5 tips to help marketing align with sales

September 22, 2021

In this blog, we provide 5 tips to implement in your organization to help align your marketing and sales.


Why align marketing and sales?

Due to changes in the B2B environment the need for structured collaboration and a clear division of roles between marketing and sales has become more critical. New technologies and new media are the biggest instigators of this. Today’s customers move freely across the internet and different channels. As a result, the B2B customer is increasingly better informed and makes more conscious purchasing choices with 70% of the purchase process taking place online nowadays.


1. Define what an MQL and SQL are for you

There are some best practices you can use to make sure marketing is aligned with your sales team and continue to help solve problems in each stage of the buyer’s journey. One of these practices is to create an agreed-upon definition of a sales-qualified lead (SQL).

As marketing creates lead-nurturing campaigns and leads are moving further in their buyer journey, it is crucial to know when they are ready to be transferred from a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) to your sales department as a SQL. Sales needs leads that are ready to buy, otherwise they are spending time informing instead of selling.

The best way to go about this is to analyze past leads and have both sales and marketing give their feedback. You can use the Lead Qualification Matrix from our white paper to help you out with this, click here to learn more.


2. Define your lifecycle stages

As a marketer or a salesperson, you want to make sure you speak the same language. That’s why marketing and sales should align on the definitions of the different life cycle stages of your contacts.

We use the following stages:

Each stage has different characteristics, and its value is different. In general, the further down you are, the more valuable a contact becomes.


3. Implement an SLA

Marketing and sales also need to be aligned on goals, especially revenue goals as clear revenue goals are vital for a business to work towards. So, how can you align marketing and sales? Both your marketing and sales departments need to understand how they can achieve the revenue goals of the business and how they can work together as a team. The best way to do this is to implement a service-level agreement, or SLA, between the two teams.

Both marketing and sales have responsibilities towards their leads, where marketing commits to providing an agreed upon number of leads and sales commits to getting in touch with them within an agreed upon timeframe. The SLA is an agreement between the two teams to commit to these targets and timeframes.

In our white paper The essential guide to sales and marketing alignment we discuss this topic in more detail, plus we’ll show you how to use it in practice.


4. Implement closed-loop reporting

According to HubSpot, closed-loop reporting is a method to make information and data available for both the marketing team and sales team to understand which marketing efforts translate to customers. As the name indicates, closed-loop reporting closes the loop between sales and marketing to complete the feedback loop.

To identify if your organization needs a closed-loop report, here are some questions to start with:

  • Do you never hear back about the progress your leads make that you send to sales?
  • Do you run into the problem of having duplicate leads and trying to manage them?
  • Do you send your leads to sales with only contact information but no context on the consumed content?
  • Do you struggle to identify the impact your marketing efforts have on revenue?

If your answer is yes to all of these questions, closed-loop reporting is essential for the effectiveness of your SLA. If your marketing team is delivering low-quality leads to sales, but sales never notifies marketing about this, marketing will continue to deliver low-quality leads as they will not improve their process. Therefore, implementing closed-loop reporting enables marketing and sales to improve their conversion rates over time.


5. Setup a CRM

Finally, if you want marketing and sales to be aligned, a system is needed for clear communication. In this case, a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system provides a complete, accurate record of a prospect’s entire interaction history. Sales reps will never have to manually reconstruct a timeline of touchpoints again. Not only that, but the marketing activities are also recorded.

Having this CRM system in place and keeping track of all marketing and sales activities will reduce friction between the teams and make lead handovers between different teams and sales reps much easier. Not only will all relevant information be accounted for, but it will also be recorded in a manner that makes sense across your entire company.

In order to grow your business, you need to send the relevant information at the right time to your leads and this is almost unimaginable without a CRM in place.



So, now it is your turn to align your marketing team with sales by following the tips above. Start by creating an agreed-upon definition of a sales-ready lead, define your lifecycle stages, implement an SLA, gather feedback by setting up a closed-loop report, and make sure you have the suitable systems in place to make all of this happen.

To learn more on how to align marketing and sales, download our free white paper The essential guide to sales and marketing alignment, through this link.