3 Reasons Sales & Marketing Aren’t Aligned…

…and how to fix it

I often describe our work as couples therapy for Sales and Marketing. How much of the buying process is conducted before sales gets involved is hotly debated. SiriusDecisions has done some great research on the topic. They suggest that instead of the buyers are entering the process more than 60% through the buying cycle, they are engaging early and looking for more support from Sales. Hubspot is singing a similar tune with their newly-coined term Smarketing, and plethora of Sales & Marketing Alignment Resources to lay the foundation.

The upshot: Sales and Marketing can’t afford to not get along anymore — and they don’t need just to align, they are one. There is one thing that I can’t find in these great tools and strategies: Why? Why aren’t Sales and Marketing getting along? There are articles out there that attempt to answer that question, but most are about resulting behaviors and less about underlying causes. Here are the underlying causes:

  1. No explicit shared vision. Neither team knows what the company is trying to achieve or sees how they fit into what the company is trying to do. They are, therefore, likely have different ideas of success.
  2. Compensation is not aligned. One of our clients recently came to us saying that Marketing was exceeding expectations, but Sales wasn’t making its number. When we dug around a bit we found some surprising results: lead-to-op was very low, but op-to-close remained high. Marketing was compensated on leads generated and made their number while Sales and overall the company revenue fell short of expectations.
  3. Culture of blame. Everyone needs someone to blame. It’s easier to point a finger at another team if something goes wrong than to work together to figure out how to fix it.

What can you do about it?

Create a clear vision and strategies that are in service to that vision. This process cascades and subsequently each department, team and individual must create their own vision and strategies that support the overall top-level company vision. Salesforce does this with V2MOM, Symantec creates Victory Plans, and many other companies use GOSPA.

Change your compensation plan. Some of our clients have compensated reps more for net new logos vs. overall deal value, set up specific additional compensation for deals in specific industries, and provided some compensation to reps for deals that are self-service sales to drive customer success behavior. Check out some ways to align compensation.

Spread the blame (and wins) around. Create a culture where everyone shares responsibility. Set up regular (weekly, monthly or quarterly) meetings to talk about how campaigns and pipeline are running, and be sure to discuss cooperation between the teams. Borrow from project management and use a Lessons Learned template like this one from Wrike where you answer questions about what you should keep doing in addition to what needs to change.