Three Factors Impacting Contemporary Marketing and Sales Interlock

1 Jun 22

With accelerated growth agendas and pressure facing the C-suite, market-leading organizations recognize the powerful and critical interlock between Marketing and Sales.

Last week, SBI held an executive roundtable meeting for commercial leaders with the goal of unpacking Marketing and Sales interlock for revenue growth. The group combined leaders mostly from private equity backed companies in software, technology, SaaS, and business services.

In this collaborative environment, leaders agreed the recipe for success in creating Marketing and Sales interlock is dependent on three main factors:

  1. Alignment on the customer journey
  2. Full-funnel coordination
  3. Co-ownership of lead nurture and management

As seen and heard from this powerful roundtable, we will further expand upon each bullet.

Alignment on the Customer Journey

To avoid misalignment between Marketing and Sales, start with a joint roadmap of the customer journey. Too often, differing opinions exist causing a myriad of functional issues down the line. An agreed-upon buying journey is the first step. Factors affecting the customer journey include a general increase in the buying decision team and buyers’ digital experiences.

Buying committees have generally increased to ten or more decision-makers, often spanning multiple functions, thus changing the way Marketing first, then Sales, interacts with customers. In these buying committees, vendors are searching for a collective agreement, rather than focusing on a collection of yesses, in regards to a solution to the problem. Marketing and Sales must work together across the entire funnel of the customer journey to help engage the purchasing team, particularly stakeholders outside of sales’ direct reach. Further, despite varying roles and opinions on the buying team, Marketing can help stakeholders arrive at a shared understanding of their business problem, solution, and vendor.

The current customer journey starts with the digital experience. Customers spend more time researching and less time interacting with vendors in their sales process. Meaningful customer engagement across digital channels is critical to the sale. Leading companies leverage digital tools with advanced analytics to recommend automated content outreach, factoring in the buying persona, where they are at in the funnel, and stage-appropriate solutions. Tools, when correctly leveraged, help the broader set of customer stakeholders navigate their purchasing journey.

Full Funnel Coordination

Once the customer journey is agreed upon by Marketing and Sales, common language, definitions, and metrics across both teams is the next step to a better integrated Go-To-Market Team. This integration enables the conditions for full-funnel coordination.

Typically, three sources of friction exist between Marketing and Sales:

  1. A belief that Marketing alone is responsible for lead generation.
    In truth, everyone is responsible, not just marketing, and a collaborative process will enable an outcome where everyone can and will generate leads.
  2. Credit for lead sourcing.
    Often this results from misaligned KPIs stressing up funnel activities, not velocity and conversion. Focusing Marketing and Sales on full-funnel activation helps improve coordination and partnership across the funnel, easing “finger-pointing” at the top of the funnel.
  3. Attribution for progression.
    Attempting to manually model lead attribution leads to skepticism and often inaccurate conclusions. Agreement beforehand on attribution scoring and deploying attribution modeling tools will tamp down friction.

If common KPIs are to be adopted, you must examine the pervasive belief that Marketing focuses up funnel and Sales down-funnel.

Co-ownership of Lead Nurture and Management

Lead ownership, nurturing, and management needs to be a “team sport.” Outdated thinking is that Marketing created the lead, nurtured the lead, and once that lead ownership transitioned to Sales, Marketing was done impacting the lead. Today, full-funnel marketing impacts the customer across their entire journey. Marketing builds full-funnel collateral and content across the customer journey. Increasingly, top-performing reps “pull in marketing” to assist in bottom funnel activities, to help them reach and engage the entire buying team.

Across the board, commercial leaders in the roundtable agreed that driving a regular cadence between Marketing and Sales leaders is critical to the success of the company. Sales leaders acknowledged and respected that Marketing has other responsibilities than to just the sales team including bringing products to market. Due to the historical friction among the two functions, all agreed that good communication and leadership is required to break through those barriers and build trust.


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