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How to Accelerate the Buyer’s Journey with Stronger Sales and Marketing Alignment

Carly Miller
May 1, 2024 8 MIN Blog

Cross-collaboration with sales is crucial to account-based marketing success.  

Marketing teams are often pigeonholed into developing a marketing strategy that either focuses solely on top of funnel marketing motions that fuel the sales pipeline or the number of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) they need to gain to hit their departmental goals.  

Both options lack a sense of collaboration. If marketers only qualify leads based on their marketing actions, the sales team receives leads that may not be qualified candidates for your product or offering. Yet if sales were to only focus on sales qualified leads (SQLs), there would still be an ample delay in delivering quality communication and pitches, as leads provide deeper insights into who they are and what they’re looking for through the actions they take throughout the discovery phase of the buyer’s journey—which falls under marketing’s umbrella of building brand awareness through ABM content and messaging. 

When surveyed by The Harvard Business Review, 90% of sales and marketing professionals reported misalignment across their entire organization in key areas, including’ strategy, process, culture, and content. Nearly all respondents of the same survey believed that this misalignment harms not only their business, but their customers.  

Your sales pipeline strategy can’t function under a “marketing does this and sales does that” mentality. Poor coordination between sales and marketing functions leads to sluggish sales velocity—which impacts the company’s bottom line. Businesses with strong sales and marketing alignment are  67% more effective at closing deals and 58% better at retaining customers. That’s why you need full-funnel sales and marketing alignment, including regular meetings that cover reporting on marketing campaigns; the state of alignment for campaign messaging, sales outreach, and nurture strategy; and cross-functional feedback loops to optimize marketing campaigns and sales enablement to ensure you’re meeting your goals and moving leads through the sales pipeline. Read on to learn how to align sales and marketing teams for success across the entire sales funnel in eight steps. 

Step 1: Discuss the Marketplace and Sales Pipeline 

Sales insights inform more than your content strategy—they also inform campaign pacing and timelines. Learning how campaign performance aligns with the sales cycle is key. If sales pick up because of a campaign, marketing can then replicate that campaign strategy to keep the momentum going. Of course, sales and marketing teams also need to understand buyer behavior, as there are most likely general benchmarks and standards around the product and industry where buyers are more (or less) likely to be in market (such as seasonality). 

Grounding your shared understanding of the marketplace and sales pipeline in data ensures both teams are working toward factual evidence of what buyers need to make decisions about products or services, versus what each team believes buyers want and need. Leverage multi-layer data intelligence to uncover the accounts moving in-market, the buying committee members to engage, and the content most likely to move them through the buyer’s journey. This data-led approach ensures both teams engage buyers with a better understanding of their motivations and business concerns. 

These meetings need to occur on a regular basis, and are perfect opportunities to discuss specific sales enablement pieces or new marketing collateral that will fuel campaign initiatives. Marketing and sales teams can also share what trends they notice in the marketplace and among their target audience to ensure marketing can create content that speaks to buyers’ concerns.  

Step 2: Set Clear Qualification Standards 

One of marketing’s goals is to provide sales teams with the types of leads that will convert, as opposed to simply handing off every inbound lead. Yet marketers will often hand every lead over for sales follow-up, which leads to a low volume of qualified leads. According to Gleanster Research, only 25% of marketing-generated leads are high enough quality to advance to a sale. 

As you’re developing your lead nurture strategy, make sure you understand exactly what your sales team classifies as a “hot lead.” Having a better understanding of what makes a lead worthy for sales engagement helps you design a nurture strategy that will get them there. It’s also important to revisit your shared qualification standards regularly and update them as prospects, buyer personas, and leads evolve.  

Step 3: Determine Marketing & Sales Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 

Driving sales engagement is a shared KPI between marketing and sales. Marketing materials drive brand awareness and primes prospects for sales outreach. But insights from the sales team deepen everyone’s understanding of how the sales funnel, from campaigns to buyer behaviors, impact departmental metrics. 

Your KPIs outline your goals through quantifiable measurements. When the marketing and sales team creates KPIs and both individual and shared goals across each channel, everyone has a tangible indicator toward what a successful marketing, outreach, and nurture strategy means based on the numbers. KPIs also feed into segmenting leads in terms of funnel stage and buyer group. The marketing and sales team can then deepen their understanding in how buyer behaviors and demographics impact urgency throughout the buyer’s journey. 

Step 4: Understand the Lead Scoring Model for Optimal Outreach Results 

Sales teams easily fire off emails or pick up the phone as soon as a lead comes through. But if it takes more than 13 touches to prepare a lead for a sales conversation, it doesn’t make sense for personal follow-ups for every inbound lead.  

A lead scoring model helps align your sales and marketing teams around a common understanding of a qualified lead and what the next steps are once you hand a lead off to pursue for outreach. To do this, marketing and sales need to agree on the scoring criteria, the thresholds for different lead stages, the handoff process, and the feedback mechanism. You also need to review and update your lead scoring system regularly to ensure it reflects changing market conditions and customer preferences. 

Step 5: Matchmake Leads Across the Sales Team 

Think about your offering alongside your lead’s intent and engagement, then pair them with the most qualified sales representative who can speak to the lead’s specific concerns. The better that initial sales interaction is, the more trust you establish to continue the conversation toward later funnel stages and build a positive customer experience. 

Step 6: Lean Into Creativity for Follow-Up Communication 

Inboxes are saturated with emails, and more people are avoiding phone calls from unknown numbers. Marketing teams can provide different ideas for outreach initiatives. Instead of a LinkedIn message, sales team members can send a LinkedIn voice message or video to the lead, which adds a sense of familiarity and personalization to really warm a lead up to interacting with the representative. 

Step 7: Align Messaging Within Sales Outreach 

Marketing’s brand awareness efforts make it very likely that inbound leads are familiar with your offering. When salespeople reach out, they need to not focus on introducing your solution—they need to introduce themselves and personalize the message to show they understand what the lead needs to move forward.  

Marketing motions inform your personalization efforts in terms of your content strategy and outreach messaging. Marketing should create outreach templates that match the buyer persona and outline a specific problem, while offering room for the sales team to personalize the messaging. Providing customizable messaging templates allows sales teams to create a positive experience while ensuring relevant content and messaging continues to recognize the lead’s engagement actions and funnel stage.  

Keep in mind that customization still requires guidelines. Build consistent terminology between sales and marketing by developing guidelines for one consistent company voice. Developing consistent terminology helps align your marketing content with sales outreach so that leads are not jolted by any messaging that seems too far “off the cusp.” To that end, keep buyer personas in mind to ensure that the right message truly targets and reaches the right person at the right time.  

Step 8: Gather Feedback Proactively 

The sales team gets a direct line to your prospective buyers. Dig into what sales reps are learning as they pursue the lead and the prospective meeting. The answers are crucial to continue refining and developing the right messaging for current and future campaigns. 

Questions marketers should ask the sales team about their conversations with prospects include:  

  • What are you learning from these meetings?  
  • What objections are you hearing for not taking the call when you begin outreach?  
  • What pain points are you experiencing in the follow up process?  
  • How many touches do you need before the meeting occurs?  
  • How often do people schedule a meeting and not show up? 

You can gather feedback at the same time you discuss marketplace updates and the current state of the sales pipeline. After all, building sales and marketing alignment is a constant process that doesn’t just involve data—but people, too. When both teams show consistent effort and interest in improving each other’s workflows and initiatives, customers benefit from stronger messaging and content, while the company benefits from revenue growth.  

Align to Succeed 

Good things happen when sales and marketing efforts are aligned. By working together, you create a unified strategy that optimizes every step of the buying journey for tangible business impact. 

A data-driven approach enables sales and marketing teams to work together to continuously nurture leads toward conversations across the entire funnel. Gain a better understanding of your account-based activities and performance through the centralized ML Platform, the premier solution for modern marketers to power their growth and drive higher conversions. With three sources of intent signals, four leading media channels, and ROI metrics in one holistic platform, marketing and sales teams can dive deeper into buyer behavior to accelerate the buyer’s journey by proactively optimizing campaigns and messaging based on real-time data. 

Ready to discover how to drive more success from your ABM strategy? Request a demo to find out why today’s leading marketers partner with Madison Logic to improve the effectiveness of their ABM efforts.