How to Achieve Sales and Marketing Alignment

Published on: | Updated on: | Trisha Miles


Actual marketing and sales alignment starts with an organization’s leadership. Set your business up for success by understanding how these two teams can work together toward the same goals to generate revenue

Aligning Your Marketing and Sales Teams

Firemon’s CMO, Charles Gold, breaks down the marketing and sales alignment process into four main steps:

  1. Alignment efforts have to start with company leadership

  2. Agreeing on the buyer personas, key messaging and product differentiation

  3. Defining the stages of the funnel and the accompanying goals and KPIs to be tracked

  4. Collaboratively setting goals to inform all marketing and demand generation efforts

Hear more about the key components to consider when working toward alignment and ways to overcome any obstacles in this episode of our Marketing Expert Chat series.


Video Transcript:

CAROLINE: Hi, today I am sitting down with Charles Gold. Charles is a very respected marketing leader here in the DC area. He has 25 years of marketing, product management and business development experience in high growth software companies. He’s been primarily focused on cybersecurity cloud and infrastructure segments. And now he is the CMO at FireMon. Charles thank you so much for being with me today.

CHARLES: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

CAROLINE: So today I want to talk a little bit about sales and marketing alignment. A couple of weeks ago, I had an interview with a sales leader about sales and marketing alignment. So, I’m very excited to have the marketing perspective on this. So, sales and marketing alignment is something that is really important to companies. A lot of people are talking about it.

In my experience, it’s really difficult to implement this well, so that it really works. And so, I’m really curious to get your opinion about what are the critical activities or processes or just cultural things that you need to put in place to have truly successful sales and marketing alignment.

CHARLES: Got it. So first, let me say there is no greater partnership at the executive level. And at the team level in an organization than the sales and marketing team. You’ve got two groups who are effectively running different parts of the same business process, which is turning the market into opportunity into revenue. And then growing those customer relationships. So that’s extremely important and very near and dear to my heart. It’s a priority wherever I’m working.

In my experience, there’s really a few things that really drive that alignment.

First thing: it has to start at the top. Whoever is leading a sales organization, leading a marketing organization need to be partners, and they need to recognize and respect one another as being partners in this process. And then it flows down from there, then the teams will be aligned or have a greater chance of being aligned.

The second thing is to have your sales folks and your marketing folks on the same page of what the story is. So, who is the ideal customer profile? Who are the personas we’re gonna go after? What’s the story we’re gonna tell them? And how are we different from the competition? So, if you’re aligned on the story, and the personas and the differentiation, you’re able to come up with better ways to go to market and sales is better able to take advantage of the leads and the content that you put together. Because it’s all in context of the same story.

If sales is telling one story and marketing is telling another story that the content doesn’t make sense, the programs don’t make sense, the leads don’t make sense. So that’s like a number one, before you get into the mathy stuff. But the mathy stuff is really, really important. So, you’re managing this business process, which we call a funnel in sales and marketing. And you need to be aligned on what the definitions of the funnel stages are, what the metrics are that you’re gonna track, and what the goals are. And so, having that alignment so that you understand what that process looks like, allows you to work better throughout it.

So, we’ve got content. And then we’ve got content and message and then we’ve got alignment on the process.

The final thing that I’d say is the way you set up goals. So, traditionally marketers have been goaled on things like inquiries or leads or MQLs. And salespeople have been goaled on pipeline and close revenue. The way that I’ve seen you close that gap is to have marketers actually goaled on sales opportunities and pipeline. So, if you look at things like marketing contribution to pipeline, opportunities sourced or influenced by marketing, close business that was marketing source, then all of a sudden, you’ve got them aligned around the same kind of goals. And they’re talking the same language.

You can get away from this: “Well, I gave you plenty of leads,” “Your leads weren’t good enough,” “It’s not enough leads,” and that kinda conversation, which just creates friction.

So really, it’s those four things. It’s alignment from the top, it’s alignment on the message and the content and the target audience. It’s alignment on the process. And then it’s common goals.

CAROLINE: Great, great, I love this. And this is very much how we work with our clients as well. And we always want to be talking to the sales team and be aligned to their goals. So that’s really, really great to hear.

All right, I think it’s great advice and very practical advice that we can all start applying today. So, thank you so much for your time and for joining me today, Charles.

CHARLES: You bet, certainly my pleasure.