Sales & Marketing Collaboration: ‘Alignment’ Isn’t The Right Goal For Optimal Buyer Experience

Published: April 27, 2020

Kevin Cunningham MRP headshotIt’s no secret, B2B marketers need to work with their sales brethren to target the right prospects and customers, successfully engage these buyers through multiple channels and deliver an optimum buyer experience. But organizational silos continue to fragment the buyer experience and product-centric go-to-market strategies still govern.

Is it possible that the reason why sales and marketing alignment remains elusive is that the term “alignment” isn’t sufficient; it doesn’t capture the real sense of what’s essential? While alignment may look great on paper, the reality is that it’s impossible to achieve if sales and marketing operate as two different organizations that exist to plan, orchestrate and optimize two separate processes.

The move from conventional “alignment” to sales and marketing collaboration requires a focus on more than just getting the two functions to work together. B2B sales and marketing leaders need to develop buyer-focused engagement strategies that rely on joint planning and execution across the organization. This operational collaboration reinforces the narrative that sales and marketing are profoundly interdependent. In other words, both functions must recognize that they need each other and that a coordinated approach to revenue generation is essential for success. But these factors aren’t sufficient to create the level of sales-marketing cohesiveness and coordination that are needed for high-performance ABM and revenue generation.

True collaboration requires marketing and sales to work cohesively at all levels of both functions, translating collaboration to execution. The more complex and longer the buying process, the greater the need for this collaboration to exist. Marketing needs to target intelligently to design conversion and revenue-optimized buyer journeys. However, a lengthy sales cycle makes it problematic for the sales function, which is measured on tight quarterly goals, to sustain steady engagement. Both roles need to agree on how they will collaboratively manage this demand while providing an accountable environment that aligns sales and marketing buyer engagement strategies.

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One of the biggest obstacles to this collaboration is the use of inconsistent and duplicate measurement efforts across sales and marketing. Collaboration calls for a single source of truth to measure, base and optimize the demand engine. This consolidation of cross-functional data can unify teams in a way that is both objective and scalable, making it easier to track pipeline conversion performance while still driving revenue and identifying any constraints across the funnel. A best-in-class ABM platform helps provide the fundamental measurement and analytics to help foster this collaboration. When combined with CRM and marketing automation systems, ABM technology helps provide the coordinated insights, orchestration and omnichannel actions that help prove — through analytics — that this collaboration is not only worthwhile but necessary to remain competitive in today’s environment.

Preparing sales and marketing teams for ABM and this collaborative environment requires re-education and diligence, but the results are worth it. When sales and marketing cooperate, customers win with a better buying experience. And the organization wins with better communication among teams, more accountability to the overarching revenue goals and most importantly, higher ROI. 

Kevin Cunningham co-founded MRP in 2002, now the largest and most tenured enterprise-class predictive ABM platform in the world. After years of successful growth in the U.S. market, Kevin led the First Derivatives, PLC acquisition of MRP in 2008, and he then directed the expansion of MRP’s presence across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In addition to his role as CEO, Kevin serves on the board of Executive Management for First Derivatives, and the Board of Trustees of Settlement Music School, the largest community school of the arts in the United States.

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