You’re not imagining it. There is a big divide between sales and marketing.

The 2016 B2B Sales & Marketing Collaboration Study, where 123 survey respondents gave us a glimpse into their work experiences, found some shocking proof:

  • 66.9% of respondents report that sales teams are NOT rewarded for supporting marketing objectives, although most report marketing objectives align to the greater business goals.
  • 57% of organizations report that fewer than 85% of leads delivered by marketing are followed up by sales (some saying that that figure is as low as 25% or less). When you consider the cost to acquire leads, this lack of follow-up not only hurts conversion rates, it also hurts in terms of cold, hard cash. For example, if your marketing team generates 5,000 leads, and sales only follows up on 85%, that leaves 750 leads going to waste. At $5, $10 or $20 per lead, that’s a lot of budget misused.
  • The report is clear that a lot of sales tools marketing generates are not being used by sales, but what’s more surprising is how much more sales believe they use than marketing. Over 50% of sales people responded that they use “virtually 100%” of the tools created by marketing. By striking contrast, only 15% of marketers saw it that way.

A Guest Post from Samantha Stone, Founder at The Marketing Advisory Network.

Is this inevitable?

It’s common sense that organizations that rally together around shared goals will drive more efficiency than those where different functions are at odds with one another. Yet, most sales and marketing teams struggle with achieving this ideal and in many ways we’ve come to accept the divide as inevitable.

In fact, we feed the stereotype all the time. How many times have you heard one of these phrases from a marketing colleague?

“Just give them what they want it’s easier.”

“You can interview customers but get sales permission first.”

“I know the asset they need has been published but no one checks the system, just attach it to an email.”

“I can’t run a competitive campaign because sales won’t fill out optional fields in the database.”

“It’s the last month of the quarter, we can’t ask sales to attend training.”

The misalignment is real, and it’s costing us our productivity. However, there is good news. Our study showed that those who exceed revenue expectations have broken down the barriers many of us face. Based on these examples, here are four things CMOs can – and, I’d argue, must – do to close the gap that exists in their organizations.

  1. Take responsibility for pipeline acceleration, not just lead development. Organizations that exceeded revenue goals in the last 12 months are 3x as likely as those that missed revenue goals to have marketing “own” pipeline acceleration (not just lead generation).
  1. Change what you measure. If you want alignment, marketing and sales teams must share key performance indicators. In addition, you should measure the percentage of leads that convert to opportunities. 69% of those organizations that reported exceeding revenue goals do this.
  1. Document SLAs. Creating documented service level agreements (SLAs) between sales and marketing is a key practice for those who exceed revenue goals. When creating SLAs, these organizations not only agree on lead scoring, they also agree on the amount of time that should elapse between lead assignment and follow-up.
  1. Vary communication formats. More frequent meetings between sales and marketing does not equal better communication. What can improve communication is the variety of training techniques and methods for distributing information that you use. We asked respondents how they communicated with and trained people. The options we gave them were: email; virtual and in-person training; and publishing to a sales tool repository. Those that exceeded revenue goals were 3.5x as likely as those that missed goals to use all available methods.

Want to learn more? Read the full study here. No registration required.

Image Source (Creative Commons): uncorrectedproofs.

Samantha-Stone-LI2About Samantha Stone: I’m a fast growth, B2B marketing junkie, mother of four high energy boys and wannabe gourmet chef. Throughout my career I have launched go-to-market initiatives and lead marketing strategies for award-winning, high growth technology companies including Netezza, SAP, Ascential Software, and Powersoft. In 2012 I founded The Marketing Advisory Network to help enterprises unleash the possible within their organizations. You can read more about my marketing philosophy and get practical advice by visiting www.unleashpossibleblog.com or following me on witter @samanthastone .

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