HomeBlog Four Critical Areas of Marketing and Sales Operations Alignment

Four Critical Areas of Marketing and Sales Operations Alignment

December 02, 2014 | By Marcia Trask

What actions can a b-to-b organization take for better cooperation and alignment between sales and marketing teams? Find out our findings and advice.

Marketing operations and sales operations are two important – but distinct – functions that impact organizational efficiency and performance. Each function approaches shared issues with different priorities and points of view. Therefore, there are areas where both teams are likely to need some alignment work. SiriusDecisions conducted an alignment and efficiency survey of marketing and sales operations leaders and found that 58 percent of respondents rated their sales and marketing operations alignment as “poor.”

AlignmentIf your organization falls into that group, don’t despair. While there is no quick fix to solve all alignment challenges, there are some actions that both operations teams can take to improve matters for the long term. The four critical areas of marketing and sales operational alignment are planning, lead management, data management and measurement. Let’s examine each problem area and some of the steps that organizations can take to drive better interlock.

  • Planning. Marketing and sales operations are not helping their organizations develop aligned plans to drive joint performance. Planning is done in functional silos, and each function lacks clarity into the other’s priorities. Only 14 percent of survey respondents reported that their organizations have integrated sales and marketing planning processes. However, it is critical to intertwine marketing and sales planning processes in order to ensure appropriate alignment. Steps for improvement include assessing shared sales and marketing goals and objectives (e.g. revenue targets, budgets, assumptions), and aligning on strategy (e.g. go-to-market plans and responsibilities, resources and investments) and planning development (e.g. shared inputs, cross-functional communication, defined planning interlock points, impact measurement).
  • Lead management. Lead coordination and nurturing are critical to effective sales and marketing alignment. This is a joint responsibility that must be managed by having mutually agreed-upon and enforced service-level agreements (SLAs). Unfortunately, only 43 percent of survey respondents have lead response SLAs in place, and most are not being governed; only 11 percent of survey respondents reported having jointly managed SLAs. Steps to improve lead management alignment include assessing the lead management process (e.g. conducting gap analysis, determining joint expectations and responsibilities, lead routing exceptions, and assessing current tools and technology), aligning on lead response SLAs (e.g. ownership, commitments, routing and targets), and implementing SLAs (e.g. measurement, reporting, governance and quarterly review).
  • Data management. Both sales operations and marketing operations recognize the importance of data management, but most survey respondents reported little success with collaborating on data. The biggest issue is data validation and duplication between sales and marketing databases; 63 percent of respondents indicated that they are unsatisfied with sales and marketing data alignment. Steps to improve data management alignment include assessing data sources (e.g. existence, type, quality, ownership and current tools), aligning on data strategy (e.g. ownership, objectives, rules and investment), and taking joint action on the data management process (e.g. defining improvements and data requirements, and establishing measurement and governance).
  • Measurement. The primary issue here is that sales and marketing haven’t reached agreement on what is important to jointly measure and report on. The number-one issue cited by survey respondents was a lack of shared metrics between the functions. Steps for measurement improvement include assessing the state of measurement (e.g. current KPIs/metrics, data sources and expectations), establishing and aligning on shared metrics (e.g. metric definition, data input/outputs, technology used and reporting cadence), and developing a shared measurement process (e.g. testing, KPI alignment, implementation and analysis). The SiriusDecisions Aligned Measurement Framework is a great starting point to frame the conversation on shared sales and marketing metrics.

While sales operations and marketing operations are different functions, they have strong common interests around revenue, measurement, analytics, processes and tools. If both organizations can work together to drive sustainable improvements in the four crucial alignment areas, they will take big steps toward reducing organizational silos, eliminating process inefficiencies and improving joint communication and productivity.

How's your alignment?

 

Marcia Trask

Marcia Trask is a research director for SiriusDecisions' Marketing Executive Services. She is a passionate marketer with over 20 years of marketing experience in the technology industry. Her areas of expertise include strategic marketing planning and investment, campaign development, marketing technology, business transformation, process engineering, and marketing and sales alignment/enablement. Follow Marcia on Twitter @marciatrask.