Are sales and marketing teams showing signs of better alignment? New research from performance marketing consultancy LeadMD leverages hundreds of execs’ feedback to produce a study focused on quantifying the term “sales and marketing alignment,” and distilling the concept down into actionable tactics. The new Sales & Marketing Alignment Report (SMAR) was conducted in partnership with conversational marketing platform Drift.
The study provides insight into the actions, techniques and tactics used by high performing and highly aligned sales and marketing teams versus low performing teams. The research consisted of two cohorts, one in sales and one in marketing. Each cohort consisted of 350 senior-to-C-level professionals of companies with a minimum annual revenue of $25 million. The findings are notable and lend insight into this previously nebulous concept.
“We hear all the time about sales and marketing alignment, but there hasn’t yet been a universal definition around it or a clear conclusion as to whether it truly impacts business outcomes,” said Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD, in a news release. “After conducting this survey, we can say with certainty that sales and marketing alignment—real alignment around the right things, like the customer—absolutely does improve business outcomes. We were also surprised by some of our findings as they refute a lot of the so-called ‘best practices,’ which have become prevalent in B2B. Now we have a baseline we can benchmark against annually, to continue to learn more about the role alignment plays in revenue growth, and how businesses should be executing in order to be successful.”
The report introduces two success vectors which are irrefutable: Pipeline Creation and Revenue Performance. By comparing alignment perceptions, activities and tactics against these performance vectors, the results are anchored in real tangible outcomes.
The research found that leaders in sales and marketing alignment shared six primary focuses that fall into two categories:
By setting key performance indicators (KPIs) around customer retention/satisfaction and new bookings, and performing joint customer visits, the top performers’ sales and marketing teams all united around the customer first.
The leaders in interdepartmental alignment also devoted significant effort to creating and maintaining shared goals and outputs. They prioritized physical proximity between sales and marketing teams, and engaged in joint storytelling, joint in-person strategy & planning sessions and joint budgeting & hiring.
Conversely, laggards in sales and marketing alignment repeatedly demonstrated two behaviors:
- They didn’t share technology and its underlying data.
- Their KPIs were not customer-centric.
“While many sales and marketing teams believe their teams are aligned, our data proves otherwise,” said Mark Kilens, VP of content and community at Drift, in the release. “Bringing this to light is the first step in ensuring true alignment, and I’m excited to see what publishing these findings can do to help.”
Surprisingly, the construction industry led the pack in sales and marketing alignment, while less surprisingly, healthcare lagged at the back of the pack.
This survey ultimately exposed a few final takeaways:
- Alignment perception is unreliable—and alignment itself shouldn’t be the goal; tangible results should be. (i.e. performance in both pipeline creation and revenue conversion)
- Effective alignment focuses both on the customer and intentional internal collaboration
LeadMD announced a new index called the Sales and Marketing Alignment Index (SMAX). This index is also now available to the market at large as a means of continuing data collection; with the output serving as an actionable roadmap for businesses that desire to achieve alignment in their go-to-market teams.