Overcoming the 5 Biggest Alignment Challenges Facing Marketing & Sales Teams

Overcoming the 5 Biggest Alignment Challenges Facing Marketing & Sales Teams

We discuss the reasons behind marketing and sales alignment issues, and how to resolve them.

We have seen a shift in B2B business strategy - from lead generation to demand generation, siloed operations to revenue operations, and from selling to a committee to selling to individuals through account-based marketing (ABM).

Marketing and sales alignment is the foundation of a successful ABM strategy, however sometimes both teams struggle to get on the same page. We break down the top 5 challenges and discuss potential solutions for alignment.

1. The Handoff from Marketing to Sales

The textbook approach is for marketing to simply deliver a lead to sales once that lead is qualified... What could go wrong?

Well, the qualifying criteria may not be clearly defined by both teams and the expectation for sales to reach out immediately may  be unclear. Along with this, the mechanism may not be clearly defined - do certain reps own certain lead types? Are they notified automatically? How are they notified?

The marketing-to-sales handoff process must be clearly defined, mapped out and agreed upon by both teams to be successful. Once this is implemented into a system that works for both teams

Pro tip: Pull reports to see at what lifecycle stage sales became involved in winning opportunities to understand what has worked for you business to date.

2. Too many Systems

Tech has exploded with hundreds of tools for sales and marketing to use to help them perform their roles. This often results in a never-ending list of tools for marketing operations.

Data accuracy is of the utmost importance for sales and marketing activities - especially for those activities that require handoff. And the more tools you have, the bigger the chances of unreliable data.

Too many systems can lead to:

- Extensive context switching and data loss
- Syncing issues
- No single source of truth for quick informed decisions
- Misaligned handoff and scoring criteria

Address this issues by moving all marketing and sales data to a single tool with Marketing and Sales features to provide a seamless experience for your customers. If this is not possible, run an audit of where data is not being collected, synced and updated between systems so you can work on filling the gaps.

Following this, run a capabilities assessment of your current systems to ensure that they can achieve all of your goals - Can yous systems trigger trigger actions in one another for a streamlined marketing and sales process? If not, look for tools such as Zapier to build these triggers so both teams can always be on the same page.

3. Incomplete, Inaccurate and Inconsistent Data

Without a refined process, operational leadership and smart tech adoption your data suffers. When you can't trust your data you are flying blind when it comes to making impactful decisions.

You won't be able to properly forecast your sales team's pipeline, personalise campaigns, handoff leads accurately or even segment efficiently. Data drives your revenue engine. Marketing, sales and customer success leaders rely heavily on effective data to help them make decisions to enhance revenue.

If you're facing this issue your data collection process might be in the way. Face this head on by finding out from your team what obstacles are preventing them from adding data - Are the most commonly populated properties in view when looking at a record? Is there a custom property that needs to be added in for a specific initiative? Note these down.

Next, look at automation to tighten up your processes and keep your data clean and enriched in the process - Can you use automation to move records from stage to stage to ensure the data around those activities are accurate and measurable? Can you update properties using workflows to remove the manual entry?

Make sure that your tech stack is condensed, and your systems are sharing data frequently and automatically. This will ensure that everyone and every automation has the right data at the right time.

4. Disjointed Goals and the MQL Challenge

The usual marketing play: Gate content to capture an MQL and then handoff to sales/business development rep, who then convert this MQL to an SQL lifecycle stage. From here, an account executive closes the deal, won or lost.

This approach has been used thousands of times by thousands of marketers but if focusing on alignment, this play could provide many challenges. If marketing has a goal to drive MQLs then their focus will be on how to get as many gated downloads as possible. The issue - the audience reading your content may not necessarily be the audience that wants to buy your product now.

If the goal for sales is to convert as many MQLs to opportunities as possible, this creates friction. The marketing team meeting their goals is out of alignment with sales reaching their goals. Both teams should be focusing instead on revenue and demand to provide a seamless customer experience.

In order to solve this, marketing needs to have a conversation with sales about how to setup processes, regular stand ups and other ways of listening and learning from each other.

Sales can teach marketing a lot - what happens on calls with MQLs? What objections does sales consistently run into? Which content assets are mentioned in calls? The same can be said for sales learning from marketing - what content is being served? How has targeting been altered, and how is sales seeing that play out in calls? What content is consumed most in deals that result in closed won deals?

Once sales and marketing have more of an understanding, teams can begin to have conversations about the choices that impact pipeline:

-Should we shift focus from capturing MQLs to ungated content that drives demand?
- Should we work on the definition of an MQL?
- How can we get prospects to sales-qualified opportunities before getting sales involved?

This is far more productive than questioning a high volume of poor fit leads for the month.

5. Running ABM Campaigns

You can't run a successful ABM campaign with misaligned teams. All of the challenges listed above prevent successful ABM campaigns - especially at scale.

ABM requires alignment on not only MQL and SQL definitions, but also the definition of an entire buying committee. This means more handoffs, system, data and goal alignment.

If you are a HubSpot user you have many tools at your disposal for ABM campaigns

●      Target Account property
●      ICP Tier property
●      Account Overview
●      Suggested Target Account AI tool
●      Prospects tool to see accounts who have visited your website
●      ABM and Target Account dashboards
●      Company scoring
●      Buying role properties
●      Workflow automations
●      Chat bot or live chat
●      Automated lead rotation
●      Ads conversion events

Here are some steps you can take to align your team for ABM:

  1. Verify that you have been collecting job titles and buying roles. If you have not, go back through your last quarter of closed deals and manually enter this information or update via workflows. For example, you can make sure to indicate that a certain job title is always a decision maker.
  2. Create a dashboard to understand the buying roles that have been involved in your recent deals and who usually shows up to the buying table first.
  3. Have a meeting between sales and marketing to review this information and agree upon the buying committee and who to prioritise.
  4. Follow the other solutions outlined above to ensure that your teams are aligned on goals, lifecycle stage definitions, handoff protocol, and that your data is clean and your systems are talking.
  5. Finally, use your Target Account and ABM tools to set up a campaign to support the alignment built between sales and marketing.

Follow the solutions above and your sales and marketing team will be able to play well together. Alignment is achievable with a bit of learning, listening, and consistent action. Get in touch now to discuss your alignment challenges and to work on an effective and powerful ABM campaign.

Latest Articles

View All
HubSpot's seamless integration with Apollo: How to simplify data cleansing and automation

HubSpot's seamless integration with Apollo: How to simplify data cleansing and automation

Learn how HubSpot's integration with Apollo will improve your Go-To-Market strategy and save your team at least an hour of work per day.

April 26, 2024
My 3 Best HubSpot Automations for Driving Scalable Business Growth

My 3 Best HubSpot Automations for Driving Scalable Business Growth

Learn how HubSpot Automations provide a scalable solution that adapts to business's ever-changing needs.

November 27, 2023
Fuelling Scalable Growth with the Power of Marketing Automation

Fuelling Scalable Growth with the Power of Marketing Automation

Understand why Marketing Automation empowers growth and scalability for your B2B SaaS business.

November 2, 2023