This article is part of our exclusive series "The B2B Tech Marketers Handbook for 2021".

The relationship between sales and marketing experts has always been close. But since the outbreak of the global pandemic, and the subsequent shift to working from home, customer expectations have shifted. Now, people want a more personal, supportive buyer experience, and as a result, the way sales and marketers interact with prospects and nurture leads along the buyer journey must be reconsidered.

According to HubSpot, companies that keep their marketing and sales teams perfectly aligned tend to have an average growth of 20%. But to do this successfully, businesses need to create a single customer journey and understand their customer persona.

It’s more important than ever for sales and marketing to be in alignment, working in unison, and towards the same goal.

When marketing and sales are aligned...

Marketing knows

  • Which leads it can nurture
  • Which leads to nurture
  • How to segment
  • Which leads to pass over to sales
  • Which leads will convert
  • Which content performs best

And Sales know

  • Which leads are important opportunities to follow up
  • The history of each lead
  • That cold leads will be nurtured

Failure to align sales and marketing teams is leading to wasted budget and resources as up to 60-70% of B2B content is not being used, and close to 75% of marketing leads never convert into a sale.

So, what can sales and marketing leaders do to overcome these challenges?

Integrate systems

Data is at the heart of B2B sales and marketing alignment.

Many of the potential problems with sales and marketing alignment can be overcome so long as the systems and tools in place are being used correctly, and there is a clear understanding of how your teams are creating and using data.

The incorrect use of Marketing Automation or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are huge barriers to successful B2B sales and marketing alignment. If these systems are misused, it can lead to issues with data quality and compatibility – which can be difficult to put right.

Our tip

If you’re auditing your current CRM tool, here are some key elements to look out for:

  1. Adherence to sales and marketing data guidelines, if any
  2. Correct use of individual data fields (e.g. lifecyle)
  3. Consistent population of mandatory fields
  4. Correct use of data objects (opportunities, for example)

Following this, it’s important to synchronise all your contact data, accounts and opportunities. This might seem tricky, but it’s essential to bridging that gap between marketing and sales.

Speak a common language

Communication is key. But the endless terms, abbreviations and acronyms used within sales and marketing is enough to confuse even the most proficient of leaders. Ensuring both teams are aligned, not only in their goal but in their language, is an often overlooked but nonetheless integral part of successful collaboration.

Here’s some of the most common terms from Hubspot’s Smarketing Glossary:

Lead Qualification

The process of determining whether a potential buyer has certain characteristics that qualify him or her as a lead. These characteristics could be budget, authority, timeline, and so on.

Lifetime Value (LTV)

A prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer. To calculate LTV, follow these steps for a given time period:

  • Take the revenue the customer paid you in that time period
  • Subtract from that number the gross margin
  • Divide by the estimated churn rate (aka cancellation rate) for that customer

Qualified Lead

A contact that opted in to receive communication from your company, became educated about your product or service, and is interested in learning more. Marketing and Sales often have two different versions of qualified leads (MQLs for Marketing, and SQLs for Sales), so be sure to have conversations with your sales team to set expectations for the types of leads you plan to hand over.

Ensuring marketing and sales teams are aligned with the same goal in mind is crucial to success in today’s B2B landscape.

Ensure repeatable sales processes

As with most things, sales and marketing perform best when they follow repeatable, measurable processes. A repeatable sales process defines how and when leads will be picked up from marketing, as well as the opportunity stages that will be used to track their progress. This will give your aligned teams the best foundation for measurement, collaboration and continuous improvement.

B2B leaders know that sales engagements will inevitably vary in their length and course, but having a strong foundation of steps and stages for them to work off will ensure that critical actions are never overlooked.

Our tip

Implement your sales process within the opportunity stages of your CRM to ensure that you can correctly move contacts to opportunity and customer lifecycle stages when the time comes. This will ensure transparency for the marketing department, who will also have access to the pipeline.

One of the major complaints cited by marketers in misaligned teams is that sales don’t follow up marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) appropriately. So, by establishing a repeatable sales process you can remove such concerns, and feel confident that every MQL is handled effectively.

Measure KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a great way of measuring sales and marketing – as long as they don’t conflict with the shared objective of your aligned teams.

Review (or set) KPIs, both in terms of the metric used and the targets set, to ensure they don’t become counterproductive once your teams are aligned. For instance, setting an MQL target for marketing without considering the impact on sales could be problematic. A very high MQL target might result in marketing upping lead scores and passing more less-qualified leads to sales. This might mean that marketing reaches its target while the sales conversion rate goes down.

The best way to set KPI targets is to review current conversion rates across the whole funnel and work backwards calculating the following:

  1. How many new customers do you need to reach revenue goals?
  2. How many MQLs or SQLs do you need to close that number of sales?
  3. How many leads do you need to generate to produce that number of MQLs?
  4. How much website traffic do you need to create that many MQLs?

The future for sales & marketing

It goes without saying that changing buyer behaviour has led to a shift in the effectiveness of sales and marketing at different stages of the buyer journey. Now, ensuring marketing and sales teams are aligned with the same goal in mind is crucial to success in today’s B2B landscape.

Going forward, we’ll certainly see an increase of collaboration and communication between Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Heads of Sales. A failure to instill the value and importance of cross-team collaboration could see a significant impact on company performance, and as a result, customers may be disappointed which will inevitably result in a loss in revenue.

If you want 360-degree visibility across your organisation, now is the time to revisit your B2B sales and marketing alignment and, where possible, improve processes and the opportunities for cross-team collaboration.

Before you go


If you want to broaden your audience and connect with unreachable target accounts for 2021, get in touch with our team today to find out more about our diverse and comprehensive B2B marketing approach that aims in helping you form new and relevant business connections.


The B2B Tech Marketers Handbook for 2021

We know that effective business-to-business (B2B) marketing is difficult to get right. Juggling sales hungry teams, creative demands, budget restrictions, and channel decisions can make developing an impactful marketing strategy a challenge – especially in the wake of last year.

Priorities and processes may have shifted, but one thing remains a constant: The biggest determinant of effective marketing is your audience.

That’s why we’ve created this series. To guide all you senior B2B marketers back onto the path towards your greatest asset.

That’s not to say you don’t already know this. We just know how easy it is to get sidetracked, to focus on, say, optimising your social channels without first establishing the personas you’re aiming to target.

Every two weeks we’ll release a new Chapter to our Senior Marketer’s Handbook tackling another hot topic on every B2B marketers’ agenda this year.

So, view this guide as a helpful friend. Or a little nudge in the right direction.

Whatever your marketing goals are for 2021, this exclusive B2B marketing handbook is the place to start.

Browse the series:


Utilising data for market research


Sales & marketing alignment


Coming soon


Coming soon