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fightingdogcatIt’s no secret – the classic love-hate relationship between sales and marketing groups negatively impacts top-line results. In an interview with Jon Miller earlier this year, Christine Crandell said: “Telltale signs of misalignment can be seen in industry statistics for B2B sales: 80 percent of leads passed on to sales are dropped; 90 percent of marketing collateral is unused; and the total cost of winning a net new enterprise customer via direct sales carries a hefty price tag averaging $500,000. Even worse, fully 80 percent of enterprise technology deals won are not influenced by marketing at all.”

In its report, Closing the Gap: The Sales & Marketing Imperative, the CMO Council states that “many companies worldwide still fall short of realizing aligned sales goals and marketing activities.” Here are some highlights of its findings:

  • 56% of sales, marketing and channel management professionals surveyed report that their companies do not yet have any formal programs, systems or processes for unifying sales and marketing.
  • Just 16% of respondents describe their sales and marketing functions as being extremely collaborative

And IDC’s 2010 Buyer Experience Study uncovered the following:

  • Over 50% of sales reps are insufficiently prepared for customer meetings
  • 47% of buyers are dissatisfied with the quality and value of information from IT vendors
  • Sales reps are unable to put aside the generic sales pitch to have deeper conversations with their prospects/customers

Why the Gap Still Exists

On the one hand, it seems simple enough to solve this issue: sales and marketing must work together as a team to tee up everything needed to pull in leads, lead them through the buying cycle, and convert them to customers. But the devil, as they say, is in the details.

It can feel overwhelming to come to agreement on everything from what constitutes a lead and what are the top issues to address in marketing messaging to determining at what point a lead should be handed over to sales and how to measure the results. Many corporate cultures don’t support a meeting of the minds between sales and marketing. And without the support of upper management, any valiant attempts to close the gap will likely fizzle out. It also doesn’t help that sales and marketing are driven by vastly different mindsets. Whereas marketing often revolves around a campaign schedule that can be drawn out over months, sales is sweating to meet quota every month. These are just some of the reasons why marketing and sales seem to endlessly butt heads.

Why Workarounds No Longer Work

To date, organizations have found ways to move forward in spite of these barriers. Marketing launches campaigns and generates leads, and sales runs with what it perceives to be the best of them, often leading the prospect to a sale in what marketing perceives to be a renegade manner (e.g., creating their own content and messages, etc.).

But this approach is proving less and less effective as the B2B buying process changes. Now that buyers are in control and sales reps don’t get involved until late in the buying cycle, marketing has taken on a new responsibility – shepherding prospects much further along the path to purchase until they’re finally ready to talk to sales. The sales team often feels left out of the loop and unprepared to continue the conversation when they’re finally interacting with leads.

Come Together, Right Now

So what’s the answer? It’s not glamorous, but it’s imperative – sales and marketing must come together to establish a blueprint for success. In a methodical manner, they need to hammer out the processes, messages, and strategies for pulling prospects in and getting them to buy. Those that do – and that stay true to the plan – end up producing better results.

Tap into Expert Insights

I teamed with AG Salesworks to produce an eBook in which we lay out eight steps for getting sales and marketing aligned. In developing the eBook, I interviewed the following industry experts for their insights and recommendations:


Download the eBook.