Align Marketing and Sales in Your B2B SaaS Company With These 5 Steps

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Every marketer knows that sales and marketing alignment is an extremely important factor in the success of both teams.

But there’s a big difference between knowing that something’s important, and doing something about it.

Here’s how this misalignment scuttles your growth. According to the Outfunnel Revenue Marketing Report 2021

A whopping 70%! But, the same report also goes on to say that:

So, even though nearly half of sales and marketing pros know they have a problem, they don’t seem to be doing anything about it. All the while, we have examples of companies doing extremely well, because their sales and marketing teams are aligned. 

In this article, we’ll go over five things you can do to better align your sales and marketing teams. 

1. Tie Goals and KPIs to Revenue

Many marketing teams are tying revenue goals to their KPIs and day-to-day metrics, but there are still teams totally disconnected from revenue targets. 

Pay attention here  – 

Without revenue goals, marketing is like shooting blind. There’s a chance you’ll hit it once in a while by sheer dumb luck, but the rest of the time, you’ll be wasting your time and effort.

Source: Marketoonist. Brand metrics are important, but without revenue goals, alignment is impossible.

Ultimately, we want to drive business results. It’s good to have marketing goals like brand building or thought leadership. But you have to measure your activities to make sure they’re contributing to revenue.  

Revenue-focused marketing means you’ll make sure your leads are of good quality. That’ll help sales. Shared accountability will make it easier for everyone to succeed. 

Bonus: By building a revenue marketing team, marketing will have a clear revenue target and even predictable revenue targets.

Although proxy metrics (like SQLs) can be used as a tactical goal for certain initiatives, at the end of the day they should all drive revenue and be measured accordingly.

2. Funnel Sync Meetings

I want to ask you a couple of questions before we move on to point #2:

  • How do you make sure that your sales and marketing teams are aiming at the same goals?
  • Do sales often complain about the quality of marketing leads they get?
  • How often do they meet to align on goals? 

If you don’t like the answers to these questions, you definitely need to have regular funnel sync meetings in your company.

We’ve covered funnel sync meetings in far greater detail in this article. We take an in-depth look at how to conduct a funnel sync meeting and what you can expect at the end of it. 

But today, we’ll look at 

  1. Why is it important to have a clearly defined funnel?
  2. Why are funnel sync meetings so important? 

The funnel is the most common way to model business outcomes. Different funnels fit different business models and company types. Let’s look at a basic B2B funnel:

You can think of every stage as a proxy for revenue generation. Some stages are owned “owned” by different teams (even if there is a sense of shared ownership). So if there’s a misalignment, there’ll be friction, finger-pointing, and blame games.

Alternatively, if all teams agree on what they’ll deliver at the end of each stage, there will be clarity. No finger-pointing. No blame games.

That’s exactly what the funnel sync meeting accomplishes. It first aligns your teams around a common definition for each funnel stage. 

After that, you get a set of shared, organization-wide goals. This means that each team knows its goals and what is expected at each funnel stage.

Hold regular funnel syncs to fix misalignment in your team.

3. Use SQLs As Your Funnel Proxy, Rather Than MQLs

We recently had a very interesting interview with Asaph Schulman, the CMO of Firebolt

This is what he told us when we asked him about the metrics they focus on at Firebolt:

Think about it. You definitely want to have shared accountability for the bottom line with the rest of the organization. For day-to-day initiatives, your tactical KPI should be SQL, not MQL.

So the starting point of the sales team’s task overlaps with yours and that means better alignment and a better handshake between the two.

In point # 1, we basically said – Align your KPIs to revenue.

Here we’re saying – Align your tactical metrics / proxies to SQLs.

And if your marketing team is latching on to SQLs and revenues, it leads us to our next point.

4. Move BDRs / SDRs to the Marketing Department

Looking back at our interview with Asaph Schulman, he had a very interesting point to make about BDRs or SDRs – 

If you measure Marketing on SQLs and Revenue, BDRs are just another acquisition channel. So, having them report to the marketing team actually makes logical sense. However, you need to consider your sales and marketing teams’ setup. 

Let’s look at a few pros and cons of having your SDRs/BDRs under marketing:

Pros:

  • All acquisition efforts fall under marketing when BDRs are under Marketing. This will make your funnel a lot more clear. 
  • With all of your acquisition channels under Marketing, you can shift budgets and focus on the most effective channels. 
  • Sales’ role will become more focused, and generating leads will no longer be a requirement for sales.
  • Even for outbound lead generation, BDR activity resembles marketing campaigns more than sales campaigns. If you treat SDR outbound campaigns as marketing channels, you can measure the same metrics and use the same analysis tools. 

Cons:

  • The career path for the SDRs may be challenging, since they are Sales professionals and want to move into Sales, but are currently managed by Marketing.
  • BDRs/SDRs require different skills than marketing. Even though marketing can certainly contribute to B/SDR performance, marketers have little experience with Outbound, prospecting, and qualification, which are all an art form in and of itself. This may affect your Outbound efforts. 

This step definitely needs some thought. But for an organization aiming for revenue marketing, this is an excellent move to consider.

5. Ramp Up Your Sales Enablement Game

Marketers tend to focus too much on “their” funnel stages – especially the top – and ignore the steps traditionally owned by sales. They often focus on the number of MQLs generated and then wonder why sales don’t deliver.

Source: Marketoonist

Okay, gentle reader, here’s a news flash – if the sales team doesn’t make the numbers, nobody wins. It’s that simple.  

The Marketing department should also look at the different stages in the sales cycle and figure out how to contribute to each one. In other words – do more sales enablement.

Here are some ideas to get your juices flowing:

  • Put a marketer on sales demos / calls and come up with content / material that helps sales.
  • Assign a salesperson and a marketing person a broad direction – improve alignment. You’ll be surprised at the ideas that come up.
  • Are your sales and marketing messages aligned? Do they make the same commitments to their respective prospects?
  • Ask Sales how they think marketing can help with nurturing existing prospects and customers 

Bonus Action Step:

These strategies will certainly lead to a more aligned organization, but each requires planning and a bit of time to implement. But, here’s one thing you can do today.

Run two brainstorming meetings a week – 

  1. Marketing shares the current plan with Sales and asks for their feedback.
  2. Sales shares its plans with Marketing and asks for feedback.

The teams can talk in a pressure-free setting – and get ideas from the other team.

A team with misaligned sales and marketing teams is like a car with different-sized wheels. It’ll wobble along, but it won’t reach its full potential. And you never know if that wobbling journey will end with a nasty crash. 

Getting started with these steps will lead to a well-aligned company and a smooth path to growth and revenue.  


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