What an integrated Sales-Marketing unit looks like

sales marketing alignment

See that big, formidable monstrosity of a wall down below?

On the other side are some people I’d like you to meet: The other half of your business development team.

I’ve been consulting B2B manufacturers for long enough now that running into one of these big ugly walls that divide Marketing and Sales teams isn’t so surprising anymore.


Marketing (whether that’s an individual person, a small department or an agency) does their thing. Sales does theirs. Each has their own goals. Each has their own responsibilities. Each executes their own set of activities.

And that’s a damn shame.

Because ultimately, we’re here to accomplish the same end goal – to generate revenue for our organizations. If we pooled our brains, experiences and skills, we’d all be that much more effective.

According to a Marketing-Sales alignment study conducted by Marketo, among companies with well-aligned Sales and Marketing teams:

  • There’s a “67% higher probability that marketing-generated leads will close”
  • There’s a “108% better lead acceptance” rate among leads provided by Marketing to Sales
  • These companies see a “209% stronger contribution to revenue from marketing-generated leads”

So what does a well aligned Sales-Marketing unit look like?

From my observations, something like this:

1. High-level goals are shared

High-margin sales with the right customers will be the ultimate shared success metric for this collaborative business development unit.

That means revenue goals are a joint responsibility. Marketing not only needs to produce qualified opportunities, but they also need to support Sales in bringing them home.

2. The “Ideal customer” is defined, documented and agreed upon

Marketing and Sales need to agree about what an ideal account looks like and whose attention and trust at those organizations must be earned.

If Marketing-generated leads are unqualified, Sales will either:

  • Ignore them
  • Pursue them (but struggle to close them)
  • Or close them, despite the fact they’re not a good fit

Nothing good comes from a lack of communication about what the ideal customer looks like.

3. Messaging is consistent

If you pulled together your best Sales professionals and asked them how they would describe what your company does, for who, the problems you solve for them and what differentiates you, how consistent do you think their answers would be?

And how closely would that messaging resemble your Marketing communications – on your website, in print materials, in your advertising and elsewhere?

Well aligned teams reinforce positioning through a consistently delivered value proposition.

4. Responsibilities are clear

Generally speaking, Marketing creates visibility, captures attention through compelling messaging and generates leads. Then Sales initiates human dialogue, develops leads and closes them.

But these roles have blurred in an increasingly digital business development environment.

Well aligned Sales and Marketing teams will define responsibilities so questions like these don’t remain unanswered:

  • Who will qualify leads, and using what criteria?
  • How will newly generated inbound leads be approached? Via automated emails (or through manual emails or phone calls)? And by who?
  • What messaging will be used?
  • And what will the cadence of outreach look like?
  • Who will own lead development responsibilities for sales-qualified (but not yet sales-ready) leads?
  • What thought leadership content can support the sales process? Who will create it? Where will it live and how will it be distributed to prospects, leads and customers?
  • What KPIs will be used to measure success? And who’s responsible for reporting on each?

5. Two-way dialogue is the norm

Communication will always be key. That means defining processes for sharing insights, feedback and data about open leads and opportunities. It also means establishing a consistent time and place for this dialogue to play out. (More on this one below).

How to start tearing down the wall

So how do we get that bulldozer in motion?

I recommend one simple first step: call your first soon-to-be-monthly Sales-Marketing Alignment Meeting.

Once per month for 60 minutes, your Marketing and Sales teams will meet in the same place at the same time with the same agenda.

Whether that means physically in person or via a web conference using Zoom or GoToMeeting, these recurring meetings will serve as consistent open dialogue sessions between the two parties.

Heres’ the meeting agenda:

  1. Review and discuss open and closed opportunities (10 minutes)
    Which opportunities have closed as customers over the past month? What was the deal value (and/or expected LTV)? Which didn’t didn’t close and why? Wrong fit? Price tag? More compelling competitor offerings? Which Opportunities are still open? And what road blocks stand in the way of moving them forward?
  2. Review and discuss new leads (10 minutes)
    Among Marketing-generated leads over the past month, how closely do they match the ideal customer profile? Sometimes new leads might look fantastic to your Marketing crew, but your Sales folks may tell you otherwise. What’s happening to engage these leads in conversation? What’s hurdles are preventing conversations from happening?
  3. Prioritize and adjust (30 minutes)
    What adjustments to your lead generation and lead development strategies need to be made over the next 30 days? Which opportunities and leads should be given special attention? Which should take a back seat?
  4. Assign responsibilities and go (10 minutes)
    Specifically, what will Marketing do to help Sales over the next month? And vice versa? Who will be responsible for what? What outcomes are we going to achieve together before next month’s meeting? And what activities will have been initiated to support them?

So much good comes from simply communicating. Tear down that wall and everyone wins.