how many leads sales needs in a given time frame to reach their quota and when a lead is actually ready to speak to sales.

Along with consistent meetings, sales and marketing need a clear channel of communication to use in between meetings. Leveraging Slack or Microsoft Teams allows sales and marketing to quickly send one-off messages and ask questions throughout the work day to stay in the know. This is especially important if the company has a remote or hybrid workforce. When team members don’t see each other face-to-face, virtual communication is an absolute necessity to maintain alignment. These quick inquiries and clarifications provide the foundation for maintaining alignment on a continuous basis.

2. Develop a Standardardized Buyer Journey

Once sales and marketing are able to communicate easily and effectively, they need to develop a standardized buyer’s journey. Every sales and marketing professional is aware of the high-level, simple buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, decision). But sales and marketing should come together to define a more in-depth buyer’s journey unique to their company’s offerings and sales pipeline stages, with measurable stage entrance and exit criteria. Each organization’s buyer’s journey is different but, typically, a more in-depth journey follows this path: 

  1. Lead generation
  2. First contact
  3. Discovery call 
  4. Sales meetings
  5. Contract offered
  6. Negotiations
  7. Follow-up

By defining the buyer’s journey together, sales and marketing create a consistent experience for the buyer. This way, the brand and product messaging are consistent throughout the complete buyer’s journey, providing buyers with a seamless storyline leading up to the point of purchase. For instance, a buyer who is pulled in by marketing’s content showcasing the product’s ability to save time is receiving the same type of messaging once they begin speaking to sales. From lead generation to the signed deal, the buyer’s pain points are consistently addressed.

3. Work Together to Create Effective Buyer Personas

Sales and marketing should also collaborate to establish buyer personas. While marketing traditionally creates these personas in a vacuum, sales can offer valuable insights into each persona. Since sales reps are the ones talking to and interacting with each persona directly, they have hands-on experience and knowledge as to what resonates with buyers and what doesn’t. When 71% of companies that exceed lead generation and revenue goals leverage well-defined buyer personas, getting sales involved in defining personas makes it that much easier to achieve (and exceed) company goals. 

Discussing and defining the company’s various buyer personas aligns both teams on what types of prospects they are looking for, what pain points these prospects have, and how to appeal to those pain points. This can be handled in meetings between sales and marketing, along with a continuously growing and changing document where buyer personas are defined. When both teams have access to this and can edit as needed, the buyer personas are able to shift just as frequently as the buyers do. 

For example, the sales and marketing team may agree that their product appeals to COOs of small, upcoming businesses looking to streamline a repetitive task. The two teams create a buyer persona surrounding this type of COO. As sales reps continue interacting with this persona, they can add anything they learn about this persona to the buyer persona doc — does this persona respond well to content emphasizing the time-saving abilities of the product? Are they more interested in learning about the ROI? This information helps marketers create better content for the sales team to utilize when appealing to this persona.

Team members reviewing data

4. Monitor and Track the Right KPIs 

Once sales and marketing are aligned, monitoring and tracking KPIs helps ensure that the two teams remain aligned and are able to continuously accomplish their goals. These KPIs can also indicate just how big of an impact proper alignment has had on productivity and revenue. While sales and marketing have slightly different KPIs, each shows just how effectively the team is performing: 

Sales KPIs

  • New accounts: This KPI simply tracks the number of new accounts that the sales team acquires over a certain period of time. This can be tracked both for the entire team and at the individual level. The rate at which this number grows indicates the health of the sales pipeline, and shows how quickly the company is growing. 
  • Number of deals closed: The number of deals closed tracks the percentage of total deals that the sales team converts. This ratio indicates how efficiently the sales team is closing deals. This number also informs the sales team of how many leads should be contacted in order to win one new client.  
  • Customer renewals: The customer renewal rate describes how many customers sign an additional contract once the first has reached its conclusion. This KPI indicates not only customer satisfaction, but the sales team’s ability to win customers who are a good fit for the business. Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits by 25-95%. Since existing customers generate more revenue than new customers, tracking this KPI helps ensure that the sales team continues pulling in best-fit buyers. 
  • Upsells: Upselling occurs when the sales rep is able to sell the buyer an additional product or a higher level of a product, such as a more expensive service package. The upsell rate indicates how often reps are selling additional products or services. Often, reps are able to upsell more efficiently when marketing is creating optimal customer-driven content — so the upsell rate is a great indicator of sales and marketing alignment. 

Marketing KPIs:

  • Sales pipeline velocity: Sales pipeline velocity refers to the speed at which leads move through the sales pipeline and it’s a great indicator of sales and marketing alignment. The velocity shows how well marketing’s content is assisting sales in moving prospects through the sales funnel. 
  • Lead quality: Lead quality refers to either the lead’s likelihood of closing, or their potential revenue. This KPI can be tracked through marketing’s lead scoring model, through which the marketing team qualifies and vets leads for the sales team. Through a lead scoring model, which captures and assesses data based on interest, industry, and revenue potential, the marketing team can see how many leads are generated, and the quality of each. 

Lead quantity: Lead quantity simply refers to the number of leads marketing generates over a certain period of time. Marketing software instantly tracks the number of additional leads gathered, and marketers can view how much the number has grown over a certain period of time, such as a week, a month, or a year. The number of leads generated indicates how well marketing is able to generate interest in the product.

Final Thoughts

In order for your business to grow at an accelerated rate, sales and marketing alignment is crucial. When both teams are aligned, sales content is more impactful, buyers’ pain points are better addressed, and providing buyers with excellent experiences is much easier. Now more than ever, aligning your sales and marketing teams is vital to driving revenue at a faster clip. SFE Partners can help.

Discover ways to grow your pipeline and better align sales and marketing by downloading our eBook, C-Level Strategies for Developing Sales Pipeline.