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How to Fix the Lack of Sales and Marketing Alignment in Your Business

Sales and marketing

The lack of alignment between sales and marketing within businesses is a problem that has held back organizations of all sizes and across many industries. Collectively, that costs companies more than $1 trillion in lost business, according to HubSpot.

Partner businesses are no exception, according to Angela Leavitt, founder and CEO of Mojenta, a marketing agency with a focused client base of B2B telecom, IT, cloud services and SaaS companies. While many organizations run sales and marketing separately, Leavitt early in her career discovered the need to bring them together.

Leavitt will share how she has experienced firsthand the benefits of aligning sales and marketing at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Nov. 1-4. During her session, “The 7 Deadly Sins of Sales & Marketing Alignment and How to Fix Them,” Nov. 3, Leavitt will explain the problems caused by the disconnect and the benefits of bringing them together.

In advance of the conference, Leavitt discussed some of those issues with Channel Partners.

Channel Partners: What led you into focusing on integrating sales and marketing in the B2B technology services industry?

Angela Leavitt: While I was in college, I had some sales jobs and discovered that it was easy for me. And then one of my jobs after college was with a startup. I quickly learned how to build a website, and then they needed some marketing collateral flyers and materials to send out to prospective clients. I just started taking on those activities — and I have been in marketing ever since.

CP: In those early years, what were some of your early learnings?

Mojenta's Angela Leavitt

AL: There's just so much time, effort and money wasted. HubSpot estimates that U.S. companies waste about $1 trillion a year in sales and marketing misalignment. We see it with the clients that we work with. Many of them are operating their sales and their marketing in silos. One of our clients that we've been working with for four or five years, just in the last year she was allowed to be in the sales meetings. It's just insanity to me that companies who are trying to grow – and you think most companies are trying to grow – don't have that coordinated effort to build a united front. In fact, in our company, we just call it the growth team; we don't separate sales from marketing. I think our industry has a long way to go in terms of fixing these things. And that's why I'm excited to talk about it.

CP: Are there any areas of misalignment you're seeing that are specific or common to MSPs that you can describe?

AL: Well, one of the big ones is technology. Having a platform that can track marketing and sales activity — the customer journey all the way from the very beginning through to the sale. When you have the right technology in place, then that gives you good visibility into what marketing activities are influencing or affecting that bottom line.

CP: Is that a pervasive problem?

AL: Many MSPs are hardly tracking that at all. If they are, it's done in a spreadsheet. Some of the more sophisticated ones might have disparate software like Salesforce for one thing, and then marketing is in another platform. They don't really have them integrated. That's a big thing that we see that we talk to them about.

CP: What other common issues do you find?

AL: Another one is just getting aligned on goals and definitions. Who exactly are we targeting? Who is our ideal customer? Who do we want to bring in, and who do we want to talk to? Because without those conversations, marketing is just going to say: "a lead is a lead, is a lead." And then sales will come back and say, "These are terrible leads." Get clear on what is a marketing-qualified lead. What is a sales qualified lead? At what point does sales get involved in the process? And going back to the goals with many MSPs, I'll get on the phone with clients and ask them their growth goals for the year.

CP: How do they respond?

AL: They can't really articulate it. They can't say, "Well, you know, our goal is this amount of net-new revenue and we want to grow by this percentage." They need to be able to answer questions like, how many clients they are looking to add? How many sales ready leads do they need to generate an order? If I'm their marketing team, we need to know how much activity we need to generate this many leads for you to get to your numbers. Without having those conversations and getting really clear expectations set properly, that's another place where misalignment occurs for sure.

CP: Do you have an example of how you’ve helped a client align sales and marketing?

AL: One in particular had set a very clear goal that they wanted to close seven deals a month from marketing activity that we could point to that we were doing for them. And when we first started with them, there was no marketing activity happening. And they were doing their sales in Salesforce and their marketing's in HubSpot. So we had to work on some integrations there, making sure that data was connected. We had to tune up their website a little bit, because it wasn't really telling the story very well. It wasn't very engaging for potential new customers. And then we kind of turned the engine on, and over the last quarter, they hit or exceeded those seven closed deals. And their ROI is massive.

CP: Is it often that you find that some clients are just reluctant to make those investments?

AL: For sure. Talking specifically on the MSP side, some of them don't understand the importance of a good website. We have to spend quite a bit of time with them educating them on the fact that this is a big part of the buyer's journey today. And even most referrals are still going to check out your website. Just because someone says you're a wonderful company to work with, they're still going to check out your website before they contact you, and if it looks like it was built in 1995, you're not you're not doing yourself any favors. But there are some foundational things here that need to happen first, in order for us to get there, and many of them don't have that long term mindset. They want to see an ROI immediately. And that's just not realistic.

CP: Isn't it kind of ironic, considering they're selling technology to their customers?

AL: It really is. It is honestly one of the things that puzzles me the most. They're technology consultants, but they think it's OK if their own technology piece of interacting with is really old-school. And that's something I try to bring up with them. I'll say, think about your buyer and what they're looking for. And I'll sometimes show them other MSP websites that are really cutting-edge. I'll say, "Put yourself in like a buyer’s shoes. Who are you more likely to want to engage with?"

CP: So what are some of the seven deadly sins you'll discuss in your Channel Partners Conference session?

AL: Besides what we just discussed, the misalignment in technology, I'll also be addressing misalignment of goals and definitions processes. There's another stat that HubSpot published that found 73% of leads generated are never contacted by sales. You can imagine all this time, effort and energy put into generating leads, and then there's a dropoff in that follow up? There's also this concept called "speed to lead" where the faster you follow up with the lead the more likely they are to close, and that time frame is somewhere around 5 minutes. If someone can reach out within 5 minutes, you are exponentially a lot more likely to win that business. Another one I will talk about is mutual shadowing. Salespeople don't realize that marketers are like octopuses. Their legs and fingers are going everywhere. Another is mutual understanding of each other's roles and camaraderie like mutual celebration of wins.

Channel Partners Conference & Expo, sales, channel marketing