Sales and Marketing alignment may be B2B marketers’ biggest challenge in executing successful go-to-market strategies. Why? As B2B buyers evolve in their purchasing habits, it’s become apparent that traditional sales and marketing methods are no longer effective. Buyers want to conduct their own research and make informed decisions before engaging with a salesperson. This trend has created new challenges for businesses but also new opportunities. It’s time to stop resisting this change and instead focus on aligning sales and marketing with what modern buyers are looking for.
This blog will discuss how account-based marketing (ABM) and demand generation can help businesses gain a competitive advantage in this evolving market. We’ll also explore the top challenges that sales and marketing teams face as they try to align and provide solutions to overcome them. Let’s dive in and discover how we can adapt and thrive in this new era of B2B buying.
How can you align marketing and sales with strategies like Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Demand Generation?
Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Demand Generation can align marketing and sales by putting the buyer first, educating them at scale, and handing off sales-ready leads. This requires defining the entire buying committee, agreeing on buying roles and priorities, and aligning goals, data, handoff protocols, and lifecycle stage definitions.
It Starts with Putting the Buyer First
The key to successful sales and marketing alignment is understanding that marketing aims to make selling easier. To do that, you need to put the buyer first and make it easier for them to learn about the problems you can solve and how to take the next step. This will require a strategy that combines sales, marketing, technology, messaging, creativity, and content.
The key is to get in front of targeted accounts and stakeholders before they are in the market for your solution to make them aware that you exist and the problem you are solving. Buyers want highly relevant information that is easy to find and share. They want it in their preferred formats and channels where they go to learn. Build affinity and trust with these accounts by understanding all the information they need during the decision process and ensuring you are teeing them up with easy-to-access and shared content.
To succeed with ABM and Demand Gen, you must reach out to your target accounts and stakeholders even before they are in the market for your solution. Become their go-to resource by building affinity and trust by providing them with relevant information in a preferred format and in channels they frequent.
Leveraging ABM and Demand Generation will enable you to look bigger than you are to the selected account while educating buyers at scale and then handing off sales-ready leads when the buyer has indicated they are ready to engage in the sales process. This requires deep integration between sales and marketing and a shift toward activities that will significantly impact the buyer. By doing this, you’ll be able to:
- Build better relationships with customers
- Improve collaboration between sales and marketing
- Increase deal size
- Improve sales velocity
- Outperform your competition
ABM and Demand Generation Readiness Checklist
Is ABM and Demand Gen the right strategy for your business? Use this quick checklist to find out:
- Do you have a great solution that solves an important problem for your target accounts? It’s essential to have a solution that truly meets the needs of your target accounts; otherwise, your ABM and Demand Gen efforts may not be effective.
- Do you have a high-ticket solution (i.e., $50K +)? ABM and Demand Gen work best for high-value deals, as the effort required to develop and execute the strategy is significant.
- Is your sales cycle 4 months or longer? ABM and Demand Gen is a long-term game requiring a longer sales cycle to cultivate relationships with target accounts properly.
- Do you have a way to identify a segment of accounts to target? At the heart of effective ABM and Demand Gen campaigns is the ability to target a cohort of accounts you want to win. It’s critical that marketing and sales can agree on which accounts to target.
- Can you develop content that helps the buyers during their purchase journey? Compelling content is crucial for educating and engaging target accounts at each stage of the buyer journey.
- Is there interest in getting sales and marketing more aligned with how buyers buy today? Alignment between sales and marketing is key for ensuring that target accounts have a seamless experience throughout the buying process.
Sales and Marketing Alignment Challenges and Solutions
Here are the top five challenges facing marketing and sales teams and solutions to overcome them.
Challenge 1: Poor Marketing-to-Sales Handoff
When to hand off a lead may seem simple, but it’s where things can go wrong. For example, treating someone who registered for a webinar as a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and then getting mad at the sales team for not following up. Marketers can fix this by identifying the buying stages, what information buyers need at each stage, who is responsible for providing the information, and when a lead is “sales-ready.”
Sales and marketing should agree on when sales take over, how marketing adjusts, and ensure consistency across ICP tiers and buying roles. These handoff processes should be implemented in your CRM and marketing automation platform.
Do you have a system in place that automatically assigns marketing leads once they are qualified, or are they already assigned to a sales rep before they reach that stage? How do you notify your sales team – through a task, notification, email, or other methods? While tools like Hubspot can aid in streamlining this process, its effectiveness depends on how well-defined and agreed-upon the process is by both teams.
Challenge 2: Too Many Systems and Versions of the Truth
The use of different tools for marketing and sales operations can result in data accuracy issues, misaligned handoff and scoring criteria, and no single source of truth for decision-making. The best way to solve this problem is to move all marketing and sales operations into a single tool like HubSpot or audit where information needs to be collected, synced, and updated between systems.
Challenge 3: Inconsistent or Siloed Data
Data inconsistency is caused by using too many tools, inefficient processes for using tech, and a lack of operational leadership. Inaccurate data leads to bad decisions that impact the entire buying journey, from understanding buyer stages, what content should be shared, and who’s ready for outreach from sales. Data drives the revenue engine, and bad data means that campaigns are not optimized, people are placed in the wrong segmented cohorts, and prospect accounts are over or under-touched.
If you are not getting the data you need to run effective ABM and Demand gen campaigns that align sales and marketing, your data collection processes might be in the way. Start by asking your team what obstacles prevent them from getting the right data and adding it to your stack. Consider ways to use automation to keep data clean and accurate. Ensure systems share data regularly and condense your tech stack to maintain consistency.
Challenge 4: Different Measuring Sticks
The process of gating content to capture a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and then sending it to a Sales/Business Development Rep (SDR/BDR) to convert it into a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) can create friction between the marketing and sales teams. If the marketing team is assessed based on their ability to generate MQLs and the sales team is evaluated based on their ability to convert MQLs into opportunities, their goals are misaligned, which can create problems. Marketing shouldn’t be high-fiving themselves for achieving their MQL goal if sales aren’t hitting their pipeline or Closed Won goals.
Solving this issue requires building a culture of collaboration and creating a feedback loop for continuous improvement. Marketing and sales teams should focus on the same goal, revenue growth, to ensure alignment, reduce friction, and achieve greater success in generating revenue for the organization.
Challenge 5: Running Integrated ABM and Demand Gen Plays
Trying to run ABM and Demand Gen plays with misaligned teams is a recipe for failure. Fixing challenges 1-4 is an excellent first step in the process. This requires identifying the right accounts, creating personalized content and campaigns, and building cross-functional teams with shared goals to execute the strategy.
We’re on the Same Team. Let’s Win Together!
Marketing and sales teams should work together to better understand each other’s processes, including identifying what content resonates with prospects and what objections salespeople commonly encounter. This understanding can help the teams make informed choices about generating revenue and demand and can lead to more productive conversations about optimizing the pipeline.
Achieving alignment between sales and marketing teams can be challenging, but it’s essential to reach modern B2B buyers. By overcoming these obstacles and working together, you can create effective marketing campaigns, build long-term customer relationships, and drive revenue growth.
Key Takeaways for Aligning Marketing & Sales with Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Demand Generation:
- Account-based marketing (ABM) and demand generation prioritize the buyer, making it easier for them to learn about the company’s solutions and take the next step.
ABM and Demand Generation enables businesses to educate buyers at scale and hand off sales-ready leads when the buyer is ready to engage in the sales process.
- Marketing and sales alignment is crucial for successful go-to-market strategies in B2B marketing.
- Successful ABM and Demand Gen requires defining the entire buying committee, with buying roles and priorities agreed upon by both teams.
- The top five challenges facing marketing and sales teams are poor marketing-to-sales handoff, too many systems and versions of the truth, inconsistent or siloed data, misaligned metrics, and inadequate sales enablement.
- Solutions to overcome these challenges include identifying the buying stages and the information buyers need at each stage, moving all marketing and sales operations into a single tool, using data to drive the revenue engine, aligning metrics across departments, and delivering effective sales enablement.
How Can We Help?
The world is changing fast, and sales and marketing alignment is critical to stay competitive. At Vende Digital, we help B2B organizations like yours develop B2B marketing strategies to win in the digital-first world.
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