How to Make Sales and Marketing Alignment Work in B2B?

Lena M.
5 min read
13.10.2023 12:13:00

Many B2B companies have a marketing department and a separate sales team. With this division of roles, however, both teams must work well together.

Although there are small differences between the terms marketing and sales, the work of the other team is essential for each team.

The transfer of leads from marketing to the sales department is one of the central steps in the sales process. The quality of the leads is crucial for conversion.

However, the handover to Sales only works effectively if both departments work together smoothly and responsibilities are clearly defined.

This collaboration is also known as sales and marketing alignment.

Sales and Marketing Alignment - the Success Factor for B2B Companies

The majority of all sales employees complain about not having enough information about the customer at the first sales contact.

This is not only due to changing market dynamics, but often to internal company processes. While the marketing team is responsible for lead generation, it is up to the sales team to turn the leads into salespeople.

The problem: marketing and sales often work in isolation from each other, which reduces the chances of opportunities and sales.

But how can the quality of leads in the handover to sales be significantly increased?

The qualification of leads plays a central role in the entire purchasing process. The distinction between MQL and its further development into SQL ready-to-buy is an essential component of functioning lead management.

If the sales team approaches customers at the right time and with the right content, the contract is within reach.

The quality of the leads is therefore of central importance in the marketing-to-sales handover. Only companies whose marketing and sales act as a unified organization and jointly define goals, communication and sales strategy will win customers and increase sales.

So remember:

  • A successful and efficient sales process depends on cooperation between Sales & Marketing.

  • The timing of the handover and the quality of the leads are crucial for more sales.

  • Leads must be qualified and prioritized before they are handed over to sales.

From Qualified Marketing Lead to Qualified Sales Lead 

A lead is ready for the sales team when it has been qualified according to the specifications.

In inbound marketing, marketing and sales define parameters that are used to assess the leads. It is a key task of marketing to identify promising leads and qualify them further from MQL to SQL. The following parameters are used for qualification:

Level of Interest

The customer's interest in your services or products is a decisive factor in whether the lead becomes a customer. Marketing recognizes the intensity of interest by the frequency of website visits, the length of stay, and the download activities.

Level of Qualification

The characteristics of the buyer personas are closely scrutinized and qualified. However, it is extremely important to consider the qualification characteristics from both a marketing and a sales perspective.

From Lead Scoring to Qualified Leads

Leads are evaluated according to activities and characteristics using a points system. This makes the qualification of leads transparent for both teams. The scoring system allows a clear distinction to be made as to which characteristics make a lead suitable for passing on to the sales department.

In this article, we show you how to collect relevant customer data to identify qualified leads.

What Problems Occur in the Lead Handover?

There can be various reasons why a handover from marketing to sales often fails in practice. We will go into the 5 most common ones in more detail below.

Reason 1: The Lead is Passed on to Sales too Early

If the marketing team does not take the right approach to lead generation and passes on unqualified leads, the sales team's sales efforts come to nothing. The lack of willingness to buy on the part of the leads passed on leads to frustration and dissatisfaction between the departments. 

In this context, make sure that you give the sales team as much information as possible about each lead. The better the customer approach, the more positive the purchasing process will be for the customer.

Reason 2: Marketing and Sales are Not Pulling in the Same Direction

Only coordinated processes ultimately lead to the successful conclusion of a contract and offer the customer a smooth buyer journey.

In practice, however, there are often different prioritizations in the work process, which is why sales and marketing alignment is so important.

Reason 3: The Lead Does Not End Up with the Right Sales Employee

The process flow must not be slowed down when handing over the lead. The flow is only maintained if the lead ends up with an employee who has a track record with similar customers and is also readily available.

Reason 4: The handover process is not clearly defined

The responsibility and participation in the process of both teams is not sufficiently clarified. As a result, leads are processed twice or even forgotten. A precise definition of the process minimizes the likelihood of making mistakes while increasing efficiency at the same time.

Reason 5: Different Goals and Urgency

The sales team is measured by its turnover, while marketing is usually evaluated by the volume of work, e.g., the amount of leads won through lead generation.

Sales staff therefore have little patience for wasting their time on unqualified leads. Common goals can help to counteract this problem and develop a better sales strategy.

Tips for a Perfect Marketing-to-Sales Handover

To offer customers an optimal buyer journey, effective sales and marketing alignment is essential. What opportunities are there to improve collaboration between marketing and sales?

Sales and Marketing Alignment: Teamwork for a Common Goal

The first step to success is for the departments to jointly take on lead management, including customer care, and use marketing automation analyses.

Processes are coordinated together and targets and corresponding KPIs are defined. Also, buyer persona profiles are defined and SQLs determined through teamwork. Efficient communication rounds off the marketing sales workflow.

Important criteria that you must observe to ensure a successful handover:

  • The quality of the lead determines when it is handed over to the sales team.

  • It must be precisely defined which sales employee receives which qualified leads.

  • Fast follow-up by the sales team must be guaranteed.

  • Both departments should work in sync and be aware of the sales targets to be achieved.

  • Marketing receives qualified feedback from Sales on the quality of the leads generated.

Increase the Effectiveness of the Sales Team with Sales Enablement

With sales enablement, sales teams are guided, trained, and equipped with information to effectively approach potential buyers.

The sales enablement analysis not only provide the sales team but also you as a marketer, with reliable data to optimize the workflow and increase the company's turnover.

The Advantages for Everyone Involved are Obvious:

  • A strategy is developed together with the teams to keep pace with the lead's needs.

  • The sales process is analyzed in detail and coordinated with the teams involved.

  • Sales enablement makes salespeople more efficient and has a positive impact on the company's turnover.

Conclusion: Marketing and Sales are in the Same Boat!

Marketing and sales have different challenges, and the departments also set different priorities for the marketing and sales strategy.

However, the key to the company's success is smooth cooperation between the two teams - in other words, sales and marketing alignment.

It is important to nurture the leads together and to analyze the conditions of the sales handover precisely to identify sources of error and poor-quality leads.

The exchange of information is a high priority when the teams work together.

A transparent workflow with marketing and sales automation ensures an efficient work process, success, more sales, and ultimately a good atmosphere in both teams.