LinkedIn Insights Lead Shares 3 Tips for (Finally) Achieving Sales and Marketing Alignment

By Ernan Roman, President of ERDM Corp., DMA Hall of Famer and author of “Voice of the Customer Marketing”

Jennifer Brett, Insights Lead at LinkedIn (and speaker at the upcoming 2018 Marketing Analytics Conference) provides 3 tips for achieving better alignment between marketing and sales in this issue of “4 Questions for Digital Innovators.

Many professionals assume that marketing and sales work hand in hand to help move the business along. But in reality, sales often questions the value of marketing and asks what the function delivers for them. At LinkedIn, we partner closely with B2B marketers and many feel that they are under fire to demonstrate that marketing drives revenue and is not a cost center. To respond to this challenge, marketers need to demonstrate value in real, tangible terms. Sales & marketing alignment enables more effective measurement of marketing efforts (and more benefits mentioned below) making it an initiative that marketing should embrace.

Sales and marketing alignment is not easy and requires time and effort on both sides. What are the benefits to get everyone on board?

Sales and marketing alignment is really about the customer; producing a more seamless experience for them. Account alignment increases the probability of relevant targeting, leading to relevant advertising for the customers whom receive it, before sales reaches out to them. This means better distribution of marketing material that can support a customer in the buying-journey. This in turn drives more success for sales and drives incremental revenue.

Sales also receives better support from marketing across the full ‘buying committee’, i.e. marketing knows everyone whom sales needs to influence, rather than targeting a single audience segment. For marketing, alignment drives improved marketing effectiveness as it reduces waste if marketing is truly aligned with the audience that Sales needs to reach.

So, what should marketing & sales do to get aligned?

First, align on strategy. Sales thinks of accounts and individuals, whereas marketing thinks about broader ‘target audiences’. At LinkedIn, our data shows that quite often, sales and marketing are not aligned on who they are talking to! Frequently, a high percentage of the leads that sales is contacting have not been touched by marketing. But there is hope: the rise of account based marketing (ABM) poses an opportunity to drive better strategic alignment. It acts as a forcing function for sales and marketing to come together and agree on a strategically-selected list of accounts to target and the important individuals within those accounts.

Second, align on measurement. Vanity metrics, like clicks and engagements, are of no value to sales and honestly, they are a poor way to measure marketing effectiveness. Marketing must embrace metrics that are traditionally associated with sales, such as deals closed and revenue generated and track the performance of their leads to the end of the sales funnel. This is harder to do than collecting CTR metrics, but it provides tangible results. There is also an opportunity to improve the strategic relationship; by looking for signals from those successful leads, marketing can drive more efficiency.

Finally, marketing must get access to the necessary data and not end with the tech stack they use. Marketing needs to be connected to the sales CRM so that marketing leads can be tracked through the funnel and analyzed to calculate ROI. Ensuring the right talent is in place to comfortably navigate CRM data and analyze outcomes is also key for marketing to get this part right.

Following these 3 tips allows marketing to demonstrate the ultimate revenue their leads and efforts drive, so they can answer the question “what has marketing done for me lately?

Jennifer has 10 years’ experience working in digital marketing with a focus on research and analytics. Currently at LinkedIn, Jennifer leads the Americas Insights team for Marketing Solutions and prior to this, she led the same team for the EMEA region at LinkedIn UK. Jennifer regularly engages with LinkedIn customers, frequently represents LinkedIn at industry events and has been published and interviewed in several high-end industry publications. She previously worked in analytics at Google with some of the largest retail brands in the UK. Before entering the marketing industry, Jennifer completed a PhD in Political Science from Trinity College Dublin.