I won’t bury the lead here. The truth about sales and marketing alignment is it will never be perfect.

What do I mean by that? There will always be tension. And, honestly, healthy tension is a good thing. Healthy tension means the teams are holding each other accountable to deliver. Unhealthy tension is when the teams spend time pointing fingers and placing blame when deals aren’t closing.

The good news? There are 3 things you can do today to keep the tension healthy and balanced.

1. Joint Definitions and Goals

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? I mean, aren’t we all responsible for revenue at the end of the day? But, those that know, know it’s never that simple.

These are the details behind demand-gen plans that are so critical to success, but can be considered tedious and maybe even a little boring. It comes down to sitting at the same table with sales leadership and actually defining and documenting the funnel stages. One funnel. Not a marketing funnel. Not a sales funnel. One funnel that defines how a customer makes it from the top of the marketing funnel down to a closed won deal.

Once that has been defined and documented, the teams can do two things:

First, agree on and document the goals each team is responsible for. How much revenue is marketing going to deliver? Sales? And, for the revenue that marketing is going to deliver, what’s the metric the teams will use to measure marketing’s success? Is it MQL’s? SQL’s? Opportunities? Pipeline?

Second, what are the processes and SLA’s assigned to each stage that will enable success? For example, if marketing is on the hook to deliver SQL’s, what’s the SLA that sales signs up for to ensure leads are moving from MQL to SQL? How does a lead make it from MQL to SQL and how does sales work them?

Once these are defined, you’re ready to implement the technology and process automation required to make it all work.

2. A Well-Implemented Tech Stack

Some of the most contentious meetings I have witnessed between sales and marketing happened when each team had their own, differing set of data. Sales is using their CRM. Marketing is using a separate tool to track program performance and maybe cleaning or appending data to correct attribution. It’s a recipe for disaster. That’s when the finger pointing starts and the teams can’t properly diagnose issues or come to agreement on where they’re tracking to goals.

The good news is, if you’re done step 1 properly, step 2 should be an easy follow-on.

Keep your tech stack simple in the beginning. Your CRM and your marketing automation tools should seamlessly integrate and work together to implement the funnel stages, processes, SLA’s and lead handling you outlined in step 1. Of course, it’s easier said than done. But if you get those two tools right first, practical add-ons should enhance your analytics, not make them more complex and error-prone.

As long as both teams can agree the data is accurate, it becomes very easy to zero in where things are going wrong and where things are going right.

3. Consistent Communication

Just doing the upfront planning on definitions, goals and processes isn’t enough. True alignment has to be ongoing. Weekly meetings to review the marketing calendar, the data, and that leads are moving through the process as they should. Doing this weekly allows you to catch issues quickly – how many untouched leads are there? Did something get uploaded wrong? Is there a choke point we need to address?

This allows the team to achieve the healthy tension we talked about at the beginning of this post. When the teams are aligned around common goals and terminology and are both looking at the same data, these meetings become about holding each other accountable to what each team said they would deliver, and jointly diagnosing and fixing any issues that come up.

This alignment allows the teams to present a united front on the state of the business. If both teams can agree that lead flow is healthy, SQL’s are on track and demos are through the roof this quarter but business isn’t closing, it becomes easy to start asking questions like: is our pricing off? Is there a key feature we’re missing? Are the competitive dynamics shifting?

No one can ask those critical questions if sales and marketing is still sitting in the room on a never ending loop of finger pointing and blame.

4AM Can Help

At 4AM we help do two things for clients:

1. 4AM Demand-Gen Enablement Platform

We have taken our collective decades of experience in B2B marketing and built it into a SaaS solution. Our platform hands teams the blueprint for how to nail sales and marketing alignment both from a process and a technology perspective. We are fully integrated into your CRM and marketing automation tools to not only help align around funnel stages and definitions, but also the processes that enable them. Doing this allows us to pull out the key data and metrics you need to track to ensure success. 

And, for demand-gen teams, it will enable you to take those joint goals and turn them into a lead plan, budget and program mix so you can start to execute. 

2. 4AM Services

For teams that need a little extra help and guidance around how to put all of this into practice, we can do that too. Our teams have been in your shoes doing this for companies for decades. We know what success looks like and want to help get you there. 

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