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Aligning Sales and Marketing: Introduction to a Three-Part Series

by Kayla Portillo

Actionable Suggestions for Resource-Strapped, Tech-Challenged, Stressed Out Business Leaders

If you had asked me 10 years ago why aligning sales and marketing was a challenge, I would have looked at you a little confused. I mean, aren’t they pretty similar? If you search for jobs in marketing, I’d guess 75% of the results that come up are actually front-line sales jobs.

After nearly two years in an account manager role at a growth consultancy firm with extensive digital marketing capabilities, I’ve had a front-row seat to the dysfunction that can occur when these two roles are out of sync. In the age of content marketing, marketing automation, lead generation, and sales enablement, there are countless tools, processes, models, and technologies designed specifically to address this problem.

So let’s say you are in a leadership role at one of those places that has a sales team and a marketing team, and like most company leaders, you think these departments should work seamlessly together. There are any number of reasons why this is not a given (and indeed is a major challenge) in most organizations.

Maybe the company wasn’t structured to support sales and marketing alignment, and the sales department reports to a completely different VP than the marketing department. Maybe the marketing department is tasked with launching creative brand campaigns, but the sales team just wants a product spec sheet they can send to a prospect, so they start creating their own sales tools in Word. Maybe both departments are so incredibly busy that they don’t have the bandwidth to spend any time comparing notes on what they’re seeing in the marketplace. Maybe there’s a technology gap, and the two departments don’t have access to the same information about leads and new business.

Whatever the reason (and I’m not here to point fingers or place blame) most people acknowledge that their business would run smoother, and their sales and marketing operations would be more successful overall if these two areas connected in a meaningful and strategic way.

Red Caffeine does a lot of digital marketing for B2B companies, and we would love a world where this is the way businesses work -- where sales and marketing alignment is the standard. You want to know why?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s because we stand to lose business when we can’t get this right with our customers. And both parties --sales and marketing-- play a critical role in the alignment process.

Red Caffeine has seen the best client relationships when we:

  • Develop a brand that the sales and marketing teams both connect with and are excited to represent in the marketplace
  • Create branded materials and sales tools that were requested by the sales reps and answer the questions they hear from customers every day
  • Have conversations around leads to understand - what business are you winning? What business are you losing? What business is just not a fit at all?

Any decent marketing provider you work with wants to demonstrate ROI. They want to connect what they are doing to your sales and annual revenue. But with most companies who work with external agencies, there are some fundamental gaps in how we work together that make this almost impossible.

If this sounds like something that keeps you up at night, stay tuned. In this 3-part blog series, I’ll step through some easy and some more involved, but all attainable, ways that you can actually make your sales and marketing processes link up better. I’ll be drawing on my experiences working with B2B clients who have small sales teams, usually no CRM or technology in place to support their sales processes, and who are lean enough that their best marketing plans are driven by sales insights that fuel strategic growth.

You’re not alone. This misalignment is a pain point for a lot of organizations. Check back soon to learn the first steps to sales and alignment marketing in your organization. (Can’t wait? Drop me a line!)