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Align your sales and marketing with reliable opportunity data

Saahil Dhaka
Saahil Dhaka,CEO at Clientell
6 mins read
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Sales and marketing have been setting disconnected goals, using different tools, and measuring performance passively. The teams traditionally haven’t seen quantifiable collaboration and have engaged in a siloed manner. The alignment between sales and marketing is an ongoing debate in boardrooms and contributes to over a trillion dollars in lost revenue each year.

Read on to understand how you can leverage sales and marketing alignment to drive predictable revenue growth.

MQL vs SQL: The inception of misalignment

From lead scoring methods to conversion rates from MQL to SQL is an ongoing debate between each sale and marketing team. Sales believe the leads aren’t qualified and often question their discovery/intent gauging methods. On the other hand, marketing speaks volumes about the number of attrition and intent-tracking funnels bringing in high amounts of leads.

There are countless reasons why leads are lost, but there are often just a few causes of this problem. The most significant being data silos across these teams. For example, a prospect who downloaded an ebook or joined a webinar. A collaborative approach would qualify this lead using the combined attrition and buyer intent data. Think of it like having reps prospect those leads that marketing has generated. This easily reduces the number of junk leads in the funnel and promotes focusing on those with clear intent.

Most commonly, misalignment between sales and marketing arises when:

  1. Marketing hands-off leads to sales without updated contact information and clear intent signals.
  2. Both teams set disconnected revenue goals based and strategies.

Cross-functional collaboration increases effective GTM alignment, performance management, productivity, and growth. The first step to setting the wheels of alignment in motion is incorporating unified data into the process.

Building a decision landscape with unified data

The number one problem sellers face globally is outdated and incomplete contact data. With difficult user experience on CRMs, multiple data types such as intent, attrition, conversational intelligence, etc., and no way to seamlessly share this information, revenue teams lose 10-15% of their pipeline with no fault.

This hampers the seller's experience and the buyer's journey. Imagine a situation where an opportunity was lost due to budget issues and was mismarked in the CRM, and a few months later, that same company raised a new round of funding. In this situation, only a few reps will remember to check back and re-engage with the prospect. Now imagine if the decision maker was not added to the CRM. The entire process of discovery will have to be done again, often losing the opportunity entirely.

Sales and marketing alignment must enable constant data interchange to maximize buyer engagement. There is constantly new prospect information coming in, which has to be gathered and handled so that all information is current and available at all times.

This is exactly what unified data solves.

Using contextual AI, large and unstructured data sets such as call transcripts, emails, website analytics, etc., can be combined to derive actionable insights. These automations help reps save countless hours by automatically updating contact and activity data in the CRM.

Having unified data and contextual insights built on top of this data layer helps visualize areas for improvement within the funnel. Imagine having an AI friend to remind you that an old lost opportunity has just raised funding or how a particular objection was handled three years ago.

A practical approach to sales and marketing alignment

Organizations with aligned sales and marketing, either through a structured RevOps or by leveraging technology, see over 30% higher conversions and a 25% reduction in revenue leakage. The need for having a clear and robust process for overall revenue recognition is clear, but here’s how you can practically do it.

Get your data in place:

The first step to effective alignment lies in understanding the underlying trends within your pipeline. Are you losing opportunities because reps aren’t following up on time, or is it because the lead wasn’t ready to become an opportunity yet? Countless such questions need to be addressed at each step of the funnel to break down pipeline leakage; all of these require a thorough understanding of the data.

Start with creating a weekly cadence to ensure CRM hygiene and ensure all activity, engagement, and key moments are recorded in your sales room. Make sure you have a knowledge cloud around every opportunity, from sentiment to contact info of decision-makers and even basic things like the number of web interactions. Use automation to capture buyer behavior and set reminders for your teams.

Set aligned goals and targets

This must be repeated in every review meeting, as repetition makes perfect. Set combined goals like the total number of SQLs should increase by 30% or increase conversions by 15%. Go bottom up to understand conversion rates at every step of the funnel to define the overall target for marketing. All your OKRs need to be understood by both sales and marketing teams. Ask sales teams to use common objections for marketing material such as case studies and blogs. Use these funnels to generate marketing leads and have sales teams involved from day one.

A common ground for combined targets helps incentivize the team to collaborate and foster a collaborative environment.

Align the buyer's journey to the seller's journey

Increasing competition and limited channels for marketing have limited the scope for differentiation in the B2B buying journey. The buyer is no longer being sold to but rather convinced to choose you over the competition. The modern buyer has enough educational content to make a decision, and thus over 70% of sales often involve three or more buyers. Understand each of their pain points and create material in collaboration with sales teams that is easy to digest and readily available. Involve sales in your nurture process from day one to ease the buyer's conversion path.

Ask your reps to share prospecting strategies with marketing to create relevant funnels and channels for your ICP to discover you. For example, you’re selling to the ops team, but IT is the gatekeeper. Your marketing nurtures IT with technical information and finance with cost-saving related information. This helps address each of their pain points separately and go a step further to share the analytics of this interaction with your sales. What if the IT person never even opened your videos or pdf? You’ll need to have sales ready with relevant info to share.

Create these funnels and loops to have each of your teams ready for any possible interaction with the buyer group and simply win more!

Create combined workflows and data-driven processes

Having your data in place is useless unless you can use the insights to take action. Most leaders rely on intuition-driven decision-making. When sales cycles are long and external market conditions play a significant role in determining your revenue growth, data-driven decision-making is the only way to be on top of your goals. For example, have marketing involved when reviewing discovery calls, as understanding why a prospect took the call is as important as why they make take the next.

Create a culture of data hygiene and collaboration by using virtual deal rooms where everyone can see deal-related data in a single source of truth. If something is missing from marketing or sales, the other will remind them to update it, reducing data loss.

Lastly, invest in software solutions to avoid having large and costly ops teams to ensure revenue alignment. Simple yet powerful automation goes a long way toward setting your Revenue Operations up for success. Learn how high-growth companies like Pixis ensures their sales data accuracy with Clientell.