The RevOps Playbook: How to Achieve True B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment

Published on: | Caroline Lane

In a complex B2B selling environment with more digital channels and larger buyer teams, sales and marketing alignment is more important than ever. This guide provides everything you need to assess, address and proactively improve how your teams work together to increase revenue and accelerate growth.

Imagine a relay race where two of your team members are running the opposite way. 

That’s what a lot of B2B business look like when it comes to marketing to sales handoffs. 

Just 30% of organizations say their sales and marketing teams are effectively aligned, and over a quarter of sales leaders say alignment is a top priority.1

But most are still not quite sure what true alignment looks like – let alone how to achieve it. 

This guide offers you a comprehensive guide to understand what sales and marketing alignment really is and ensure your teams win every race. 

Expect to learn:

  • What research finds is the single most effective way of ensuring alignment
  • Why up to 70% of B2B content is completely wasted
  • How poor alignment leads to 56% of MQLs being dismissed “not a good fit”2 

marketing and sales team alignment - properexpression

Understanding the Problem: Why Marketing and Sales Alignment is Important  

What Is Sales and Marketing Alignment? 

Sales and marketing may be separate departments with different skills, but their overarching goal is the same: to drive revenue for the business. This is important because B2B sales cycles have changed a lot in recent years. Buyers often “loop back” to earlier phases of the funnel, meaning they might interact with marketing, then sales, then marketing again – before finally moving into serious discussions about a deal.  

Sales and marketing alignment is all about ensuring the messages and service that buyers receive are consistent across every stage of the funnel and that the two departments work towards their shared goal. In practice, that means having processes, KPIs and customer-facing narratives that cohere and enable the two departments to collaborate seamlessly. 

Common Misconceptions Around Alignment 

Sales and marketing alignment has become a key talking point in B2B over the last few years, but this has created much confusion about what it actually is. To be clear, sales and marketing is not: 

  • Telling marketing that “Sales is your customer”
  • Promoting your best salesperson to “Head of sales and marketing”
  • Hiring expensive consultants to tell you “Marketing and sales should collaborate more”
  • Creating long reports on the failures of both departments to support the other 

No: Sales and marketing alignment is an ongoing process based upon shared goals and a sense of equality between the two departments that leads to concrete changes – and produces some very impressive results. 

What Are the Benefits of Sales and Marketing Alignment? 

The research is unambiguous: sales and marketing alignment has a direct impact on everything from employee experience to bottom-line performance. This most commonly manifests as: 

  • More revenue: Gartner reports that companies that prioritize sales and marketing alignment are nearly 3x more likely to exceed new customer acquisition targets. This is likely due to smoother collaboration between teams and more successful lead handovers, which create shorter sales cycles and produce more quality leads.
  • Improved organization culture: The Harvard Business Review argues greater alignment leads to “increased speed of change, more creative problem-solving, and better employee retention.” Sales and marketing both feel more valued when their departments are aligned and are more open to sharing insights or ideas.
  • Higher ROI: Some research suggests customer acquisition costs drop 30% when teams are aligned. The reason? Fewer wasted leads, stronger messaging alignment and both teams are focused on revenue – not simply meeting their own narrow objectives. 

But these benefits are not static: they compound over time, as aligned processes are refined and optimized. Sales and marketing both become more effective – and learn to support each other better. 

So, given the measurable benefits of alignment, it’s reasonable to wonder why so many organizations still struggle to get it right... 

What Causes Sales and Marketing Misalignments? 

Sales and marketing alignment is always specific to the individual organization. There are various cultural, individual, and historical causes that can create friction between departments – and solving these problems will always require tailored interventions 

However, there are four factors we have found consistently cause misalignment: 

1. KPIs 

According to Gartner, the most cited reason for sales and marketing team misalignment is having separate funnels. Each team operates with its own narrow goals in mind and optimizes processes around maximizing results – without a view of the overarching strategic outcomes. 

This is a problem because the two departments operate on different timelines. Marketing is in the business of influencing minds; sales is in the business of influencing wallets. So while marketing may work on either long or short timeframes, sales is usually looking at the shortest possible route to impact – and thinks in terms of closing deals this week or month, not the multi-year timeframes marketing often works around. 

The net result? Marketing may be told to run a Top of the Funnel (ToFu) campaign – but sales expects it to produce Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) results. This creates frustration for both parties and ultimately means a huge volume of resources are wasted on campaigns that were never going to produce the desired results. 

2. Data silos 

A further problem comes when sales or marketing needs support from the other to direct strategic decisions. Even if they are aligned on goals, many teams are stuck with data silos that make it hard to collaborate – or even see what the other department needs from them. 

This has an impact across the entire funnel. At the top, there is a lack of clarity around the impact of content: 60 to 70% of B2B content is never used because the subject topics are irrelevant to the buyer audience, while roughly 55% of marketers don’t know which assets the sales team uses most. At the bottom, marketing often lacks visibility of what happens after they handoff leads: just 44% of MQLs are deemed a potential good fit by sales, but marketing may never be aware of this. 

Ultimately, these figures reflect a wider trend: both teams struggle to understand where the best opportunities come from, which channels generate revenue or how to optimize their efforts. 

3. Lack of Shared definitions 

Data silos are one thing, but semantic silos are another. This is a surprisingly common phenomenon: even when teams do share data, they lack a set of common definitions to properly interpret and use the information.  

What constitutes a good lead? What does ‘marketing qualified’ really mean? Without a shared language, even the most seemingly concrete targets and agreements can become meaningless – ultimately making alignment virtually impossible. 

4. Roles and accountability 

Alignment is most often a top-down process: it requires new systems and incentives to guide the behavior of individual reps or marketers. But this relies on clearly defined roles and a sense of personal accountability, which is often diluted.  

This lack of personal accountability and clear individual responsibilities creates a power struggle between the two departments. A common refrain in marketing departments is “sales is the customer”, which often leads marketers to blame sales when deals don’t come through. But sales also feels marketing should be providing higher quality leads or offering greater support – and neither of these narratives is a) accurate or b) compatible with true alignment.  

What Are the Consequences of Misalignment? 

While sales and marketing misalignment produces a wide range of problems for organizations, a recent McKinsey report sums the core problem up neatly: “The more fragmented the marketing and sales experience, the higher the risk of losing the customer”. In fact, 44% of businesses say lead generation is negatively impacted by the sales and marketing relationship, while 37% say sales cycles are longer and harder because of it. 

However, these are just the measurable effects. Misalignment also negatively impacts your organizational culture by creating tension between teams, producing a competitive atmosphere and making it harder for both to do their jobs. This isn't just a fixed problem: it grows over time, and if it’s not addressed it becomes harder to resolve the cultural and structural issues that it creates. 

All of which makes it more important to identify misalignment as early as possible... 

How to Know If Your Sales and Marketing Teams Are Misaligned 

While misalignment is sometimes glaringly obvious, it is more often subtle and hard to detect. Marketing and sales professionals know they are supposed to be on the same team,  and may therefore (unconsciously) conceal points of friction. Equally, they may never have worked in an organization where the two departments are properly aligned – and therefore think misalignment is the norm. 

Here are 11 common factors we’ve used to identify the cause of sales and marketing misalignment within complex B2B organizations:   

  • Teams don't know each other's main goals and KPIs
  • KPIs are not aligned towards the higher-level business goals
  • Teams don't target the same company types, size, industry, job titles
  • Teams never conduct lead reviews together
  • Sales never knows what campaigns marketing is running
  • Marketing is not invited to sales kick-offs (SKOs)
  • Sales & Marketing leaders don't meet weekly or bi-weekly
  • There is no company-wide process to follow up on marketing leads
  • Marketing never listens to sales calls to hear prospects’ problems and objections first-hand
  • Marketing leaders aren’t familiar with the deals currently in the pipeline
  • Marketing leaders can't tell you how much pipeline marketing is creating 

marketing and sales team alignment - properexpression

Developing a Solution: How to Plan for Sales and Marketing Alignment 

There is no silver bullet for sales and marketing alignment. It is the product of multiple processes, initiatives, and complicated factors which we can break into three areas: strategy, processes, and culture. 

How to Build a Shared Strategy for Sales and Marketing 

The first step is to ensure both departments have clarity on your overarching strategy. This can be achieved through: 

1. Establishing a shared goal 

Alignment always starts with buy-in from senior leadership. You need both departments on the same page and focused on a shared goal. This may shift depending on the specifics of your business and economic conditions, but most of the time the clearest shared goal is to maximize revenue.  

This should be split across multiple timelines: set monthly, quarterly and annual goals for revenue to reflect the fact that marketing can influence deals across all these timeframes. Marketing will therefore need to partially share today’s sales goals, while also keeping an eye on longer-term sales goals. 

2. Introducing aligned incentives 

Ensure each team understands how they will personally benefit from alignment. Some sales teams currently receive less compensation for deals that have been influenced by marketing, and marketing bonuses are rarely tied to revenue. Fix these problems and you will see immediate changes in behavior and focus. 

But financial rewards aren’t the only incentive: each department also takes pride in what it does. You therefore need to show how alignment will help improve performance for both. For sales, alignment around revenue means marketing is focused on delivering the highest quality leads and providing targeted support. For marketing, the shared goal means sales will follow up on more leads and help improve marketing ROI.  

3. Aligning KPIs 

Reevaluate each department’s performance measurements to ensure they are tied to your shared goals. This will ensure both teams optimize the right factors, are held accountable and ultimately maximize performance.  

A simple example is lead generation: marketing is often tasked with producing a set number of leads per week, but this can incentivize teams to choose quantity over quality. Revise your strategy to include an assessment of the full lead lifecycle; this will ensure you optimize for quality leads that actually generate deals and new revenue.  

Note: Many organizations will need to migrate their CRM and implement better tracking to achieve this – both of which we will cover in the next section. 

4. Creating a unified playbook 

This doesn’t have to be a literal task: you don’t need a 100+ page document both teams pretend to read. Instead, this step is all about ensuring both departments think and communicate about the business in the same way. 

Gartner reports that B2B buyers consistently spend time “de-conflicting” information during their research process, much of which comes from inconsistencies within messaging. But establishing a shared view of the buyer to a unified selling story ensures your business communicates a clear and coherent message at every stage of the funnel – which will make it easier for buyers to make a purchase. 

How to Align Sales and Marketing Processes 

Your revenue strategy must be reinforced and enabled by internal processes. This can be broken down into four steps: 

1. Map and align funnels 

Assess your existing marketing and sales funnels and map out an ideal funnel that would eliminate gaps and enable better lead handoffs. This should be broken into clear phases with universally applicable definitions based on objective facts. 

In practice, this means making your funnel as simple as possible. Don’t create complicated exemptions for specific clients; don’t use Lifecyle stages and lead statuses: create a single, clear funnel that can be easily used by both teams for every client – and therefore enables individual sellers and marketers to become fluent with the system more quickly. 

2. Create shared data sources 

Map where each team’s performance is tracked and where customer data is held. Then reconfigure your systems – or, if necessary, migrate your entire CRM - to enable seamless sharing between departments. This is also a perfect opportunity to create a space for “shared insights”, where each team can provide feedback on content or customer insights to help the other refine their tactics.  

3. Establish SLAs 

Create a contract that codifies the expectations and responsibilities of both departments. This will not only document your shared definitions and goals, but it will also establish official lines of communication and deliverables on a weekly or monthly cadence. 

Many organizations struggle to build trust between departments. In fact, 87% of the words sales and marketing teams use to describe each other are negative. However, a service-level agreement (SLA) helps to remove ambiguity from the relationship and ultimately build trust over time. 

4. Set up regular lead reviews 

Establish a regular cadence for lead reviews where sales and marketing will assess the current lead pipeline and measure them against your shared objectives. This is a vital practical step that makes alignment tangible and clear: is marketing generating and nurturing the right kind and volume of leads? Is sales following up and converting the best leads into deals and revenue? 

If not, each department will need to reevaluate its strategy and tactics. But the message should never be “let’s try harder”: you need to put clear expectations in place and set a clear date when you will assess whether the new approach has improved performance.  

Note: Lead reviews should be run by someone with authority across both departments. This “referee” will provide objectivity and ensure both parties feel their perspective is being considered. 


Partner with Sales and Marketing Alignment Experts 

As seasoned experts in sales and marketing alignment, ProperExpression has proven expertise to: 

  • Centralize reporting and analytics
  • Create shared definitions
  • Align KPIs
  • Create custom reports to ensure proper attribution
  • Support sales enablement 

Want to ensure you produce the maximum possible revenue? 


How to Create Cultural Alignment Between Sales and Marketing 

The final piece of the puzzle is less tangible but no less important: the cultural and interpersonal aspects of alignment. We have found three factors particularly effective in building a culture that enables alignment: 

1. Create standard meeting cadences 

Establish clear lines of communication and encourage regular communication between departments. A weekly or bi-weekly meeting between leadership will help to hold teams in both sales and marketing accountable while also creating a sense of shared responsibility. 

Note: Make sure this extends throughout each department. While managers and executives are more likely to have regular interactions, more junior team members should also make regular contact to gain insights and build a rapport. 

2. Encourage open dialogue 

Ensure your sales and marketing teams get to know each other and become more comfortable communicating and collaborating openly. This could be:  

  • Social: through shared lunches or full office days out.
  • Business: including marketing in your sales kick-off calls.
  • Celebratory: teams coming together to toast big and small wins 

Some organizations even benefit from having individuals shadow someone in the other department to see what they do all day – and gain greater empathy and appreciation for the skill and effort it involves. 

Note: The CEO or Business Unit Leader should be involved here. They need to be able to assess the success of both sales and marketing, which means they need at least some direct experience in both departments. 

3. Establish a shared leader 

Make sure you have a leader in place who has experience across both departments. This will create a middle ground where both teams feel understood and ensure neither team feels the other is being prioritized.  

This will open up cross-departmental communication and make alignment feel like a shared venture. In fact, 32% of companies say the single most effective tactic to align sales and marketing teams is to create a liaison role that spans both functions – such as a revenue operations director or specialist. 

Maintaining Alignment: How to Keep Your Teams Working Together 

It would be nice to think sales and marketing alignment as a one-and-done deal. But the reality is progress can easily be lost if you neglect processes, or the culture is allowed to turn sour.  

We recommend every B2B business follows the three best practices to maintain alignment: 

1. Implement RevOps 

Revenue Operations (RevOps) is a key strategic function that helps align, coordinate and optimize your sales and marketing teams around revenue generation. This typically involves several key processes, including:  

  • CRM strategy and optimization
  • Integrating marketing and sales data
  • Funnel automation
  • Overseeing lead scoring and reviews
  • Integrating key marketing and sales systems 

The net result? Your sales and marketing teams have all the support they need to keep up the processes you’ve established. Introducing RevOps can also further shape your culture around the central goal of maximizing revenue.  

ProperExpression recently used a RevOps methodology to align sales and marketing for one client – and increased inbound revenue by 466% in a single year. 

2. Measure and Report on the Impact of Alignment 

Many sales and marketing professionals may secretly doubt the new strategy and processes you implement will have a real impact on the bottom line. That’s why it’s important to measure, track, and proactively report on the positive effects of alignment. 

Being able to present leaders in both departments with numbers that show how the company and their own team's performance have benefited from alignment will encourage them to prioritize maintaining these systems. This also extends to the wider team, who should always be kept in the loop, so they understand how their day-to-day work produces meaningful improvements to bottom-line results.  

3. Partner With the Right RevOps Agency 

Sales and marketing alignment involves many moving parts, and allowing even a single one to lag can undermine all your efforts. That’s why a growing number of B2B businesses rely on expert RevOps partners to help proactively manage and maintain their new systems. 

From platform-specific expertise to proven experience navigating complicated cultural challenges, the right agency will ensure you cover every aspect of RevOps – and ultimately help you gain all the benefits of sales and marketing alignment.  

As a HubSpot Platinum Partner with more than 15 years’ experience helping over 50 companies align their sales and marketing teams, ProperExpression is exactly that partner. Want to explore how our proven methods could help you align sales and marketing and maximize revenue? 

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