Sunday, October 22, 2017

What Sales Needs from Marketing

The business case for marketing-sales alignment has never been more compelling. According to the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong alignment grow revenue at a 64% greater rate than less aligned companies. The relationship between marketing and sales is improving, but it's clear that more work is needed.

Research shows that building a productive relationship between marketing and sales is still a work-in-progress at many companies. Earlier this year, I described some of the major findings of Altify's Business Performance Benchmark Study 2017. This global survey produced 833 responses, and it included respondents from sales, marketing, operations, IT, and customer service.

At first glance, the results of the Altify survey seem fairly positive. Seventy-one percent of the marketing respondents, and 66% of the sales respondents said their sales and marketing organizations "work well together."

However, the survey also revealed the existence of several significant disconnects between sales and marketing. For example, 86% of marketing respondents agreed that "marketing in our company is an effective investment of the company's resources." Only 54% of the sales respondents agreed with that statement, a gap of 32 percentage points.

A recent study by Televerde provides additional insights on the state of sales-marketing alignment from the sales perspective. The What Does Sales Need and Want from Marketing report was based on a survey of more than 200 B2B sales executives.

In this study, 62% of the surveyed sales professionals said that sales and marketing are aligned at their company, and another 18% said the two functions are very aligned. The survey report describes these results in positive terms:  "Survey results show the gap between Sales and Marketing narrowing (finally). The state of sales and marketing alignment isn't as bleak as it was 5 years ago."

The Televerde survey also asked participants about the biggest challenges they face in aligning sales with marketing. The top four responses (from a list of ten choices) were:

  1. Lack of regular communication (37% of respondents)
  2. Differences in the way sales and marketing successes are measured (33%)
  3. The lead qualification process (30%)
  4. Differences in what's important (27%)
One particularly interesting aspect of the Televerde study is that it sought to identify what sales professionals think they need from marketing to be more successful. The survey asked participants what marketing could do to help them win more deals. The following table shows the top five choices selected by respondents:

Televerde also asked study participants what marketing tools, assets, and activities were most useful to sales. The following table shows the respondents' top six choices:

So it does appear that the relationship between sales and marketing is getting better, but the improvement is painstakingly slow in many companies. It's also clear that most companies have more work to do to turn their marketing and sales organizations into a cohesive, high-performing revenue generation team.

Top image courtesy of Tomas Sobek via Flickr CC.

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