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Lead Alignment: The Key to Sales Success

Sinead Conboy

When it comes to sales success, one of the biggest obstacles is misalignment between marketing and sales teams. Marketing teams often focus or only have budget to generate MQIs and MQLs from typical strategies such as content downloads or email campaigns, and while these are valuable activities to quickly generate pipeline, if done in a silo without proper follow-up, or even a conversation between sales ad marketing, sales teams can become frustrated from receiving leads that are not sales ready. They have a quota to hit after all!

Ultimately both teams have the same goal – to support initiatives that attract and retain loyal customers to the business. However, conflicting day-to-day goals and KPIs can cause tension, where marketing may feel their work is undervalued and sales don’t see the full worth of marketing’s activities. This misalignment can be complicated even further when a third-party agency is brought in to support lead generation efforts.

Lead alignment is not just alignment between sales and marketing teams goals, but it is also a process of determining exactly where a lead falls in the sales funnel and how it should be followed-up by marketing, sales, and any third-party stakeholder.

The biggest barriers to sales and marketing alignment:

There are many challenges when trying to align across marketing, sales, and out-sourced agencies such as:

  1. Unclear communication:
    Poor communication between sales and marketing is undoubtedly the biggest obstacle to lead alignment. When turning to an agency to aid with lead generation, marketing may choose to buy opt-ins, MQIs, MQLs and so on, but on the other hand sales may be expecting sales ready leads. Manage expectations early. MQI and MQLs, are first contact without any personalised nurturing. One seldom gets married on a first date and MQIs and MQLs tend to convert as SRLs between 0.2 and 0.6%
  2. Different Objectives:
    Misaligned goals between sales and marketing can further hinder overall business success. Sales teams may prioritize short-term revenue generation, while marketing teams focus on long-term brand building. This misalignment can lead to conflicting strategies and a lack of cohesion in campaigns. To address this barrier, organizations must foster a culture of shared objectives. This involves creating a unified vision that aligns both sales and marketing goals with the overarching business strategy.
  3. Siloed processes and systems:
    Although sales and marketing are natural partners, they often work in siloes due to unclear communication and different objectives, which can be detrimental to the company’s bottom line. This lack of integration can lead to duplicated work and a fragmented customer experience which can affect overall conversion rates.    
  4. Poor handovers between marketing and sales:
    The transition of leads from marketing to sales is a critical juncture in the customer acquisition process. Poorly managed handoffs can result in lost opportunities, as valuable information may not be effectively conveyed between the two teams. This challenge may stem from inadequate lead qualification processes, insufficient communication protocols, or a lack of shared understanding regarding the criteria for a sales-ready lead.

How to overcome lead alignment challenges:

  1. Align expectations:
    It is important to define expectations from the very start of a lead generation strategy, especially when working with a 3rd party agency. What type of leads will sales receive – MQLs or SRLs? Who will be expected to nurture leads who are not sales ready?
  2. Set common goals:
    While day-to-day goals may vary between teams, sales, marketing, and any outsourced teams need to have overarching goals. By aligning individual and team objectives, you can foster a sense of unity which promotes collaboration.
  3. Define workflows:
    Lead alignment challenges can arise due to uncertainties in processes and workflows. It is essential to define and document clear workflows that outline the sequence of tasks, and responsibilities, to know who owns what task and the larger context of a strategy. Well-defined workflows streamline operations, reduce friction, and enhance coordination, making it easier for team heads to align their efforts seamlessly.
  4. Create standardized handover procedures:
    In order for sales to efficiently convert marketing generated leads to closed revenue, a defined handover system is pivotal. For example, BNZSA’s approach is our trademarked Warm Handover; a three-way call between our BDR, a sales rep from our client, and the prospect.
  5. Share frequent feedback:
    Maintaining an open stream of feedback on the insights that sales gain from interactions with prospects that have been handed over from marketing as this will allow marketing to adjust strategy, target, or messaging as needed to optimise their outreach and lead generation.  

Lead alignment in BNZSA:

As an agency designed to support both marketing and sales for leading IT companies, lead alignment is crucial to ensuring our client’s success. To achieve this, as part of our campaign onboarding process we include a call between key stakeholders – The Project Manager and Sales Coach assigned to the campaign on our side, and both the sales and marketing team from our client. This ensures everyone is aligned on key points such as ICP, USP of the product or service and KPIs from the very start of the campaign.

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