Image showing arrows converging towards the path to revenue
Image showing arrows converging towards the path to revenue

It’s an open secret that sales and marketing teams don’t always get along. They often chase different metrics and goals that keep them working toward different outcomes. Even though their overarching goals are to make the company successful, a lack of alignment between these two teams can negatively impact a company’s success. How can sales and marketing work together when their actions are working toward different end goals?

Revenue alignment gets sales and marketing teams working together for the same goal: increased revenue and efficient growth. Rather than spinning their wheels separately, each team is working in lockstep to achieve company goals together. Revenue alignment doesn’t just reduce friction for both teams—it can also result in higher return on investment (ROI) for sales and marketing efforts.

Find out why revenue alignment should be a top priority for business-to-business (B2B) companies this year, plus practical tips I’ve learned as a vice president (VP) of marketing for getting aligned and staying aligned to reach ambitious revenue goals.

Clare Corriveau, Sr. Director of Demand Gen, Cobalt joined Isaac Ware, our Director of Demand Gen on stage at the recently concluded 2023’s B2B Marketing Exchange to share how Cobalt uses UserGems to align Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success and drive efficient growth.

What does revenue alignment mean?

Before getting into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about what I mean when I use the term “revenue alignment.” At its heart, it’s simple: Revenue alignment means realizing that we are all working toward the same goal to increase revenue.

When sales and marketing aren’t aligned, the relationship between the two teams looks like this:

• Butting heads because of conflicting priorities.

• Different incentives for performance.

• Disunified efforts working toward separate goals.

The marketing team is expected to bring in leads and pipeline, while the sales team is expected to close deals. When the leads don’t match the expectations of the sales team, and revenue closed isn’t proportional to leads being brought in, the two teams can feel at odds with each other.

When sales and marketing are aligned, the relationship looks like this:

• Higher conversation rates and more wins.

• It becoming easier for sales to close deals.

• Marketing generating more qualified leads.

Rather than each team working within their own silos to meet separate goals, the teams are working together and performing at a higher level. And in an uncertain economic environment that makes the jobs of sales and marketing more difficult, getting aligned has never been more important for the success of companies.

But how can these two teams get along?

Use these three practical tips for achieving revenue alignment

What does it take to achieve revenue alignment? It’s not always easy. More than anything, it takes an organizational commitment to getting aligned and staying aligned between sales and marketing. As a VP of marketing at a B2B software as a service (SaaS) startup, I know the importance of working closely with sales to create a better environment for winning new business, and I’ve learned some important lessons in my tenure.

Here are three best practices I’ve learned for getting sales and marketing aligned on day one and staying aligned:

1. Go after your best buyers together

This might sound obvious in theory, but in practice, it’s extremely difficult. How often do members of the sales team truly know what members of the marketing team are working on (and vice versa)?

You might recognize this scenario. Marketing identifies its ideal customer profile (ICP) and builds a target account list based on that ICP. The team goes on to advertise to those accounts and generate leads within the ICP. But the next quarter, the marketing team realizes that only half of their target accounts are being worked on by sales.

This is a classic case of revenue misalignment.

To avoid this misalignment, sales and marketing need to define the ICP together—and more importantly, stick to it. Teams need to make sure that at no point either party decides to veer off the common path to reach revenue goals. No “We just randomly closed company X” or “I saw a funny billboard, so I want to sell into this new vertical” is allowed!

2. Surround prospects all the time, in all channels, and throughout the buying process

Prospects can be reached by so many different touch points, whether via sales (direct emails, LinkedIn messages, calling) or marketing (social media, Google search ads, promoted posts). With every touch point, your teams are helping prospects develop a full picture of your solution or product. When marketing works effectively with outbound outreach, companies succeed.

Are your sales and marketing teams sharing the same story and using the same messaging across every touch point? Staying consistent and persistent by surrounding prospects on all channels throughout the buying process makes sure you are seen and known nearly everywhere your prospects are.

This is something that sales and marketing can, and should, work closely together to orchestrate. By working together, both teams can align to reach the same target accounts at the right stage, with the right nurture approach.

3. Align on success metrics for each team

Overall, sales leaders don’t care about attribution—they only care about the revenue generated. On the other hand, marketing leaders do care about attribution because it validates their work. But the buying process is never truly linear, which means that there can never be truly perfect attribution. This is just a snapshot of misalignment that causes friction between sales and marketing teams.

What’s the best practice here? In short, the sooner marketing and sales teams define and agree on which metrics matter most, the easier it will be to stay aligned down the road.

What revenue alignment asks teams to do is to stop focusing on different success metrics that lead to attribution wars and focus on the metrics that matter more for the success of both teams together.

Join forces for stronger outcomes.

Sales never gets easier, and marketing never gets easier. Both teams fight an uphill battle (no matter the market conditions) to get noticed and drive revenue each year. The way teams will find success now and in the future is by aligning efforts and metrics to achieve a better joint outcome, together.

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