Getting Real About the Sales-Marketing Gap

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Getting Real About the Sales-Marketing Gap

I’ve spent the majority of my life as part of a team. I started playing basketball and volleyball when I was in the 6th grade and continued until college. I know that the ability for a group to come together and execute individual roles while operating effectively as a whole determines the quality of performance and success of the team.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth

In basketball, this meant that the point guard analyzed how the defense was set up, which players the guard had on the floor and what plays their team would need to run in order to get the biggest return on their trip down the floor. The name of the play gets called, indicating an orchestration of movements each individual on the team makes, with the result being a basket scored. The team on the bench applauds, the players on the court high-five, and the person who scored the basket signals “thank you” to the other player who provided the assist. Each movement worked together. Each effort was pointed at the same end result. Each individual on the floor was aligned in their execution.

Sales-Marketing Alignment is Harder than it Sounds, But it’s Not Impossible

Not every team I have been on has been able to execute as seamlessly. Because of that, our team and our record suffered. What that meant was not qualifying for finals and missing out on the last stretch of the season. Regardless of the individual talents our team possessed, as a whole, our potential was never realized.

Sitting between marketing and sales teams as the Sales/Business Development Manager at Cloudability, I’m right in the midst of sales and marketing alignment efforts. My team is usually the first to feel the pains associated with misaligned sales and marketing. But our world in sales and business development is a microcosm of the larger organization. While we feel the pain of misalignment between teams through losses in productivity, increased manual efforts and reduction in activity, the business feels the pain in the amount of losses – lost revenue, losses to competitors, losses in market share, etc.

Misalignment between sales and marketing technologies and processes costs B2B companies 10% of revenue or more per year. Source: Hubspot


That being said, there are some companies out there who are getting this whole sales and marketing alignment right. They have customer retention and sales win rate metrics to prove that it’s worth investing the time, work and effort in aligning sales and marketing teams. And, perhaps most importantly, when sales and marketing are aligned, it creates more revenue for the organization as a whole. Check out these other facts about lost revenue due to the sales-marketing gap from Hubspot:

  • Companies with good marketing practices in place generated 208% more revenue from marketing efforts.
  • When sales and marketing teams work together, companies see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates.

Now that we’ve laid out the monetary value behind sales and marketing alignment, how is it that sales and marketing operating in alignment poses such a challenge for companies? There could be a multitude of answers to this question, but I’d like the focus of today’s conversation to be the only constant at most companies: change. This is all too often the No. 1 culprit that wedges a gap between the two teams.

The digital age has brought about flips the customer-vendor relationship. Previously, sales and marketing held the keys to the kingdom: information, insights, content, resources, etc. With an always-on environment that the digital age has fostered, customers and prospects are now the ones in the position of power. If you don’t have the information they’re looking for, they’ll find it elsewhere.

Source: Marketo

As you can see from the illustration above, there is way more crossover between sales and marketing than in the past. Because of this, marketing’s scope no longer starts and stops with the brand, and the role of a salesperson now extends to brand ambassador both online and in person (or over the phone) while closing deals. While this change does present new challenges, it also opens the door to new possibilities for sales and marketing to redesign and refine how the two functions work together. In fact, it may be way more effective than maintaining separate efforts and activities in a siloed fashion.

How to Bridge the Sales-Marketing Gap

We can start with something that both sales and marketing teams can use to drive leads and close deals: content. Content creation must be geared toward answering each question in the most relevant way in order for a prospect to convert from one stage in the buyer’s journey to the next. For some organizations who have not adapted to marketplace demands, this could result in their sales teams being unequipped to answer prospects’ questions and provide relevant content and insights at the appropriate time.

You can’t build an adaptable organization without adaptable people–and individuals change only when they have to, or when they want to. – Gary Hamel

If you think about it, people have a lot more information at their disposal than ever before. Companies must not only provide content and information that educates, but they must also be cognizant of their content’s ability to convert the audience your sales team wants into sales-ready leads and accounts. And even then, depending on the complexity of the problem your company is looking to solve, keeping up with the pace of change as new projects or competitors pop up poses another challenge.

If an organization does not realize the journey of an empowered buyer as a key consideration, both sales and marketing teams will have difficulties in understanding how to redefine or transform to meet the needs of their prospects and customers. Taking an approach that focuses on your best-fit customers is a crucial, beneficial step in getting both sales and marketing on board. In the past, marketing would flood the pipe with a ton leads after an event, working backward and hoping that a deal or two would rise to the top. However, that strategy just won’t cut it anymore now that consumers are growing more adept at market research. To thrive in today’s marketplace, rallying around accounts and contacts that are more likely to close is the easiest and more effective way to ensure everyone at the organization is rowing in the same direction.

Be sure to follow Gabrielle Blackwell on LinkedIn to get more insights on how to successfully run a BDR/SDR program to scale. To learn more about how you can use AI to bridge the sales-marketing gap, try out EverString for free with our 7-day trial.

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