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Sales and Marketing Alignment With Ryan Reisert

When marketing and sales don’t work well together, it's like trying to swim upstream with a weight tied to your ankle.

You might be able to keep swimming, but it's going to take a lot longer.

Misalignment can cost an organisation an average of 10% of its revenue per year.

The better aligned these two functions are, the more streamlined and effective the process can be. Wasting fewer resources.

But these two teams aren’t always set up for success. Silos emerge, communication breaks down and this hinders the performance of both teams.

Both of these teams have the same goal. To drive revenue. So to split them up and separate them doesn’t make sense.

So what can we do to ensure a good marketing and sales alignment? We asked none other than our resident expert, Ryan Reisert. Check out what he told us below. 👇

What is sales and marketing alignment?

What does it really mean to have marketing and sales in alignment?

In an ideal world, they’d…

  • Share strong lines of communication
  • Drive towards the same company goals
  • Action different activities within the same overall strategy

In other words, they’d be a single unified team with two functions, moving hand in hand. But this is not always the case at some companies. Where the two teams are closed off from one another and compete against each other in secrecy.

B2B marketing and sales alignment has become more important in an era when consumers are savvy and easily spooked. Brand perception and user experience are big deciding factors in whether consumers choose you or a competitor.

Having marketing and sales working as one allows for a smoother customer journey, alongside a number of other benefits, such as:

  • Less wasted time
  • Better quality customers
  • Patching up the leaky bucket for a more efficient funnel
  • Shortened sales cycles

There are many ways in which marketing can benefit the sales funnel, and sales can benefit the marketing funnel - but only if properly executed.

For example, marketing helps to warm up and nurture prospects. They do this by producing content to educate and engage with customers. This increases brand awareness and piques customer interest which can be passed onto sales later.

What about sales?

They’re talking with customers every day; they have so much valuable information they can feedback to marketing. What do these personas care about? What are they looking for? What challenges do they face? And what messaging resonates with them?

Ryan provides another example:

“If sales have a segment of their list that they don’t have contact details for, then marketing can help. They can run ads and distribute content to get those prospects aware of the business.”

By sharing information and working as one aligned team, marketing and sales can make life much easier for one another.

How do you know if you’re not aligned?

Not sure if your B2B sales and SaaS marketing teams are aligned or not?

Here are the warning signs that you’re not working well together:

  • Marketing and sales don’t know what the other is working on, or working towards. What are the goals and what’s being done to reach them?
  • Sales are complaining that the leads coming from inbound don’t understand what the product is or does.
  • A low conversion rate of MQLs to SQLs.
  • An unhealthy level of competition between marketing and sales for performance metrics.
  • Sales are ignoring leads coming from marketing (according to marketing stats, this figure could be as high as 50% of marketing leads ignored by sales when the teams are misaligned - eeeek!) 🙊

The marketing and sales funnels

Consider the traditional marketing and sales funnels.

Traditional sales and marketing funnel infographic

In this example scenario, an MQL is fed through the funnel from the website, and is now in the consideration phase. This is when this MQL is passed over to sales to qualify.

Even in an aligned business, there will likely be reasons why not all MQLs are able to be qualified. But the less aligned sales and marketing are, the more likely the leads coming through the funnel don’t result in SQLs and deals.

Ryan says:

“MQLs might be thrown out at this stage because of mistargeting, wrong timing or mismatched messaging.”

“For example, it could be someone from the right target account, but it’s an intern who’s just trying to build their business acumen with some research.”

“Or maybe it’s the right kind of company, the right kind of title, but they’re just kicking the tires. They’re not ready to make any decisions just now, as they’re just exploring the subject.” 

Arguably, the worst-case scenario is that marketing and sales are so misaligned that the messaging at the top of the funnel doesn't properly represent what the company actually does.

This only leads to wasted time for both parties.

In each of these examples, the MQL wouldn’t transfer into an SQL, so there’s no opportunity for revenue.

This isn't the sole responsibility of the marketing team to get right. 

The same concept of reaching the right person, with the right message, at the right time, on the right channel exists for SDRs too.

While marketing is raising brand awareness and generating interest on one side, sales are doing it too. 

They’re reaching out to un-contacted leads and are working them over the phone, over social channels, or by email. Often all three.

Sales marketing alignment funnel

Once they’ve identified they are speaking to someone who fits their ICP, they can prioritise this prospect. And nurture them into booking a meeting.

But if an SDRs goal is just trying to reach their target of meeting booked, they may push through wrong-fit accounts. Or they may exhaust their list with uncreative and impersonal messaging. 

The magic really starts to happen if you abandon the focus on marketing producing MQLs for sales to turn into SQLs.

Instead, look at how both teams can generate more conversations with the right people in the consideration phase. 

Sales Conversation Funnel

That’s the winning zone for both marketing and sales teams. These are the people who sales and marketing can make the biggest impact on.

Want to learn more about the sales and marketing funnels? Click to watch the video below!

Ryan says:

“Hey marketing, we need you to go create awareness, hey sales, your job isn’t about making the sale, it’s about having lots of conversations.”

“But the most important thing to remember here is that the list is the strategy.”

“That is the most important place for both sales and marketing teams to be aligned, and it’s the area most people have problems with.”

It makes sense - most people will assume that by going broad, you have a bigger market and can make more revenue. No one wants to miss out on opportunities. But actually, this can waste a lot of time and other precious resources.

Ryan says:

“This is where the fight comes, every time. Because by going broad, you have more of these MQLs who can’t be qualified as SQLs through the funnel.”

“If marketing knows exactly who sales wants to talk to, then they can only pass on those leads who fit the criteria.”

Instead, sales and marketing should decide who they actually want to do business with. They need to work out who’s their ICP and then fixate on those targets.

This also means being disciplined when it comes to who you choose to do business with.

Ryan adds:

“If your list is your strategy, then someone who isn’t on your list is a waste of time to go after. I won’t spend time and money marketing or outreaching to people who don’t fit my criteria.”

“I’ve seen companies who are approached by big businesses, wanting to do work with them, but they don’t fit into their ICP. They fall head over heels trying to make themselves fit. Changing their entire methodology to try to make it work.”

‘We don’t want to miss this opportunity to work with them’.

“But it’s too bad, they don’t fit your ICP, so you can’t help them. Doing that can kill your business. If you’re not on my list, I can’t help you.”

The idea here is that marketing and sales come together to choose who they want to target. Then it’s about staying in your lane, understanding the customer and nailing your niche.

That’s where alignment happens.

How to get aligned

The answer = communication, communication, communication!

Most companies would prefer to have alignment, yet so few do this process well.


Because it’s not easy. We’re all human and communication can be a tricky undertaking. But there are things you can do to make sure you set yourself up for success.

It might sound obvious, but regular communication is key to smooth alignment.

While sales and marketing are two separate functions, they should have regular check-ins.

A good sales/marketing alignment meeting will cover things like:

  • Ideas for campaigns, content or other pipeline driving activities.
  • Goals and strategic directions.
  • Changing resource allocation or capacity.
  • Delving into performance metrics and other reporting.
  • Optimising processes and ways to cross-collaborate.
  • Discussing market or customer persona changes.
  • Other brainstorming or problem-solving.

Everyone in marketing and sales should know who’s doing what and who’s responsible for each stage of the process.

That’s not to say that adaptations can’t be made as time goes on.

Ryan explains:

“There should be a process for a feedback loop on how the success of the strategic list is performing. Marketing and sales can realign themselves with goals as time goes on.”

Cognism CMO, Alice de Courcy outlines the practical steps she implemented when trying to bring about sales and marketing alignment.

What happens when sales and marketing are aligned?

The truth is, you could see lots of improvements, in areas such as company culture, messaging and adaptability to change.

Plus, marketing and sales can run successful ABM campaigns together. 

You might also see some other attractive outcomes - take a look at these alignment stats! 👇

There’s so much to play for when you align sales and marketing. Follow Ryan’s advice to get started today!

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