Evaluate Sales and Marketing Alignment in 8 Simple Steps

Sales and marketing misalignment can lead to a domino effect of problems such as internal tension, inability to achieve goals, and even revenue loss. Yikes.

But in order to grow and move forward, it’s crucial to assess and understand where you’re at currently with your smarketing efforts. So, how do you evaluate sales and marketing alignment? How do you know if your sales and marketing efforts are successful?

evaluate sales and marketing alignment

Here are 8 must-ask questions to understanding your company’s B2B smarketing state of the state.

Alignment Evaluation Question #1: Are Teams Speaking the Same Language?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the first areas for assessment is verbiage and definitions. Communication is key but can be extremely difficult if teams aren’t speaking the same language or starting from some place of commonality.

how to achieve sales and marketing alignment

Questions to ask:

  • Do your teams have a common definition and understanding for the following terms?
    • Marketing Qualified Lead
    • Sales Qualified Lead
    • Disqualified Leads
    • Lead Status
    • Contact Lifecycle Stages
    • Deal Stages
    • Traffic Sources (direct, referral, search, etc..)

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the sales and marketing alignment terms, but it’s a start. At a minimum, it should get you analyzing the common ground (or lack thereof) between the two teams when it comes to defining the sales and marketing process.

Alignment Evaluation Question #2: Are Teams Targeting the Same Buyers?

We have stressed time and time again the importance of buyer personas. Buyer personas (in conjunction with research) should drive your strategy and be another common denominator among your sales and marketing teams and really, the company as a whole. When evaluating your sales and marketing alignment, persona definition is critical.

Questions to ask:

  • Are buyer personas defined?
  • Did both teams have influence in their creation?
  • Are the personas still relevant or do they need to be updated?

Interested in some mind-blowing sales and marketing alignment stats? Check out this post.

Alignment Evaluation Question #3: Are Teams Working Towards the Same Goals?

Sales and marketing can be impactful independently, but joined together and working towards the same goal? Teams will achieve much more.

Nothing sets you on the fast-track to success like SMART goals.

Questions to ask:

  • Do the teams separately have SMART goals?
  • Are the goals well-known among the two teams and agreed upon?
  • Are the goals measured and tracked?

In need of a SMART goal refresh? Then this worksheet is for you.

Alignment Evaluation Question #4: Are Teams Promoting the Same Products/Services?

Not all products and services are created equal. Through defining your buyer personas or crafting your smart goals, you likely surfaced key areas of focus whether it be new product offerings, key industries, revenue generation, etc.

For example, if demos have been unsuccessful but consults are effective, marketing likely shouldn’t be pushing demos as their bottom of the funnel offer in the nurture sequences.

Questions to ask:

  • Is sales aware of the products/services that marketing is promoting and vice versa?
  • Are both teams in agreement on the best direction?
Lake One Smarketing

Alignment Evaluation Question #5: Are Teams Creating Content Together?

Although content creation doesn’t necessarily fall under the job descriptions of the sales team, sales should have an influence in content topic selection. Why? Because they are the front lines and literally the voice of the customer inside the company. Pairing sales’ insight with marketing’s keyword research skills is a great start to creating valuable content for your buyers.

Insider tip: We like to take it one step further and create what we call a content audit. It’s a living document that houses links to all of the content created and breaks it down by buyer persona and stage of the buyer’s journey. There’s also a tab for content requests that’s a direct line into marketing’s content topic queue. Here are some additional smarketing best practices to help.

Questions to ask:

  • What processes currently drive content topic selection?
  • Does sales approve?
  • Is there a way for sales to communicate content requests to marketing?
  • Does marketing have an audit document or something like it?

Alignment Evaluation Question #6: What is Marketing’s Lead Handoff Procedure?

Marketing curates leads through inbound or paid media and then at some agreed upon point, the leads need to be passed to sales to be contacted and qualified. There are a few ways to accomplish the handoff. Our favorite is using marketing automation software (like HubSpot) to do the heavy lifting. However, software aside, a step in evaluating your aligned sales and marketing alignment should be your ability to answer the questions below.

Questions to ask:

  • At what point in the process does marketing handoff a lead to sales? What triggers it?
  • How is sales notified of the lead?
  • What is the follow-up expectation from sales? (i.e. how many days do they have before they make contact, how are they contacting the lead, etc.)

Alignment Evaluation Question #7: How Does Sales Provide Feedback on Lead Quality?

In order for marketing to continue to deliver the sales team quality leads, there needs to be a feedback loop. Sales needs to communicate through lead status- the quality of the lead. This ties back all the way up to the first question about definitions.

Questions to ask:

  • How does sales communicate a rejected lead? (marketing automation software or otherwise?)
  • Does sales have a way to communicate why leads were rejected? (Poor timing, bad contact information, no budget, etc.)
  • What does marketing do with the rejected leads? Where are the leads at now?

Pro Tip: Formalize this process and set clear expectations and goals around lead quality, feedback, and lead volume by building a sales and marketing Service Level Agreement. Read about SLAs here.

Alignment Evaluation Question #8: Do Teams Have Regular Meetings?

Actually meeting in person, having conversations, and building rapport are critical to sales and marketing alignment success. It’s so much easier to work as a team when you have a strong foundation to work from.

So how do you build rapport? Meetings. But let’s be clear, quality of meetings should be prioritized over quantity. Nothing disengages teams like pointless meetings.

Questions to ask:

  • Do teams have monthly and/or quarterly meetings?
  • Do teams have a way to easily communicate outside of meetings? (Like Slack or Skype)

The trick to these meetings are to make them engaging, yet structured. Here’s an article with some great tips for doing just that.

Evaluating Sales and Marketing Alignment Key Takeaway: Communication is a Must

Do the questions above have your head spinning or wondering where to even start to begin to achieving sales and marketing harmony?

how to achieve sales and marketing alignment

Start with communication. If there is one commonality that leads to the improvement of sales and marketing alignment, it’s communication. It fuels defining the terminology, the buyer personas, content creation, and the entire smarketing process. Whether facilitated through technology or happening in regular scheduled meetings, it’s critical.

Need a little help with your sales and marketing alignment? You’re in luck because that’s our specialty. Contact us here.  

6 Key KPIs for Sales and Marketing Alignment

According to HubSpot, 39% of marketers say proving the ROI of their marketing activities is their top marketing challenge.

Statistics aside, even anecdotally, the age-old battle of sales and marketing is centered around proving the value of ROI and activity from the often separate teams. Before you can begin to prove ROI, however, you need to determine collectively, which metrics are worth tracking.

Abnormalities in data, whether spikes or declines, can point to issues, gaps, and ultimately, misalignment. Smarketing is everything but a ‘fix it and forget it’ initiative. Measuring sales and marketing alignment may differ slightly from company to company, but there are several KPIs that hold value across the board. Here are six key KPIs for sales and marketing alignment we recommend keeping an eye on.

KPIs for Sales and Marketing Alignment

Still need to fine tune your Sales and Marketing Alignment plan? Download our Ultimate Guide to learn more.

1. Overall Revenue

Every company’s end game is to make money, therefore, everyone should be working towards the common goal of generating revenue. At Action19, we heard Josh Fedie say sales is everyone’s job. And he’s right. Revenue and sales are everybody’s job and everybody’s business quite literally.

For smarketing purposes, the overall revenue metric can be broken down a little further into marketing-sourced revenue. For example, how many leads that came in from paid social became customers? How much revenue did the customer from paid social generate? You can follow a similar deep dive across traffic sources and evaluate each channel.

2. Sales Cycle Length

Tenfold names the sales cycle length as one of the most important KPIs for sales and marketing alignment to track. Here’s the reason they said it makes their list. “The total length of the sales cycle has important consequences that ripple throughout the entire organization and shortening the buying cycle is usually particularly important to the sales and marketing teams in order to minimize bottlenecks in the process.”

In theory, the shorter the sales cycle, the more qualified the lead. Tenfold goes on to say that the tracking shouldn’t stop at just the length of the cycle overall; you should look at each stage individually to determine lags and gaps in the process.

3. Marketing Qualified Leads

HubSpot defines a marketing qualified lead (MQL) as a lead who has been deemed more likely to become a customer compared to other leads. Why? They have taken a specific set of actions and or they fit the lead criteria, like role or ideal company size. The criteria qualifying MQLs are set by both sales and marketing and are part of the foundation of the SLA. Tracking MQLs as one of your main KPIs can help you determine if your team is moving in the right direction with generating quality leads.

4. Marketing Qualified Leads to Sales Qualified Leads Conversion Rate

This conversion rate speaks to the building blocks of the sales and marketing SLA, the point in which sales evaluates leads that marketing deems qualified.

KPIs for Sales and Marketing Alignment

How leads are actually handed off to sales (typically by using software to automate the process) varies from business to business, but the value in the conversion rate does not. What is the percentage? How many MQLs are considered quality (an SQL) by sales?

This also points to why it’s critical both sales and marketing buy into the plan. If this number is low, there’s definitely a problem. Regrouping and going back to the basics can help troubleshoot and realign. 

5. Content Audit & Usage

Another key KPI to track for sales and marketing alignment is your content. How spot on is it? Does it align with target buyers? Is it attracting the right personas? All of these questions can be answered by digging deep into the data and probing to answer the following key questions about content consumption.

  • Which content offers are being downloaded? Which ones aren’t?
  • Are your target buyers downloading your offers or is your offer attracting a secondary or tertiary role?
  • Out of all of your customers, how many actually downloaded a content offer?

In taking a look at the above you’ll be able to determine if your content is in alignment with sales and marketing and benefiting your overall goals. If it’s not? You might need to consider refreshing your personas or brushing up on some keyword research. Here is a refresher on inbound marketing.

6. End to End Conversion Rate

The end to end conversion rate measures the conversion ratio for the full buyer’s journey from attraction phrase through to closing customers. According to Forbes, “Benchmarked over time this metric highlights leakages and inefficiencies between stages, sales and marketing, and enables more accurate forecasting and target performance setting.”

The more aligned an organization, the more stable the rates and rations. See a spike or dip in the data? Better start digging.

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The Sales & Marketing Alignment Meeting

Now that you have your critical KPIs to measure smarketing performance, share and circulate the data amongst the team. Do this quarterly at a minimum. Share the findings, deep dive, optimize, rinse and repeat.

Why Sales and Marketing SLAs Work to Drive Business Growth

Sales and marketing SLAs are essentially a contract between the two teams on how leads will be managed through the entire sales funnel. According to the HubSpot State of Inbound 2018, 65% of marketers whose companies have a sales & marketing SLA see a higher return on investment from their inbound marketing efforts. However, only 26% of respondents actually operate under an SLA. 

Those that have an SLA are also more likely to have a need to grow their sales team to keep up with demand, and they typically have growing inbound budgets. If you think your company is headed for sales growth, a sales and marketing SLA should be in your future. Here’s why SLAs are a must.

Why Sales & Marketing SLAs Are a Must

SLAs Define Alignment

Sales and marketing teams perspectives tend to be different because they collect and digest information differently. These differences can lead to disagreements, disconnection, or simple misunderstandings. SLAs are a must-have because they alleviate these issues by establishing a baseline for your teams’ language through shared definitions, like the following.

We’re about to talk about Lead Scoring! Download this guide and follow along.

  • Customer personas – Sales may not have even utilized personas before this process. We guarantee, though, they’d be able to explain the details of the customers they prefer to speak with. Have marketing and sales use a combination of data and direct feedback to create a more clear picture than ever of your ideal customers.
  • Funnel & customer journeys – Chances are, both of your teams are using some kind of a funnel.  They are probably focused on very different stages and outcomes, though. Combine everything into a single funnel with lead stages assigned appropriately.
  • Lead/MQL/SQL – What’s the difference between a lead, an MQL, and an SQL? What are the criteria for defining each? Setting up lead scorning criteria together can help collaboratively define the terms.
  • Handoff point – One of the most important pieces of the alignment puzzle is the lead handoff. This is a defined point in the customer journey when marketing has done their part and it is time for sales to take over. Lead scoring can help here by setting the trigger point for the handoff, but no matter how you do it, make sure everyone understands and agrees on when.

SLAs Set Goals

Misaligned sales and marketing teams are typically hard-working and dedicated; they are just working hard toward very different goals. A lack of visibility into the other team’s focus and goals can actually lead to conflicting efforts, i.e. – Marketing is testing a price increase, but Sales is pushing for discounts. Having an SLA in place will calibrate your expectations on goals between teams. 

Establishing shared goals will allow your teams to start working in the same direction. Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your goals.

  • Numerical/revenue goals – It’s fine to have a couple of soft goals, but most of your goals should be hard numbers tied to revenue and easily trackable. [Click here for a SMART Goals Template.]
  • Time-driven goals – When would you like to accomplish your goals? Aim for both short and long-term goals. Then, establish a rhythm of when progress will be reviewed, and be open to the idea that goals may need to be adjusted as everything is established.

Sales and marketing SLAs

SLAs Build Transparency and Accountability

One of the biggest reasons you need a sales and marketing SLA is its ability to address misunderstandings on team functions and contributions perpetuated by the absence of transparency. Laying out goals and roles in a shared SLA allows everyone to know who is responsible for what.”Marketing does X, then Sales does Y.” Having an SLA in place eliminates the, “I didn’t know”s and the, “I thought that was his job”s.

Want to know what a functional SLA looks like? Check out ours.

Additionally, an SLA provides structure around how each person and team will contribute directly to the goals.  Built into your sales and marketing SLA will be predetermined ways to measure this success or failure. Support these definitions with clear tracking metrics and reporting systems accessible to everybody involved.

This allows everyone to understand exactly how they contribute to their own personal goals, and how those goals contribute to the overall efforts of the alignment. It also allows them to see how others contribute and compare their own efforts to those of others on their team.

This level of understanding, transparency, and acceptance of responsibility allows you to have buy-in and accountability from every angle.

SLAs Encourage Commitment

People tend to feel more connected to something they help create. The individual contributors on your teams should be included in the process of creating the SLA and everything that goes into it. Including them will establish buy-in from the very beginning. These individuals also have the most accurate information to bring to the table because they are the ones doing the work day-to-day. You can combine all of their experiences and feedback to create the most accurate agreement.

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Furthermore, each individual and team is more likely to adhere to their specific accountabilities and goals because they are publically set and agreed upon by everybody. People are, in general, less likely to stray from their responsibilities when everybody will know if they fail. Essentially, peer pressure will work in your favor when it comes to SLAs. 

Lead Scoring 2.0- A Deeper Dive

Lead scoring is a great way to use real data to understand what kind of lead is going to be the most likely to turn into a sale or customer for your products or solutions (click here to go back to the basics). Is this person potentially a good fit for your product or solution based on their similarities or differences to your current customers? Are they a decision maker? Do they have a need or interest in your product or solution? Have they viewed a webinar, spent some time on your pricing page, started a free trial?

Lead scoring helps you understand and compile all of this information and presents you with a score for any given lead. You decide which demographics (age, location, role) and possible actions (visited landing page, viewed webinar, requested demo) are most important and you give them a positive points value, there can also be negative points for things that make a person less likely to purchase. The score can and will change as the lead continues to take different actions. So, what kinds of things can you do with a lead scoring system? Follow along.

Lead Scoring Deep Dive

Take a deep dive into your data

You’ve used a CRM system for a couple of years now but have never done anything with all of the records, do you know you are actually sitting on a gold mine worth of data points?

Want more info on lead scoring? Download Lake One’s guide!

Maybe you haven’t gotten around to diving into all of that data quite yet, but now is the time because you could be missing out on great leads while your salespeople spin the wheels on long-shot, cold leads. Here are a few things we recommend taking a look at as part of your deep dive:

  • Look at your leads that ended up in purchases and what kind of journey they took to get to that point. Do you see any trends in their visits? The number of times they came back before speaking with a salesperson? How many times they were contacted before a connection was made?
  • Get a handle on all of the forms on your site and decide which are most important to the customer journey. Rank your website pages specifically for lead scoring; perhaps your demo and pricing pages are quite high values with case studies, features, and customer reviews falling in next.
  • Check out the purchasing contacts and see if there are trends in their demographics. Are they all C-level executives? You can even take a closer look to see if the demographics of these contacts match those of your current ideal customer personas.
  • Consider the account level demographics: industry, company size/employee count, total revenue. You can provide both account and contact level scores for each lead.

As you understand more and more which specific data points make a purchase more likely, you can start to rank and assign them points by order of importance or relevance. Lead scoring isn’t a perfect science and you should be open to changing things both as you get it set up initially and as your company, products, and customers evolve. It’s not something you should set and leave forever.

Lead Scoring Deep Dive

Define lead “buckets” and assign next steps

There are many different types of leads and stages in a customer journey. Lead buckets are filled around the defining points in that journey. Lead buckets make it easy to understand which leads are high, medium, or low priority, as well as who should own next steps with the lead. This can allow you to target users with content or action relevant to their current position along the buying process, which according to Aberdeen Market Intelligence yields 72% higher conversion rates.

You can have a couple of buckets for marketing nurtured leads, one for marketing qualified ready to be passed over to sales, a couple for the different urgency levels for sales, and another bucket for those that were sent to sales and then rejected or lost. This entire process can really be as simple or complex as you want including as many or few buckets as necessary for your unique customer journey.

Build the relationship between your sales and marketing teams

It’s no secret that when sales and marketing teams are aligned and work well together, everyone is happier and the results go up. Involving both teams in the lead scoring process can bring them closer together. Allow them to figure out which data points are important and work together to define and score both MQLs and a SQLs. [This process is called creating an SLA. Read about it, here.]

Understanding these important parts within the funnel first-hand will allow for clearer handoff points and better cross-team responsibility understanding. This cooperative approach provides a single source of truth so there won’t be any finger pointing or blame, the numbers will tell an accurate story of lead quality and customer journeys.

4. Bonus points

There are countless creative ways to utilize lead scoring to better understand and serve your prospects and customers.

Lead score for specific products or solutions

If you have a wide range of offerings, serve multiple industries, or have widely varying price points, you can use lead scoring to define which types of leads would be the best fit for specific products or solutions.

A/B Testing

If you have a lot of data points, it can be difficult to know which ones have more of an effect over others. You can run different iterations of your lead scoring program. Keep all but one or two points the same so you can see which results in more closed leads to create more accurate scoring moving forward. There is no limit to how many times you can do this, so it should be something you do fairly often on an ongoing basis.

Lead Scoring Guide

Use scoring for your existing customers

One buying journey ending in a purchase is just the beginning of your customer’s overall experience with your company and product/s. Your current customers most likely don’t immediately purchase everything you have to offer meaning there may be opportunities to expand their portfolio. Lead scoring for account managers can help raise renewal rates and increase sales of additional products or solutions.

6 Lead Follow Up Strategies

Your marketing campaigns are hugely successful, you’re gathering and utilizing tons of valuable data, and pulling in dozens of qualified leads per week. Now what? Someone needs to follow up with all of those leads. Believe it or not, there is just as much science and finesse to the follow up as the marketing itself. Here are a few suggestions to allow your lead follow up to be as successful as your marketing campaigns.

Understand the Difference Between Hot, Warm, and Cold Leads

Not every lead is created equal. Just like each customer is unique, so is each lead that comes in from a prospective customer. Even though you’ll notice trends and may start to feel like you’re having the same conversations over and over again, each situation will have slight variations. An important aspect of telling the difference between leads will be understanding which are hot, warm, and cold.

Looking to increase the quantity  and quality of your leads? Read up on Lead Scoring.

Hot lead – Someone who fits the profile of some of your best current customers, has the means to make a purchase, and is ready to do so now or in the very near future.

Warm lead – A prospect who shares some similarities with your ideal customer and has demonstrated interest in your product or solution. These leads may not be quite ready to make a purchase because of timing, budget, or some other factor, but they’re good ones to keep in touch with because your product or solution can actually help them.

Cold lead – This category can include everything from complete spam to someone that is legitimately confused about what your product or service is and doesn’t understand that it won’t solve their issue.

Once you’ve started to identify some trends, it may be a good idea to take a look at some real data and set up a lead scoring system. This is where you deep dive into the details of what specific factors indicate a lead is really ready to buy. Is it that they visited your pricing page or spent 20 minutes on your features site, requested a demo, signed away the rights to their first-born child? OK, probably not that last one. But a good data analyst will be able to find correlations in the data that will help you to set up a scoring system to organize and prioritize which leads to reach out to more urgently. Read about the basics of Lead Scoring, here.

Consider Following Timing and Strategy

Timing is everything when it comes to lead follow up. Research suggests that calling a lead within 5-10 minutes gives you the best shot at connecting with them. Most likely, if a lead really is hot, they’ll be looking to confirm some information or ask a couple of questions. Having the ability to do that within a couple of minutes of providing their information, while it’s top of mind, can help them make their final purchasing decision more quickly.

lead follow up strategies

It’s understandable that it may not be possible to call every single lead that comes in within 5-10 minutes, especially if the leads come in at times when there is no sales coverage like overnight or on the weekends. This is where a little automation could play an important role (see the next section).

The next step after the initial touch will be a strategy for how many times to reach out total and the timing of those attempts. This may take some experimentation and testing to find what works best for your prospective customers. You’ll want to aim for a balance of being persistent and regular enough to get noticed, but not being overbearing or annoying.

Automation vs. Personalization

If you are part of a small company just getting started, you may be able to respond to every lead that comes in. If you have the capacity to do so, you absolutely should. In the beginning, even some of the leads that turn out to be a dead end are going to be educational. They’ll allow you to tweak your messaging and content to make your offerings and solutions more clear from the start.

As you grow, or if you are a part of a company that brings in several leads per day, you may have to use some automation in order to respond in a timely fashion to everyone. You can also use that first response as somewhat of a vetting process. Use tracking software to see who opens the message, who clicks on links within the message, and of course, who replies.

Are your marketing and sales teams working together to automate the sales process? Here are some best practices you should be including.

The idea here is to find harmony between the two. If you automate too heavily, chances are you will come across as too canned and as though you don’t actually value your prospective customers enough to give them personal attention. If you personalize too much and spend too much time on each lead, you may lose other leads because you take too long to respond or simply never get to them.

To get started, create a couple of different email templates for the different responses that you find yourself creating often. Personalize each one before you actually send it. You can even utilize software that will pull in a contact’s name, but you should ALWAYS double check that it is correct. Misspelling someone’s name, or worse, calling them [CONTACTNAME] will most likely lose that lead.

Be Creative with Your Lead Follow Up

The truth is we are all in a state of constant information overload with our devices attached to our hips and wrists. Everything we do seems that it requires our email address, and our inboxes have thousands of ignored, unread messages.

lead follow up strategies

In order to be noticed amongst those thousands of messages, you need to figure out how to stand out from all of that noise. One way to add some creativity to your responses is to vary your methods of response.

According to Mobile Marketing Watch, 98% of all text messages are opened compared to 22% of emails. If a phone number is something you receive from a lead, shoot them a well-thought-out text with a simple call-to-action. Some forward-thinking sales and marketing people are also jumping in on the popularity of video and using video introductions to a specific salesperson in their lead follow up.

Offer Value to Your Leads

The most creative, eye-catching headlines, content, and graphics will turn some eyes your way. To keep them, you need to actually offer something valuable once you have that attention. There is no faster way to get someone to never look at your messages again than to send nonsense that was designed just to get a click. [Here are some examples of things you don’t want to do in your follow up process.]

Of all of the recommendations, this is probably the most important. If you aren’t offering immediate value, there will be no reason for a person to continue reading and especially not a reason to consider responding to you.

It’s Not Over After the First Conversation

You’ve had a great conversation, you told your prospective customer all of the ways your products can solve all of their problems and make their lives 10,000% easier. Excellent. That’s one of the hardest battles to make it through. However, you aren’t done there. Your job as a salesperson isn’t done until that person becomes a customer or decides they don’t want what you are offering.

Lead Scoring Guide

Every single time you communicate with a prospect, there should be some kind of request for them to take a next step or Call-to-Action (CTA). You want the CTA to be something that will ultimately be beneficial to the prospect. Ideally, it’s best if you can ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no response to get them thinking and allow you to learn more information.

Lead Scoring Basics

What is Lead Scoring

Not all leads are created equal and for that very reason, we queue lead scoring. Lead scoring is ranking lead readiness to convert based on the lead’s behavior. The idea behind lead scoring is that certain activities speak to a lead’s readiness to be contacted by sales. A user who is highly engaged on the site, downloading multiple offers visiting key pages (like pricing), and signing up for the blog, etc. is (in theory) more ready to purchase than a user who visited one or two pages on the site a couple of times. Lead scoring allows a sales and marketing team to work together to develop criteria identifying leads likely to make a purchase so they can be followed up with by Sales.

Lead Scoring Basics

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10 Quota Crushing Sales and Marketing Alignment Statistics

“The leads from marketing are junk,” says sales. “Sales can’t close to save their life,” says marketing. On and on it goes as the two teams responsible for driving growth bicker. If only sales and marketing were in alignment.  It’s possible. More and more organizations are putting in the time to align their revenue teams – and it’s worthwhile. We’ve compiled ten statistics that show why sales and marketing alignment is important. More than just a nice to have, it’s a must-have for consistent quota crushing teams that move the top line.

sales and marketing alignment statistics

1) 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales; however, only 27% of those leads will actually be qualified. (Source: Marketing Sherpa)

2) 63% of teams without alignment report an inability to calculate marketing ROI (Source: Hubspot 2018 State of Inbound)

Are you sales and marketing teams aligned? Click here to take the assessment.


3) 58% of aligned teams say sales and marketing alignment improves customer retention. (Source: LinkedIn)

4) 78% measure alignment through revenue growth. (Source: LinkedIn)

Sales and marketing alignment Statistics

5) Companies with Sales & Marketing alignment are 67% better at closing deals and drive 209% more revenue. (Source: Marketo)

6) B2B organization’s with tightly aligned sales achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth. (Source: Wheelhouse Advisor)

7) Decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts due to misalignment costs $1 trillion a year. (Source: Hubspot)

8) Highly aligned organization’s average 32% YoY growth while their less aligned counterparts see a 7% decrease. (Source: Aberdeen Group)

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9) Only 1 in 2 companies say marketing and sales have a formal definition of a qualified lead. (Source: Marketing Charts)

10) Misaligned sales and marketing can cost companies 10% of revenue every year. (Source: Kapost)

Sales & Marketing Alignment (Smarketing) Best Practices

First things first, if you haven’t already checked out our article on WHY you need sales & marketing alignment, which we will refer to as smarketing (like our friends from HubSpot) from here forward, give that a read first.

Next, we’ll get right down to it and help you get started with your strategy by outlining a few smarketing best practices.

smarketing best practices

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Why You Need Sales & Marketing Alignment

Sales and marketing alignment is more important for your business than ever. Misalignment can create internal tension between your sales and marketing personnel, and at its worst, can be extremely costly in both wasted time and lost potential revenue. One of the most common things you’ll hear when sales and marketing are not properly aligned are sales reps complaining about the quality of sales-ready leads coming in from marketing, while marketing accuses sales of a lack of follow up with the leads presented. Meanwhile, your company is bleeding money and resources as more and more prospective sales slip through the cracks. If this isn’t enough justification, we’ll walk you through a few additional reasons you need to align your sales and marketing efforts right away.

Why You Need Sales & Marketing Alignment

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How Lake One Builds SLAs that Spur Sales & Marketing Alignment

Have you ever noticed that despite being separate departments, sales and marketing is called, sales AND marketing? (not Sales OR Marketing). The two go hand in hand, or at least they should. But that’s not always the case however, alignment can only be achieved through detailed continuation and effort to ensure everyone is on the same page. 

In order to help achieve harmony among client-facing teams, Lake One implements a Service Level Agreement (SLA). By Definition, the SLA is an agreement between our client’s sales team and Lake One marketing on the lead management and lead qualification process. It helps drive sales and marketing alignment. Read on to learn about how to build an SLA using these 7 key components.

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Goals & Objectives

We are a big fan of goals (and you should be too), so it’s no surprise that the first step in building our SLA kicks off by stating the goals and objectives of the SLA.

The purpose of our SLA is to ensure that the proper elements and commitments are in place to facilitate a flow and acceptance of marketing qualified leads to sales.

The goal of our Agreement is to obtain mutual agreement for the lead qualification criteria and lead handling between the Marketing department and the Sales department.

The objectives of this Agreement are to:

  • Provide clear reference to lead ownership, accountability, roles, and/or responsibilities.
  • Present a clear, concise, and measurable description of lead qualification, acceptance, disqualification, and nurture.
  • Match perceptions of expected lead quality with actual lead quality and delivery.

Clearly Defined Roles

A plan and an agreement are a great place to start, but if you don’t know who’s on first, it can leave you scrambling when it comes time to actually execute. Roles and responsibilities are broken down into two groups:


  • Generate leads
  • Score & qualify leads
  • Nurture leads & contacts
  • Handoff qualified leads to sales


  • Accepts/rejects MQLs
  • Actively manages lifecycle stages/opportunities and lead statuses
  • Wins Deals

The final component in building SLA roles is assigning key stakeholders to oversee the process and teams: one person from sales, one person from marketing. The above is a complete and total team effort, but listing out key stakeholders gives the team a point of contact and holds parties accountable.

Curious about what else Lake One has to offer? Read this post to learn more about what makes us tick.

Sales and Marketing Alignment SLA

Lead Qualification Strategy

If the leads marketing is generating don’t match the expectations of the sales team, it won’t benefit anyone. In fact, this is how inbound strategies fail. In order for marketing to be generating leads that the sales team will get excited about, everyone needs to be on the same page of what a qualified lead actually is.

So in order to start nailing down lead qualification, we ask questions such as:

  • What engagements signal leads are ready to talk to sales? (think completed forms, user actions, etc.)
  • What requirements do all leads need to meet based on your ideal buyer profile? (industry, organization size, role/title, etc…)

From there, we actually build what we call a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) List. The list serves a dual purpose and plays a major part in the process in finalizing what will constitute a lead as well as how you’ll track them going forward. Once the list is created, we can also take a look at historical data – like how many MQLs are there to date – and set benchmarks off of the new definition for goal setting.


What will the SLA accomplish? This is best stated in SMART goal format. In case you need a little refresher, see below.

Specific: For the SLA, goals will likely fall into three buckets – marketing lead volume, lead flow, and a lead management/sales process goal. We always recommend hitting all three as they cover the major components of the Agreement.

Measurable: Here’s an area where the MQL List becomes very important. It’s a clear way to track how many MQLs marketing is able to deliver and when.

Attainable: Be realistic with expectations, but don’t sell yourself short either. The beauty of the SLA is that both Sales and Marketing will be on the same page on what is achievable.

Relevant: Relevance is a great gut check in making sure your SLA goals align with the client’s company goals.

Get help with your SMART Goals. Download the free worksheet!


We use industry jargon and marketing terminology so often that it is important to define key terms so everyone is using them the same way. We focus our definitions on two main categories: lead status and lifecycle stages.

According to HubSpot, lifecycle stage indicates where a contact or company is in your marketing/sales funnel (subscriber, lead, MQL, etc…). Lead status indicates where a contact or company is within a buying cycle as a lead (New, Unqualified, Open Deal, etc…).

how to build and sla

Lead Rejection

Just because a lead checks off the boxes and becomes an MQL, doesn’t mean that the lead will convert to a customer. An integral part of the living breathing document that is an SLA, is lead rejection. Just as Marketing sends the MQLs, sales, in turn, communicates back through Lead Status and Lifecylce stage, or for the leads that aren’t so hot, lead rejection.

In our process, lead rejection is defined and agreed upon by both parties and typically results in a form field selection in the CRM.

Sign on the Dotted Line

The final and most critical stage in our process is a signature. It’s not necessarily a signature in the actual sense, but more of what it represents: an agreement of both parties on all of the above! Alignment is impossible without it. 

We do have to add that once you have an SLA in place, it should be reviewed, tracked, and measured against, evolving as needed with the growth of the company. And not to mention, the SLA is a component of achieving sales and marketing alignment, but not the only component. Are you ready to discuss how Lake One could help enable your sales teams and help you achieve sales and marketing alignment? Contact us