Fix the Rift: How to Achieve Better Alignment Between Sales and Marketing Teams

Sales and marketing share the same goal of driving business growth, so why do they continuously fail to achieve alignment? Freshworks has been examining the long-standing causes of this misalignment, which has been exacerbated by the 2020-21 pandemic. In our recent ‘Fix the Rift’ webinar, we explored the divide between sales and marketing, its impact, and how technology can help bridge this gap. 

The webinar featured guest speakers from both sides of the debate to discuss how a one-team mindset fuels revenue growth. Aaron Ross, Co-CEO of Predictable Revenue Inc, represented sales, while Freshworks’ Head of Europe & UK Marketing, Angelica Reyes, spoke up for the marketing perspective. The webinar is informed with insights from The State of Sales and Marketing Alignment in 2021’ report, the largest ever sales and marketing alignment survey of its kind. 

While we’ll cover some of the highlights of the webinar in this article, you can access the full recording of the ‘Fix the Rift’ webinar here.

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The Impact of 2020 on B2B Sales & Marketing Teams

The year 2020 changed sales and marketing permanently as a crisis response rapidly developed into “the new normal”. The pandemic didn’t cause the misalignment between sales and marketing, but it did highlight the need to address the issue. The need for alignment changed from an opportunity for improving business performance into an essential requirement. 

Our study found that in 2020, teams not highly aligned were twice as likely to experience a 20% revenue decline compared to the previous year. At the same time, 97% of decision-makers attribute the events of last year to accelerating their digital transformation. Many companies had no other choice since remote sales interactions increased by 90%, driven by customers preference for convenience and safety while working from home. 

Sales and marketing teams felt a heavy burden to pull their teams out of the economic challenge. The study found that 65% of sales teams failed to improve on 2019 revenues and only 34% exceeded their sales forecast. Likewise, marketing teams struggled with lead-generation and 60% failed to improve their lead-gen rates over the previous year.


The Importance of High Alignment

If one thing is clear from this report and accompanying webinar, it’s that the impact of misalignment in sales and marketing should not be underestimated. When the two teams work in tandem, it helps job performance, creates a unified customer experience and provides measurable results. 

According to the majority of our survey respondents, high alignment with clearly defined shared goals and KPIs makes them better at their job. The most important area of high alignment relates to goals and objectives. The webinar examines how both teams need to be on the same page when it comes to their target audience. Without clear ICPs (ideal customer profiles) and knowledge of your product or service, both teams can waste time and resources. 


How Can Leaders Begin to Fix the Rift?  

The major disconnect between marketing and sales teams tends to be around visibility. According to our study, marketing wants better visibility into lower-funnel outcomes and the sales team’s top demand from marketing is more visibility into upper-funnel activities. Sixty-four percent of businesses don’t have a shared view of the customer journey, which can be the result of using separate or overlapping systems to store and track customer data. So it seems the main focus should be on reducing fragmentation of customer information while also implementing shared systems and processes.  

Adopting a Collaborative Nurture

A 360-degree view of the customer or prospect journey is the ideal scenario for all sales and marketing teams. In the webinar, Angelica Reyes comments that both teams want to make the sales cycle shorter, but it takes a combined effort from both parties contributing to the pipeline. With leads at different stages, “nurturing is key”. She says, “It’s really important when sales are doing their follow-up that we give them the right context, but it’s also important that we get feedback from sales about messages that are resonating, and what’s working and not working.” 

Implementing a shared strategy

Both teams need to know their customers’ profiles, where the key touchpoints are and who they are interacting with. In the webinar, Aaron Ross suggests that sales and marketing “need to think like a sports team because one person can’t do it all.” This goes beyond just the sales and marketing teams and to build on the sports team analogy, the wider business- the coaching staff, the medical team, right to the kitman need to be completely clear on the vision for the team, with Angelica highlighting the importance of every department and every sub-team understanding the target audience, their key pain points and how you can make things better.

Implementing RevOps

Working with siloed technology and systems is a hindrance to collaboration and growth. Working towards RevOps (Revenue Operations) as an alignment solution ensures operations from organisation-wide departments like sales, marketing and customer service can unite under an independent operations structure. RevOps aligns and manages all systems, processes and platforms to meet a joint set of objectives by creating one method of working and a single stream of data that all teams buy into and implement.


How Can Technology & Tools Be Utilised to Achieve Alignment

Many companies struggle with knowing where their pipeline and revenue originates. A CRM is an essential component to marketing-sales alignment. You can track multiple channel interactions and use reporting tools to segment, filter and drive more targeted campaigns. 

AI and automation capabilities eliminate repetitive tasks and overlapping processes, create context and give a 360-degree view of the sales journey for both teams. Once you’ve chosen a CRM, you need to encourage adoption by making sure your workforce knows how to use all the tools.  


Discover How Freshworks Can Create a ‘One-Team’ Mindset Between Sales & Marketing

Investment in technology continues to be a predominant theme as leaders adapt to new ways of working. The ‘Fix the Rift’ moderator George Hackett, Head of UK & I Sales at Freshworks noted that this year’s largest challenge will be “understanding and predicting which new customer behaviours will be temporary and which will be permanent.” Consequently, genuine personalisation such as AI functionality for audience segmentation and look-alike modelling is becoming increasingly important. 

Learn how to align your sales and marketing teams by watching the full webinar here.

You can download our full report on the ‘The State of Sales and Marketing Alignment in 2021’ here.

Freshworks is a leading AI-powered CRM tool that can help you unify your sales and marketing teams. It enables collaboration and provides better context for lead generation and increasing conversions. Discover how it can align your sales and marketing teams:

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