In many B2B marketing organizations, marketing is expected to deliver leads and sales is expected to close. In a world of perfect sales and marketing alignment, marketing and sales have a common definition of qualified leads, the number of leads needed, when leads should be delivered and how the handoff from marketing to sales will function.
But is this really perfect sales and marketing alignment? A clear definition of roles and responsibilites with no overlap?
Adam Needles (@abneedles) makes some great points that call this into question in his recent post on DemandGen Reports, Why Demand Generation Shouldn’t be Focused on Marketing Qualified Leads.
In his article, Adam makes the case for focusing on revenue qualified leads, removing SQLs and MQLs to create a single definition of qualified leads across the organization. He also points out that sales and marketing both contribute through the entire funnel. The process from contact to close looks far more like the bottom graphic than the one on the top.
The real implication, although Adam doesn’t say it, is that sales and marketing alignment is the wrong objective. Perfectly aligning sales and marketing on either side of the fictitous wall dividing them isn’t the answer.
Instead, the wall needs to be torn down and sales and marketing need to be integrated through the entire customer experience.
Here are two problems with aligning but not integrating sales and marketing.
- Alignment reinforces silos. Marketing is focused on MQLs, sales is focused on revenue. Marketing is delivering leads, sales is closing leads. It creates a division of labor where there should be an integration of effort and skill.
- Alignment ignores reality. Sales and marketing both acquire leads. Sales and marketing both nurture leads. The business needs to improve lead acquisition and nurturing by having sales and marketing partner through the entire process.
Today, sales and marketing are often not aligned, and alignment is a good first step. But long term, merely aligning sales and marketing will not be enough to sustain a competitive advantage through sales and marketing.
Can sales and marketing stop at alignment, or will the conversation shift towards integrating sales and marketing throughout every aspect of demand generation and the pipeline in the future? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).
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