How to align marketing and sales with revenue-driven marketing
[UPDATED] Originally published on February 1st, 2019
As more marketers come off the MQL hamster wheel and chase pipeline and revenue, one thing is evident: you have to align marketing and sales. According to Salesforce’s State of Marketing report, 79% of high-performing marketers share common goals with sales teams.
While the benefits of bridging this gap — reduced cost, efficient processes, increased conversions — have been long understood, one study shows marketers identify misalignment between marketing and sales as the second leading cause of poor pipeline and lagging revenue.
This growing friction between sales and marketing is attributable to changing roles and KPIs.
Marketing no longer farms leads only to push them onto sales. They are responsible for a customer’s entire journey — from lead to engaged user. The primary metric to measure marketers is (you guessed it!) revenue.
The same is true for sales teams. Sales reps are not waiting around for high-quality leads to trickle in or mindlessly running outbound campaigns. They’re out there making connections, keeping leads warm, and personalizing their customer conversations.
The need of the hour? A strategic and systematic approach that helps bridge the gap between sales and marketing, a.k.a. revenue-driven marketing.
The shift to revenue-driven marketing results in a closer alignment with sales and helps marketing become a profit center instead of a cost center.
Worried about the conflict between sales and marketing? You’re not alone
According to LinkedIn’s Moments of Trust report, 87% of sales and marketing leaders believe collaboration between the two teams is critical for the business to grow. But while the strategic intent exists, the reality doesn’t match up.
For Moments of Trust, LinkedIn commissioned Forrester Consulting to examine sales and marketing alignment to uncover the gaps, and they found four areas where misalignment occurs — Strategy, Process, Content & Messaging, and Culture:
- 96% of sales and marketing pros reported strategy misalignment
- 86% of sales and marketing pros spend their efforts on the same accounts
- Sales and marketing don’t report to the same executive
- 97% of professionals grapple with process mismatch
- Sales and marketing tech is not well integrated
- Teams don’t cooperate on pipeline growth
- Sales and marketing pros have different plans for engagement
Content and messaging
- 97% of marketing and sales face issues with content and messaging
- Marketing creates content without input from sales
- Content is not helpful to lead buyers through the funnel
- 93% of pros identify cultural misalignment
- Teams don’t actively participate in each other’s planning
- Communication between teams isn’t consistent
How does a lack of alignment between marketing and sales affect the company?
For starters, misalignment between marketing and sales can result in lost revenue and disengaged employees.
In fact, research reported by HBR revealed that when sales and marketing aren’t aligned on pricing and compensation strategies, three things can happen:
- Employees become disgruntled and contribute to a defeatist climate
- Unnecessary friction results in lost sales opportunities
- Salespeople still find sales enablement resources, but it costs the company profits
But here’s the thing: While the “war” between marketing and sales can shrink your profit margins and cause employee disengagement, there’s a common victim — the customer.
So real alignment isn’t just about collaboration — it’s about delivering value to the customer. And that can only happen when you become revenue driven.
3 ways to achieve complete sales and marketing alignment
At Clearbit, we came up with three rules for developing a revenue-driven marketing mindset that will help close the gap between marketing and sales:
- Chase revenue metrics, not vanity metrics
- Build repeatable and scalable programs to activate your ICP
- Create a culture of experimentation with data as the backbone
Since many marketing and sales teams are now working to improve the same metrics, and much has been said about a data-driven tech stack to enable experimentation, we’ll zero in on the remaining tip: You need repeatable and scalable programs to activate your ICP.
Develop your ICP and orient the team
While traditional marketing stops at lead generation, revenue-driven marketers need to guide buyers through the entire customer funnel.
To do so, you have to build an ideal customer profile by researching target accounts and high-fit customers.
“Revenue-driven marketing starts with a clear understanding of your most important customers. Once you know this, you can develop an ICP and orient your team around it. That includes everything from targeting, messaging, positioning, content, scoring, routing, and more.”
Nick Wentz, VP of Marketing, Clearbit
Clearbit Enrichment adds over 100 B2B data points on every account to gain more insights into your valuable customers.
Then, it comes down to messaging. For everything on your website to the targeted ads launched, marketing and sales must be on the same page.
For instance, does your website use content that is consistent with the language your sales team uses to win deals? Does the copy on targeted ads use the same jargon your customers do?
The same is true for processes like lead scoring and qualification. Marketing and sales teams have to agree on what a high-quality lead is, so only qualified buyers make it through to sales.
By operationalizing their ICP with Clearbit, RStudio didn’t just generate leads — the company found high-value opportunities with 2x the number of qualified leads at a 20x cheaper cost.
Perfect the customer journey via the right content and channels
Nailing your ICP is just half the battle. Work with your GTM (go-to-market) teams to create a roadmap of the ideal customer journey from awareness to paying customer, so you can engage them from their first interaction with your brand.
“GTM teams who work collaboratively to understand the ideal customer’s journey from awareness to advocacy stages will know how to better attract, convert, and empower their customers.”
Justin Tsang, Growth Product Manager, Clearbit
One way to do this is by setting up your site for personalization, by hard coding it, or using a personalization platform like Mutiny, Google Optimize, or Optimizely.
Then, use a Reverse IP lookup software like Clearbit Reveal to de-anonymize visitor information. Based on the IP address of site visitors, you can glean company-level information on who’s browsing (such as industry, sub-industry, company size, and even company name) to get a sense of how they’re interacting with your website.
When target accounts visit your site, your personalization platform will trigger a relevant, personalized experience.
You can also use this opportunity to launch a custom live chat on the site or use it to trigger personalized outreach campaigns. Reveal can be used to set up alerts for the sales team to act instantly on high-intent, high-fit prospects.
Using Clearbit to create a better customer experience with shortened forms, Gong increased its demo requests by 70%.
P.S. Want a way to automatically discover, capture, and activate your best-fit, high-intent web visitors? Try Clearbit Capture. Capture adds new accounts showing intent on your website to your CRM and enables you to launch targeted marketing and sales outreach.
Establish shared accountability to prevent siloed execution
LinkedIn’s Moments of Trust report revealed that 90% of sales and marketing professionals say when messaging and initiatives are aligned, there is a positive impact on the customer experience.
But 9 in 10 professionals reported that sales and marketing were at odds when it came to strategy, process, content, and even culture.
Leadership, sales, and operations have to come together to define goals for marketing and sales, create SLAs (service level agreements), and set up periodic check-ins to ensure the alignment stays on track.
This approach lets sales and marketing focus on the one thing that matters the most: delivering value to the customer.
Read 3 ways Clearbit enables revenue-driven marketing
Ending the war between marketing and sales
Instead of toiling away in silos without really understanding what the other team is doing or what’s making an impact, teams can help each other succeed and advocate for themselves by becoming revenue driven.
At its worst, misalignment between marketing and sales teams provokes tension and holds back performance. Close the gaps between them to create a learning loop, and you’ll help your company refine internal strategies, design better campaigns, and close more deals to ultimately benefit your bottom line.