Why should you align marketing and sales?

I have mentioned this in a previous blog post, but the statistic is so crazy that I must mention it again – according to Hubspot’s annual
State of Inbound” report, only 26% of companies that participated in the research, claim to have their marketing and sales departments to be aligned.

In the same report, it says that 85% of companies that have their departments aligned, see their marketing strategy as effective. It is by far the more resultative way to be working for sales and marketing.

The companies that have sales and marketing rarely aligned, named their marketing strategy to be 46% effective.

The misaligned companies have their number as low as 24%, but if you are reading this article, I hope you’re not that far from where you need to be.

If these numbers are not enough, keep on reading!

In the companies that have their departments tightly working together, 39% claim to get majority of their leads from marketing and 69% of them say that the most qualified leads that the company reaches, come from inbound marketing and not sales or referrals.

39% might not seem a lot, but it is more than the leads received from referrals and sales are managing to get.

Wouldn’t you want your sales department to be doing active selling, things THAT BRING DIRECT REVENUE, while the lead generation could be left in the hands of marketing?

The companies I talk about above, are the ones that use their marketing departments to the fullest.

They have the most positive numbers when put next to companies that miss the opportunity and do not align the two revenue bringing departments in their organization.

If this is not big of a reason, check out the two articles I wrote on 3 Reasons To Listen To Your Marketing Department and This Is Why Marketing Should Have Commission where I talk even more on how much value marketing can bring and is bringing to businesses that want to reach results.

How to align marketing and sales?

In my opinion, one of the signs of a neatly put together business is that everyone is responsible for the things they know best.

A company cannot reach its full potential if the structure and job division does not allow the employees to do the things they are the most knowledgeable at.

And that is one of the biggest reasons why marketing and sales must be restructured.

For that a few things must happen:

  • Division of responsibilities
  • Structuring the processes
  • Setting KPIs
  • Defining common language and defining the leads
  • Finding the right tool

Those are the 5 things that can lead you through a restructuring of your department and I will analyze them 1 by 1.

1. Division of responsibilities

I have discussed it more elaborately on my previously mentioned blog posts, but this is how I would put it into one sentence:

Marketing should keep on doing what they have been doing until now, but they should also concentrate on supporting sales in the direct sales process as well as bring majority of the leads in the company.

You might be feeling a part of you being against this new way of thinking. This is more work for marketing, more responsibility, even a different profile to certain companies.

But this is the only way people who are best at what they do, will be actually doing it.

How can marketing help in the direct sales process?

Marketing people are professionals at research and creativity. They are also wizards when it comes to communicating value and personalizing.

Sales people are great at real life conversations, relationship building and closing.

However, as for many years it was enough for them to present benefits and features of their product, it has not been an easy road when the market has switched into having a big need to stand out and communicate value when doing sales.

Sales representatives are still struggling with selling value and a personalized experience to their clients.

They often lack ideas on how to approach their clients in unique ways and that is why marketing should take part of that responsibility if you want to increase the amount of meetings your sales department is booking.

Direct responsibilities

  • Creating a personalized value proposition to the client
  • Assisting in creating a visual presentation for the client (the one you’d draw on a whiteboard)
  • Creating a pdf that summarizes the meeting and gives information to keep the client interested
  • Making a follow up based on the client’s personal/work interests that would allow to check in in a meaningful way and keep the client in the loop
  • etc.

Follow ups are an issue as if you are not ready to buy a product, you do not want to receive plain emails or calls asking the same question over and over again.

That is why follow ups must be creative, personalized and valuable to the potential client. Even if they will not yet be ready to talk contract, they will not be annoyed for interrupting their day and will remember you in a positive thankful way.

There is a number of other things that might be done by marketing rather than a sales responsible in order to have people capitalize on their strengths and not waste time on the things they are simply average at, you simply have too look at it from the perspective of who is best at doing a certain job in the department.

Marketing should increase your content and online presence

As Inbound Marketing has determined that content must surround our clients in order for them to start looking our way, it is not enough for sales representatives to have a half-filled LinkedIn profile and a business card.

Sales people must be releasing content on the company’s blog, they should be sharing their opinions on LinkedIn, sharing their articles as well as articles of others together with their opinions.

They should be constantly building their presence online and be visible to their connections and potential clients.

However, that is a lot of work that is not capitalizing on what sales people are best at.

Marketing should be creating content for every social media that your main sales people need to be using.

They should take care of increasing your sales representative’s visibility and do it for them. In some cases however, sales reps could post in their own social channels, but this should only be small and quick updates. The longer posts and articles should be prepared by marketing first.

Sales people should adapt it, not create it, because neither is it their strength, nor is it the best way they could be using their time for.

Have marketing people create and your sales people adapt.

Even if you have your company’s profile on LinkedIn, it is not going to attract your potential clients as much, as the people who work there if the message they’re sending is what your potential client needs.

LEADS – the responsibility of both marketing and sales

The statistics show that companies that align their marketing and sales departments, get majority of their leads from marketing, they are also the most qualified ones.

Having that in mind, marketing should take on the responsibility of bringing majority of the leads.

You might have been hiring more sales people in order to get more meetings, but it is actual inbound marketing that is bringing more qualified leads than hundreds of vague cold calls.

Sales will still be reaching out to the contacts they were referred to or potential clients from the past, they definitely have a good insight in the market and might have ideas on where good leads could be.

But they should not spend the larger part of the day doing research and cold calling.

Sales people should be nurturing the leads that are already known to be potential and have a good chance on bringing in a sale.

2. Structuring the processes

This is a crucial part in aligning the two departments as if not done with a lot of thought and planning, it can ruin the whole alignment in a matter of weeks.

People hate to be interrupted or work without a clarity of what are the steps that need to be taken and how should their work flow look like in the organization.

After determining the responsibilities of individual people, you should decide which people should have interactions, how does certain information reach others and what results belong to what people.

Structuring the process in marketing and sales alignment will require time, patience, positive attitude and a lot of trial and error.

Prepare your employees for the challenge they are going to feel when this takes them out of their comfort zone, as any big positive change will do that.

3. Setting KPIs

This should come as something you are already on top of, therefore it is only a reminder.

As people will be given new responsibilities, every task must come with clear KPIs and must have exact criteria that can be measured by.

Do not forget to have sales representatives’ certain KPIs increase, while a part of their responsibilities are passed on to marketing. If they now have to find less leads, they should be booking more meetings.

4. Defining common language and defining the leads

This is something that might seem even too simple to put it in here, but the reality is that even if marketing and sales work for the same goal and sometimes partly even do similar things, they use different words to describe it.

If these two departments are to work like one, they must determine what terminology will be used for the sake of having the communication be clear and effective.

What marketing thinks of when they think of a lead, might be different to what sales have in mind.

It might seem basic but people get frustrated when somebody doesn’t understand exactly what they mean, especially in an environment that is already challenging because of the changes that are happening.

What is a qualified lead anyway?

I feel like this is one of the biggest issues that still strike the relationship of sales and marketing.

Even without any alignment initiatives, there are too many sales organizations that chase the wrong people.

So often marketing has a different picture of what is a good lead than sales, which results in a complete mistrust and lack of openness in the departments.

For the sales and marketing alignment to be successful, there must a clear answer to the question of who exactly are you targeting?

  • What is your industry?
  • What is the location?
  • What technologies do they use?
  • What is their financial situation?
  • How many employees do they have?
  • Who is the exact person you want to reach?
  • When did they join the company?
  • Etc.

I write about how to find this information on the 7 Sales Tools You Will Actually Use and I also elaborate on how is this so important on 3 Things You Need To Do When Prospecting. Check them out if you feel like you could use some support in the process.

If you feel like you are having a very difficult time defining who exactly you should target, then you should drop me a message and we can look into it together.

A quality lead must be defined to the smallest of details, so marketing and sales have the exact picture in mind.

When to act

Another important factor of definition is when exactly is the lead ready to be approached directly by the sales representative.

Even if marketing finds the people that fit your previously mentioned profile, you must determine at what point in their inbound journey, should you directly contact the lead.

Sales might want to jump the trigger early in the stage where the lead is simply getting familiar with your company, while marketing might wait a little longer when the potential lead already had multiple interactions with your product and would be more likely to hear more about it.

You don’t want to have your sales people contact the potential lead while marketing still has two steps of the funnel planned out for them.

There can’t be any of the misalignment as such, therefore you must define the point of action and stick to it to assure effectiveness and clarity of when the lead is ready.

5. Finding the right tool

My strong recommendation is to stick to one tool, maximum 2 that would bring all of this work together.

There are tools like HubSpot that bring together both marketing and sales together while leading inbound marketing and gathering CRM.

If you choose to use a different tools, make sure the tools allow you to track the full journey of your lead, give you alerts during different parts of the process, allow you to register every move that the potential lead does and records the steps your employees took to interact with them.

Your tool must make it simple to track how much money was invested into the process and what is the return on investment.


Marketing and sales alignment is a powerful shift that companies need to turn to sooner or later, as inbound marketing will not become less important, it will only get more intense in time.

There are 5 points to follow when striving to initiate the processes of marketing and sales alignment.

  • Division of responsibilities
  • Structuring the processes
  • Setting KPIs
  • Defining common language and defining the leads
  • Finding the right tool

However, even if it is hard or will require quite some effort to redefine responsibilities and divide your resources, this is something that will finally bring that growth into your sales department that you have been looking for in your business.

It might mean hiring new people or restructuring your teams in a way that you do not even know how to call their responsibilities exactly, it might mean that some people are not so sure anymore whether they belong to official marketing or sales department.

It is okay.

As long as your company is growing and you assure that people know who, when and how to approach, the reorganization will walk forward.

Want to implement it in your organization?

If you want to consult or get a better look at how your organization could restructure sales and marketing, hit me up directly at
oliver@oliverlopez.se, call me at 0767-83 64 00 or connect with me on LinkedIn!

Don’t let the change scare you, get on top of inbound marketing and personalized value selling as soon as you can.

If you like what I am writing about and you want more inspiration on how to bring marketing and sales departments closer or how can value based selling change your results, book me as a speaker for your next event.

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