Astute B2B marketing and sales professionals have long recognized the importance of having a productive relationship between marketing and sales, and many B2B companies have been working to build such relationships for more than a decade. So it’s understandable that sales-marketing alignment has been a hot topic in B2B marketing and sales circles for the past several years.
Overall, there’s no doubt that most companies have made at least some progress toward creating a more productive relationship between marketing and sales. It’s also clear, however, that most companies still have work to do to turn their marketing and sales organizations into a cohesive, high-performing team.
A research report published late last year by LeadMD and Drift provides several important – and somewhat surprising – insights about the state of sales-marketing alignment, and about what business leaders need to do to reap the maximum benefits from a productive marketing and sales relationship.
The LeadMD Sales and Marketing Alignment Survey Benchmarking & Insights Report was based on a survey of 350 sales and marketing executives. Forty-four percent of the respondents were sales executives, 26% were marketing executives, and 30% were executives with responsibility for both functions. The respondents were drawn from several industries, and all were with companies having at least $25 million in annual revenue.
One primary objective of this study was to develop an evidence-based and actionable description of “meaningful” sales and marketing alignment. The researchers decided that alignment should be called meaningful if it is correlated with two business outcomes:
- Growth in revenue, wins, and lead quality over a 3-year period
- Pipeline health (growth and sustainability in predictable revenue)
- The use of key performance indicators that are shared by sales and marketing. Ironically, the survey found that the mere existence of shared KPIs is enough – a lack of achievement around such KPIs did not negatively influence perceptions about alignment quality.
- Overall, the surveyed executives had positive feelings about both functions. In other words, sales and marketing leaders generally respect each other.
The second distinguishing attribute of leaders is that they are more likely than laggards to take specific actions to foster ongoing collaboration between their marketing and sales teams, as the following table illustrates: