Bridging The Gap Between Marketing And Sales; Overcoming The 5 Roadblocks To Success

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7 Minutes Read

Marketing and Sales are the leading and most crucial departments of any organization. When aligned, both teams can take any business to unmatched heights. They serve as the basis of important and emergent trends - moving from lead generation towards demand generation, the shift from revenue operations towards siloed operations, offering multiple services through account-based marketing (ABM) instead of selling to a saturated community thus, making a move towards asynchronous selling as a whole.

As we all know, the marketing and sales collaboration works like a wonder but we need to bridge the gaps between marketing and sales to remove the obstacles faced by both the teams while trying to get on the same page. I have enlisted the top five challenges faced by both teams during alignment and suggested a few possible solutions as well.

Must Check >> HubSpot Marketing Hub; The Epitome of Marketing


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5 Common Obstacles When Aligning Marketing And Sales

1 - Marketing-to-Sales Handoff

The Marketing-to-Sales handoff seems quite simple but there is a great chance that things could go wrong as well. The process is when a lead becomes qualified for sales (SQL or a sales-qualified lead), the marketing department is expected to share the lead with their sales colleagues who have to move it further down the pipeline.

In generalized terms, there are mainly two ways where this handoff can go awry.
First is the qualifying criteria which refers to the “right time” when the lead is handed off from the marketing department to the sales department. So the question here is: What are your MQL and SQL criteria? 
If both of your teams have a similar answer, it means it’s great but the nightmare occurs when the teams have a conflict in their answers. 
The second area involves the mechanism. This means that your leads automatically rotate once they are qualified enough or do they have an owner before reaching any specific stage. This mechanism further involves questions like how do you assign a task to your sales rep, how do you push a notification, send them an email, notify them in Slack, or a combination of all these options. 3-Mar-19-2024-05-13-38-5446-AM
HubSpot, an Inbound Marketing Software offers tools like the Marketing Hub and the Sales Hub which are great at facilitating this process if it is well defined by your organization. In order to gain success, the whole marketing and sales handoff needs to be thought through and agreed upon by both teams. We all know a simplified task often becomes a complex one when both teams are not on the same page.

The Solution

Having a detailed meeting with your marketing operations team and sales operations teams is one of the best ways of addressing a conflicted marketing-to-sales handoff. Ask your teams about the details like what role does the deal stage, lead score, buying committee makeup, and ICP tier play in the timing and manner of the handoff as handoff can vary from team to team, product to product and ICP tier to ICP tier. 
Next, pull up some reports to determine at what lifecycle stage sales became involved in winning opportunities and identify the most successful approach.
Finally, when everyone gets on the same page, update your CRM, marketing automation platform, and other technology to accommodate these newly agreed-upon handoff guidelines.

2 - Disparate Systems

There is a huge variety of tools when it comes to marketing and sales operations. What actually happens is teams use the tools of their choice to run their individual tasks.
The problem arises when all the data is to be synchronized and the teams come up with a ton of tech software for the operations to deal with. 
Data accuracy is everything for marketing and sales activities that require a handoff at the end. The more tools are used the more it risks the quality and reliability of the data. 
A large number of systems can lead to:

  • Too much context switching and the necessary info is not being added to the correct tool.
  • System syncing issues and resulting data gaps.
  • No single source of truth for decision-making about the success or failure of your efforts.
  • Misaligned handoff and scoring criteria

The Solution

It is one of the critical problems as a company has multiple stakeholders or decision-makers we could say. This sometimes creates a conflict of opinion between the choices but yes, we can resolve this issue in a strategic way.
The best option is to move all your marketing and sales data to a single software. We can take HubSpot for instance, with the alignment of its marketing hub and sales hub it is very easy to collaborate with both your teams. It tends to provide a seamless experience for your team resulting in qualified leads. 
Another way is to conduct an audit regarding the collection, syncing and updating of the systems. This can impact things like lead scoring and lifecycle stage updates, which are important in keeping sales and marketing aligned. Keeping a check on the systems can eventually result in knowing the key points which will further assist in the betterment of decision making. 
A capability assessment of all your current systems will also prove fruitful. By doing this you can get a clear visibility of your systems and answer the major question which is whether the systems you use are working cohesively or not.

3 - Inconsistent Data

Your data suffers when you use too many tools, lack operational leadership, weak processes for using technology or a combination of any of these. You are flying blind without proper data because it impacts your decisions and eventually affects customers. 
Bad data leads to unorganized information. It means that we are not able to personalize our campaigns, put people in the wrong segmented cohorts, our handoff doesn’t work properly and we reach out to our prospects but not in the best way. 
Data is basically the driver of the revenue engine of every organization. Everyone in your revenue operations – marketing leaders and implementers, sales managers and reps, and customer success teams – needs data to drive decisions around how they interact with customers.

The Solution

Addressing the issue of disparate systems can often lead to resolving data problems. However, if that's not the case, alternative solutions should be considered.
If you're facing challenges in obtaining the necessary data for sales and marketing alignment and informed decision-making, it's possible that your data collection processes are hindering progress. Do you have the most commonly populated properties in the left-side views of the correct records, broken down into sections? If not, then note this down as something you can improve.
Additionally, exploring automation opportunities can streamline processes and maintain data integrity.

For instance, consider automation to create or move records between stages in a pipeline, ensuring the accuracy of associated data. Workflows can also be utilized to duplicate or update properties thus, reducing the need for manual data entry.
Lastly, it's important to establish regular and automatic data sharing among all your systems. This will guarantee that accurate data is available to everyone, including automated processes. Furthermore, streamlining your tech stack can contribute to data consistency.

4 - Misaligned Goals & The Battle Over MQLs

The process of capturing MQLs is pretty simple in definition; generate gated to gain MQLs and then hand them over to the sales department for conversion. Once the lead becomes an SQL, the account executive takes over and closes the deal, won or lost.  
This seems pretty fair when we talk about it but in reality, marketers are mostly asked to generate MQLs and assessed on the basis of the number of leads they get.
This means that their goal will be to get maximum content downloads. 
But, what’s the issue with that? Well, it turns out that the audience most likely to read your content is not necessarily the audience that wants to buy your product now.  

If the sales representatives’ performance is calculated on the basis of the number of MQLs they convert, the organization will be in a huge problem right now. The marketing team’s goals are out of alignment from the goals of the sales team which will, thus, impact the overall performance of the lead-generating activities.
Teams focusing on generating MQLs rather than revenue and demand will continue to struggle with alignment and will leave themselves ill-prepared to run ABM campaigns or to provide an exceptional experience for their customers.

The Solution

In this scenario, clear goals and a well-defined lead capture process is the best solution. Collecting both teams and conducting a meeting on how to carry out lead gen operations is the best way to sort this issue. 
Next, a greater understanding of your marketing team and your sales team is a plus. With their understanding of one another, both of the teams can make informed decisions that will result in the success of the teams. 
Once there is mutual understanding, the teams can begin to have conversations about important choices that can greatly impact the pipeline:

  • Should we focus on capturing MQLs or should we ungated content to drive demand?
  • Should we define an MQL differently than we currently do?
  • How can we support asynchronous buying and get prospects to SQL or sales-qualified opportunity (SQO) status before getting sales involved?

This is a much more productive line of questioning than “Why did you send me so many junk leads this month?”

5 - Running Successful ABM Plays

The final challenge of the series is the challenge of running successful ABM plays with misaligned teams. At the end of the day, you just can’t do it!
All of the problems outlined above create a hurdle preventing an organization from running successful ABM plays at scale. Most of you would be thinking why is it hard to align the goals when the marketing team and the sales team are not communicating? It’s because ABM requires that you’re not only aligned on one single MQL or SQL definition – you have to define an entire buying committee. This means even more handoffs, system, data, and goal alignment.

The Solution

If you use HubSpot for managing your lead gen process, you would also know that you have multiple HubSpot sales hub tools to use for your ABM plays:

  • Target Account property
  • ICP Tier property
  • Account Overview
  • Suggested Target Account AI tool
  • Prospects tool to see accounts who have visited your website
  • ABM and Target Account dashboards
  • Company scoring
  • Buying role properties
  • Workflow automation
  • Chatbot or live chat
  • Automated lead rotation
  • Ads conversion events

1-Mar-19-2024-05-24-11-3442-AMBelow mentioned are some steps that we can take to align for ABM:

  1. Verify that you have been collecting job titles and buying roles. If not, then manually add information or update via workflows.
  2. Create a dashboard that provides insights into the buying roles involved in recent deals and identifies who typically participates in the buying process initially.
  3. Organize a meeting between your Sales and Marketing teams, make them review this information, help them reach a point where both the teams agree upon and set the priorities.
  4. Implement the solutions suggested above in the article to ensure that your teams are aligned on goals lifecycle stage definitions, handoff protocol, and that your data is clean and your systems are running.
  5. Finally, use your Target Account and ABM tools to set up a campaign to support the alignment built between sales and marketing.

Are you facing some challenges and need help sorting them out? Team DM Flows is ready to assist you in your alignment journey. Book a free consultation call to discuss the setbacks encountered by your Marketing and Sales Teams. 

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Wrapping things up!

Sales and Marketing can perform wonders if they are properly aligned and clear about their work. Alignments can often be tricky but when executed with precision the result is always a success. It just requires a bit of learning, listening, and communication, followed by consistent action towards reaching the goals.