July 13

How to improve sales and marketing alignment

Lead Generation


When I asked members of the B2B Lead Generation Roundtable on LinkedIn how companies can improve alignment between sales and marketing, our discussion board was inundated with keen insight and brutal honesty.  Marketers and sales professionals were clearly eager to square off about why we too often miss the mark and what we can do about it.

This was precisely the frontline reality I was seeking before presenting Playbook  
for Marketing and Sales Alignment: How to Collaborate to Optimize Lead Generation Programs,” at Frost & Sullivan’s Growth, Innovation and Leadership Conference last month in San Francisco.

Checkout How to do lead management that improves conversion

Even though, as most of you know, I intensely study this issue, business transforms itself at light speed; that’s why I appreciate the thousands of professionals who make up the B2B Lead Generation Roundtable. They’re in the thick of it, dealing with the challenges, seizing the opportunities. For them, there’s no time for philosophizing; it’s all about driving revenue. That’s why the roundtable is my favorite sounding board and a powerful source of inspiration.

If you review the pages of responses – they’re a lively read, trust me – they all point to what Doug Kessler, Creative Director of Velocity Partners, UK, summed up in his statement, “This feels like the next big frontier in B2B.”

Doug nailed it: where there’s room for improvement, there’s room for opportunity and the revenues that come with it.

If the discussion is any indication, savvy marketers and sales professionals are well on their way to making the most of that opportunity: they know when they’ve gone off track, but they definitely know how to get to where they need to go. Here is a small sampling of some juicier tidbits:

If you don’t have strong leadership, you won’t stay on track. “It starts at the top,” explains Andrea Courtin, Marketing Consultant for TrusteSolutions in Houston, TX. “For sales and marketing teams to truly align, they need a mandate from the executive team.”

Don’t take offense by a change in direction.  “When I worked in business development,   I  would often laugh when we received new leads from marketing; they were often just as useful as going through a phone book,” confesses Kimberly McCabe, a UK marketing consultant for Oshyn, Inc. “What amazed me was that even though I was a senior consultant I could not arrange any discussions with marketing about what could make the leads more effectively.

“The feedback you can get from sales can have a much stronger impact. Be agile and ready to adapt to the sales team; don’t be offended if sales tell you something isn’t working. Instead, pick their brain, figure out how you can make it more effective.”

Make sure everyone is clear and in agreement about what it takes to reach your destination. For example, Tony Serino, Managing Director of Serino Channel Services, Boston, vented his frustrations about a CRM program. “I spent 90 minutes every day doing secretarial work…here’s an example of marketing assigning sales busy work and then not understanding why we disagree!”

Which prompted this response from Caroline Margozzi, Director of Sales at Northbound in San Francisco, “Before the technology can be put into effect, an agreement between departments has to be established. (They must agree) on the underlying processes: what is the hand-off process to sales? When can sales send the lead back to marketing for nurture?”

“I’ve had clients tell me if they leave two voicemail and one final email for a qualified lead and they don’t hear back, they give up!” points out Alan Feldman, a Senior Management Consultant at Winn Technology Group, Tampa. “Marketing and sales need to agree on precise criteria that determine when the handoff takes place, and stick to that.”

“It’s all about the process,” insists Uri Lederman, Director of Business Development for SaasAffiliates in Toronto. He calls for sales and marketing professionals to dig deeper. “It’s about understanding when that lead becomes a prospect…what is a lead? How is that lead nurtured? Who does the nurturing?”

Again, these are just snippets of conversations; the discussion board was on fire with ideas, insights, and questions that I encourage you to look at. They will challenge how you think about marketing and sales, no matter what side of the fence you’re on.

Once again, the B2B Lead Generation Roundtable lived up to its name by providing me invaluable real-time, real-life perspective.

Related Posts:
Lessons on Using LinkedIn for Lead Generation
How customer-hero stories help you connect better
Moving from Demand Generation to Revenue Performance Management
7 Tips to Boost Lead Nurturing Email Results Immediately
16 Proven Ways to Get Better Opportunities Now
Insights Into the World of Content Marketing
Getting sales enablement right to increase results

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing. He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. I have been the marketing director of a mid-sized accounting firm for the past three months and one of my responsibilities is new business development. I found it amazing my predecessor did not utilize a robust database with leads among key prospects-the team used Excel with only name, address and phone information. Nothing about annual revenue or prior history of contact, etc. We just purchased a license for ACT by Sage and expanded our team by one; there is no separate sales department, but the points mentioned by the Roundtable are excellent in guiding our team’s direction toward an effective lead generation and business development system.

  2. Nice post Brian!

    Marketing/Sales alignment is a topic I run into everywhere.

    What do you think about the use of teleprospecting? I know it’s a dirty word for some sales organizations but some people swear by it.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

  3. Thanks Brian for sharing the responses that you have received. These are all helpful. With regard to alignment between sales and marketing, there’s a very thin line that draws between the task of marketing and that of sales. The lead generation metrics are usually connected to the sales process, answering inquiries, doing calls, setting of meetings with the clients, collaterals and demonstration falls under sales. But just like what you’ve said, “business transforms itself at light speed.” As Kimberly McCabe mentioned ” Be agile and ready to adapt to the sales team.” Both marketing and sales should be able to lay precise norms, so that marketing would know when is it the right time – – to hand the client to sales.

  4. I see people offended all the time when a company shifts focus and direction. It is so annoying that some people get bent out of shape about little things.

  5. Great post and some interesting points on lead generation and the alignment of sales and marketing.

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