5 steps to award-winning sales and marketing alignment

Following on from the theme of my recent posts, on what I learned today about sales and marketing automation best practice, I wanted to share more information on the essential topic of sales and marketing alignment. If you think this is a fluffy subject then read the latest industry research:

“Failure to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies costs B2B companies 10% or more of revenue per year.” IDC

“Companies with aligned sales and marketing generate 208% more revenue for their marketing, 36% higher retention & 38% higher win rates.” MarketingProfs

“B2B organisations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster revenue growth and 27% faster profit growth, over a three-year period.” SiriusDecisions

Whichever way you look at it, there is no denying the power of alignment. So, if it achieves such high results then why aren’t we all doing it? Well, sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin but still on opposite sides. We do need each other and we do need to work together, in a joined-up process, for the most important person in our relationship — the customer.

So here are five key steps to take:

  1. Building jointly agreed go-to-market campaigns for awareness, pipeline and ultimately revenue
  2. Offer strong support through continuously improving sales enablement
  3. Clearly define and govern a seamless marketing and sales funnel where everyone contributes to pipeline
  4. Jointly agree KPIs around funnel quality, quantity & velocity — with real-time visibility, on a shared platform, for a single version of the truth
  5. Regular interlocks to improve communication, monitor results, share progress, course correct and build trust — working together as a team

To learn more about these five key steps, please join Dr Chris Boorman, CMO at Automic Software, on the following on-demand webcast, where we go through them in detail, and how they lead to Automic winning a sales and marketing alignment award: Improving alignment between B2B marketing and sales.

[a version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn on 2 December 2016 and updated here on 5 September 2019]

13 crucial questions most leaders can’t answer about their funnel & pipeline

You​ ​don’t​ ​drive​ ​all​ ​the​ ​way​ ​to​ ​work​ ​only​ ​looking​ ​in​ ​your​ ​car’s​ ​rear-view​ ​mirror.​ ​When​ ​you get​ ​to​ ​work​ , however, ​you​ ​might drive​ ​your​ ​business​ ​this​​ ​way—looking​ ​back​ ​at​ ​historical​ ​data​ ​to​ ​make crucial​ ​decisions.​ ​Most​ ​sales and marketing​ ​leaders​ ​use​ ​historical​ ​CRM​ ​and​ ​marketing automation​ ​data. Information ​like;​ ​how​ ​many​ ​leads​ ​were​ ​created,​ ​sales​ ​meetings​ ​completed​ ​or​ ​deals​ ​closed last​ ​week/month/quarter.​ ​​ ​While​ ​these​ ​metrics​ ​have​ ​their​ ​importance,​ ​as​ ​leading​ ​indicators,​ ​you may not best informed if​ ​drive​ ​your​ ​business​ ​only​ ​using​ ​a​ ​rear-view​ ​mirror.​ ​Best-in-class,​ ​high-growth businesses​ ​are​ ​using​ ​forward-looking​ ​metrics​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​their​ ​complete​ ​lead-to-revenue funnel.​ ​The​ ​following​ ​four​ ​categories​ ​contain​ ​the​ ​most​ ​important​ ​forward-looking​ ​questions most companies ​need​ ​to​ ​answer.​

Planning​ ​&​ ​goals 

  1. Is​ ​revenue​ ​on​ ​track​ ​to​ ​hit​ ​future​ ​goals?
    To​ ​answer​ ​this​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​calculate​ ​if​ ​you​ ​are​ ​on​ ​track​ ​to​ ​hit​ ​your​ ​targets​ ​based​ ​on​ ​your​ ​current funnel​ ​momentum.​ ​So​ ​if​ ​you​ ​keep​ ​going,​ ​at​ ​your​ ​current​ ​pace,​ ​will​ ​you​ ​hit​ ​your​ ​future​ ​revenue goals​ ​or​ ​is​ ​there​ ​a​ ​gap​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​fill?
  2. Are​ ​your​ ​goals​ ​realistic?
    Are​ ​your​ ​goals​ ​achievable​ ​and​ ​realistic?​ ​Possibly​ ​too​ ​high​ ​or​ ​surprisingly​ ​too​ ​low?​ ​And​ ​should they​ ​be​ ​adjusted?
  3. If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​not​ ​on​ ​track,​ ​what​ ​changes​ ​do​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​make?
    What​ ​do​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​do​ ​now​ ​to​ ​hit​ ​future​ ​goals?​ ​Can​ ​you​ ​identify​ ​exactly​ ​where​ ​in​ ​the​ ​marketing and​ ​sales​ ​funnel​ ​the​ ​problem​ ​is​ ​occurring?​ ​​ ​Why​ ​is​ ​it​ ​occurring​ ​and​ ​what​ ​can​ ​you​ ​do​ ​about​ ​it?
  4. Are​ ​you​ ​communicating​ ​the​ ​right​ ​information​ ​to​ ​management​ ​&​ ​the​ ​board?
    Does​ ​your​ ​leadership​ ​know​ ​what​ ​to​ ​expect​ ​from​ ​the​ ​revenue​ ​funnel​ ​in​ ​the​ ​future?​ ​Sales​ ​and marketing​ ​leaders​ ​need​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​the​ ​CEO​ ​informed​ ​and​ ​the​ ​CEO​ ​needs​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​the​ ​board​ ​and investors​ ​informed.

    Marketing​ ​strategy​ ​&​ ​demand​ ​generation 

  5. Are​ ​you​ ​generating​ ​the​ ​right​ ​quantity​ ​and​ ​quality​ ​of​ ​leads​ ​today​ ​to​ ​hit​ ​future​ ​revenue targets?
    Are​ ​you​ ​reverse​ ​engineering​ ​your​ ​funnel,​ ​from​ ​revenue​ ​back​ ​to​ ​leads,​ ​to​ ​determine​ ​the​ ​exact number​ ​you​ ​need​ ​based​ ​on​ ​your​ ​current​ ​conversion​ ​rates?​ ​Do​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​improve​ ​conversion rates​ ​(quality)​ ​or​ ​increase​ ​the​ ​number​ ​of​ ​leads​ ​(quantity)​ ​and​ ​bringing​ ​them​ ​in​ ​at​ ​the​ ​right​ ​time​ ​to hit​ ​targets?
  6. Which​ ​channels,​ ​programmes​ ​or​ ​campaigns​ ​are​ ​making​ ​the​ ​greatest​ ​impact?
    Can​ ​you​ ​identify​ ​what​ ​is​ ​having​ ​the​ ​greatest​ ​positive​ ​impact​ ​so​ ​you​ ​can​ ​invest​ ​more​ ​in​ ​this​ ​area?
  7. Which​ ​channels,​ ​programmes​ ​or​ ​campaigns​ ​are​ ​making​ ​the​ ​least​ ​impact?
    Can​ ​you​ ​identify​ ​what​ ​is​ ​having​ ​the​ ​least​ ​impact​ ​so​ ​you​ ​can​ ​divert​ ​spend​ ​to​ ​the​ ​high​ ​performing activities?

    Sales​ ​effort 

  8. Are​ ​leads​ ​being​ ​followed​ ​up​ ​with​ ​the​ ​correct​ ​sales​ ​activities?
    When​ ​sales​ ​receive​ ​or​ ​create​ ​the​ ​adequate​ ​quantity​ ​and​ ​quality​ ​of​ ​leads​ ​are​ ​they​ ​being​ ​followed up​ ​correctly?​ ​Are​ ​they​ ​being​ ​contacting​ ​in​ ​time?​ ​Are​ ​they​ ​being​ ​contacted​ ​enough​ ​times​ ​with appropriate​ ​contact​ ​methods?​ ​Can​ ​you​ ​measure​ ​quality​ ​and​ ​quantity​ ​of​ ​touches​ ​and​ ​time​ ​to​ ​first touch​ ​or​ ​first​ ​contact?​ ​Are​ ​they​ ​taking​ ​too​ ​long​ ​or​ ​not​ ​enough​ ​effort?
  9. Can​ ​you​ ​measure​ ​performance​ ​at​ ​each​ ​funnel​ ​stage​ ​per​ ​sales​ ​rep?
    Not​ ​every​ ​sales​ ​rep​ ​has​ ​the​ ​same​ ​level​ ​of​ ​performance.​ ​How​ ​do​ ​they​ ​compare​ ​across​ ​different stages​ ​of​ ​the​ ​funnel,​ ​who​ ​is​ ​performing​ ​the​ ​best/worst​ ​and​ ​why?
  10. Where​ ​do​ ​you​ ​focus​ ​your​ ​efforts​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​your​ ​revenue​ ​faster?
    Every​ ​business​ ​has​ ​multiple​ ​levers​ ​and​ ​dials​ ​that​ ​can​ ​be​ ​pulled​ ​and​ ​turned​ ​to​ ​make​ ​a​ ​positive impact​ ​on​ ​revenue.​ ​Can​ ​you​ ​easily​ ​identify​ ​which​ ​ones​ ​to​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​to​ ​maximise​ ​results?

    Return​ ​on​ ​investment​ ​(ROI)  

  11. What​ ​is​ ​the​ ​total​ ​ROI​ ​of​ ​our​ ​joint​ ​sales​ ​and​ ​marketing​ ​efforts?
    There​ ​are​ ​multiple​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​measure​ ​ROI,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​customer​ ​acquisition​ ​cost​ ​to​ ​lifetime​ ​value (CAC:LTV),​ ​but​ ​are​ ​you​ ​getting​ ​the​ ​best​ ​return​ ​from​ ​your​ ​sales​ ​and​ ​marketing​ ​costs​ ​and​ ​is​ ​your ROI​ ​getting​ ​better​ ​or​ ​worse?
  12. What​ ​activities​ ​generate​ ​the​ ​greatest​ ​return?
    Similar​ ​to​ ​looking​ ​at​ ​the​ ​best​ ​revenue-generating​ ​campaigns,​ ​are​ ​you​ ​monitoring​ ​the​ ​actual return​ ​and​ ​factoring​ ​in​ ​the​ ​costs​ ​of​ ​sales​ ​and​ ​marketing​ ​time​ ​and​ ​efforts?
  13. What​ ​should​ ​you​ ​spend​ ​in​ ​the​ ​future​ ​on​ ​sales​ ​and​ ​marketing​ ​investments?
    Should​ ​you​ ​spend​ ​more​ ​on​ ​sales​ ​and​ ​marketing​ ​activities​ ​and/or​ ​headcount​ ​to​ ​hit​ ​future​ ​goals?

As​ ​you​ ​look​ ​to​ ​drive​ ​your​ ​business​ ​forward,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​fully​ ​aligned​ ​sales​ ​and​ ​marketing​ ​team,​ ​I’m sure​ ​you​ ​agree​ ​these​ ​forward-looking​ ​questions​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​answered​ ​to​ ​give​ ​you​ ​the​ ​best possible​ ​chance​ ​of​ ​success.​ ​Many​ ​businesses​ ​have​ ​gaps​ ​in​ ​their​ ​business​ ​intelligence​ ​when​ ​it comes​ ​to​ ​forward-looking​ ​metrics.​ ​All​ ​too​ ​often​ ​the​ ​data​ ​is​ ​in​ ​outdated​ ​spreadsheets​ ​or​ ​static, rigid​ ​reports​ ​spread​ ​across​ ​too​ ​many​ ​dashboards.

As​ ​I’ve​ ​helped​ ​multiple​ ​clients​ ​manage​ ​the​ ​entire​ ​lead-to-funnel​ ​process​ ​and​ ​answer​ ​the​ ​above questions,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​be​ ​reassured​ ​it​ ​is​ ​possible.​ ​By​ ​using​ ​the​ ​Revenue​ ​Funnel​ ​Science framework​ ​you​ ​too​ ​can​ ​correctly​ ​measure,​ ​forecast​ ​and​ ​optimise​ ​your​ ​sales​ ​and​ ​marketing funnel​ ​to​ ​hit​ ​or​ ​exceed​ ​your​ ​future​ ​revenue​ ​targets.