April 13, 2022

Measurable Growth Marketing Success Requires You to Align Your Operating Model

Published April 13, 2022
By Brock Pernice, Co-Founder and Managing Partner

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Updated May 10, 2022

Marketing’s seismic shift to digital has had an impact on every facet of doing business.  

Many companies feel pressure to learn from digitally native companies and question the status quo, especially when it comes to creating synchronicity and alignment between the roles of marketing and sales.

In fact, lack of marketing and sales alignment is regularly cited as one of the top concerns for B2B organizations, and for good reason—misalignment between these two teams accounts for millions of dollars in lost opportunity every year.

So, what can you do to help your marketing and sales teams collaborate instead of compete?

And what’s possible when these teams are completely aligned in pursuit of the same growth goals?

That’s what we’ll explore as we analyze and align your operating model. 

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This is the second article in a short series on the five keys to success in full-funnel growth marketing: 

By the end of this article, you’ll understand what it means to align your operating model with your marketing and why that’s such an important step in building a full-funnel growth marketing strategy. 

Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at brock.pernice@truevoicegrowth.com.
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When you set out to align marketing and sales, overwhelming questions can come up: Is this a technology investment or a human capital investment? Do you need to hire a firm to facilitate, or can you adjust existing processes with your existing team? 

The answer will be unique to every organization. But at TrueVoice Growth Marketing™, we anchor the discussion in the buyer’s journey. Because the most important outcome of an audience-first framework is that it not only validates internal assumptions, but that it also helps to build enterprise-wide consensus around the target prospect and their journeys.

With consensus on the buyer’s journey funnel, it becomes easier for your organization to frame the alignment discussion around a common set of outcomes that marketing and sales wants to achieve along the funnel cycle. 

For most organizations this means re-imagining the marketing and sales funnel as a revenue cycle. This cycle integrates marketing and sales initiatives throughout the entire process. Strong sales and marketing alignment leverages the long-term vision and data-focused methods of marketers to support the short-term quotas and business problem-solving approaches of salespeople.

Alignment along the buyer’s journey takes shape when your organization focuses on three core areas:

Lead Qualification Criteria

Aligned teams have a shared understanding of qualification criteria. Agreement on qualification attributes for leads, qualified leads, etc. translates to a standard language that both teams can understand and use to keep track of key funnel metrics. Shared definitions foster collaborative and healthy communication across teams with separate goals and initiatives. 

Funnel Process Clarity

Aligned teams also have central knowledge of standard processes, from how team members are trained to the way technology is leveraged between the teams. For example, are bottom-funnel leads completing a sale? Is lead data kept consistent and accurate within the CRM? By considering these questions and related processes, teams can achieve context for communicating with each other, as well as each lead in the funnel.

Transparent Communication

Regular communication cements alignment between cooperative marketing and sales departments. Teams agree on key marketing tactics, schedules, and metrics that maintain transparency. Reviews and check-ins are grounded in a focus on collaboration and outcomes.

Alignment between marketing and sales is built upon a lot of moving parts. But because these parts are broken down to basic elements, and supported by both internal and external resources, the results lead to steady, incremental progress.

Maintaining Alignment Between Marketing and Sales

No amount of shared goals will keep your marketing and sales team in alignment if you don’t put practices in place to maintain that relationship. At TrueVoice Growth Marketing™, we’ve identified six essential steps to maintaining continual sales and marketing alignment. 

1.  Create a shared understanding of target audiences

Most companies see personas and target market profiles based on data and best practices as marketing tasks, and some companies silo this process within the marketing team. But team members from sales and other departments involved in the sales process can contribute a lot of valuable insight. 

The most effective target audience profiles will come from a combination of data-driven best practices and knowledge of changing prospect behavior gathered from audience insights, analytics and marketing automation tools from marketing combined with historical knowledge from sales. 

2. Build content and assets that enable full funnel engagement

The sales team doesn’t have relevant content to support the sales process, and the marketing team is tired of creating assets sales won’t use. Sound familiar? Content is an important point of connection and fluidity between sales and marketing, so when you zero in on creating a full funnel strategy, it should start with a content audit. 

Sometimes, great content already exists within the organization and it simply isn’t organized in an accessible way. Or great content can be created from existing content with a few tweaks. For example, you can use long form content—like an ebook, video series, or whitepaper—as anchoring content that connects to other, easier to digest pieces like blogs, social media posts, infographics, etc. 

3.  Develop useful, specific guidelines for Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads

One source of frustration for many sales and marketing teams is a disconnect between what constitutes a Marketing Qualified Lead and/or Sales Qualified Lead, and how to validate these leads with data. In fact, it’s a big enough pain point that 79% of B2B marketers have not even established a lead scoring process that drives MQL/SQL validation. 

While lead scoring can be done manually, the process is made significantly easier when it is set up in marketing automation or CRM platforms. While there is a significant investment, it’s generally much easier for companies to create clean databases with accurate lead scoring if the platform is implemented earlier in growth stages.

4.  Establish feedback and communication norms that facilitate action

Marketing and sales teams often stop communicating about leads once marketing “hands off” an MQL, which leads to potential difficulties for both teams. Marketing teams can get demotivated when sales teams don’t properly follow up with MQLs, and sales may have complaints about the actual quality of the lead.

To mitigate this, define and establish Service Level Agreements that outline the expectations and actions needed from both teams at each stage of the funnel. Decide how these SLAs will be enforced and ensure there are opportunities to revisit and revise them if needed. Creating norms around this “test and learn” approach and responding with small pivots and quicker responses to sales funnel slowdowns or deals that are going south will help drive more revenue and strengthen trust between sales and marketing teams.

5.  Schedule regular debriefs to review performance metrics

Along with increased informal communication, marketing and sales teams should have regular “stakeholder” meetings to discuss sales funnel movement, closed deals, and potential clogs. Give different team members a chance to lead meetings or facilitate discussion to ensure a diversity of voices and viewpoints are considered. At the end of each meeting, identify action items and next steps and create accountability structures like deadlines.

6.  Adopt a change management process

Any organizational re-alignment requires change. Getting organizational silos to re-orient to the buyer’s journey requires it more so than others, as this change permeates the entire organization. A structured process is crucial to tackle the challenges head-on. Thus, it is imperative to implement a change management framework, to drive transformation by supporting individual changes to achieve organizational success. 

For example, deploying a structured approach like the well-known ADKAR protocol will ensure that each individual experiencing change moves through the five phases necessary to make overall change successful:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to support the change
  • Knowledge of how to change
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behavior
  • Reinforcement to make the change stick

Marketing and Sales Align When In Service of the Right Operating Model

Growth is not just a marketing issue; it is a whole-system problem. A successful full funnel approach to marketing requires marketing leaders to address alignment. Without alignment and commitment to a shared single source of truth about customers and performance, your entire organization is at a disadvantage to realize its growth goals. However, by taking small, incremental steps towards alignment with the customer funnel, you can unify these teams to achieve newfound levels of growth.

Ready to grow by aligning your operating model? Request a discovery session with TrueVoice Growth Marketing™.

Other Blogs by Brock Pernice

Measurable Growth Marketing Success Depends On Managing Change

Measurable Growth Marketing Success Requires a “Test and Learn” Approach

Measurable Growth Marketing Success Means Measuring Across the Funnel

Measurable Growth Marketing Success Starts With Knowing Your Audience 

Reaching Customers Demands Marketers Focus on 3 Key Areas, But a Single View of Data Rules Them All

How A Wealth Management Company Embraced Full Funnel Marketing to Drive $5 Billion in New Revenue: Five Keys to Success