Marriage is between one sales and one marketing team

By Sergei Arend | Published on Mar 6, 2023

The world of work is shifting (when isn’t it?), but it’s not all four-day work weeks and compassionate leave for consultations at the pet dentist. 

Silos are over. They’ve been over. This method of working — where each B2B department is an island that communicates with others mostly through a single, simple channel — is so old that Leonardo Dicaprio’s no longer interested in it.

B2B marketing creates “captivating content”, generates leads, passes them onto sales, and forgets about them. Sales teams then urge those leads down the pipeline like an anxious kid watching his paper boat float down the river. Right?


“I have KPIs and I’m not afraid to use them”

“What is a KPI?” I hear you ask.

A KPI (or Key Performance Indicator) is a metric you set up and measure which demonstrates how well someone is achieving a key business objective. Sales teams are typically familiar with sales targets (quota, pipeline); marketing teams are familiar with things like Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Cost Per Lead (CPL).

If these two teams retain their function-specific KPIs exclusively, then the walls between their functions – the silos – will remain. In B2B, it’s entirely possible that marketing could think they’re doing a good job because they’re hitting their KPIs, but the sales teams are struggling to push leads down the funnel and close deals. And vice versa.

To illustrate this, imagine a B2B marketing team puts together a hip, young ad campaign promoting a new feature on their platform. The impressions (i.e., number of people who saw the ad in their feed) is staggering, with a good click-through rate. The creatives and strategists are popping bottles of ethically sourced champagne and patting each other on the back.

Meanwhile, over in Sales Land, the number of deals closed hasn’t improved, despite the number of new contacts entering the funnel. In fact, these overworked, underappreciated B2B sales reps have seen a reduction in deals closed because they’re spending more time on poorly qualified leads.

What’s the solution to this?

Well, first – defining new or additional KPIs is a great way of breaking down unnecessary (sometimes even harmful) walls between B2B departments.

In the scenario above, one way in which the marketing team could have proven more effective is by having “number of SQLs” (sales qualified leads) and conversion rate as a metric. Pure impressions and click-through, even lead generation, means nothing if your B2B sales reps are talking to the wrong people.

Another shared metric between the two could be revenue generated from specific B2B ad campaigns. 

Let’s suppose the marketing campaign above targeted IT businesses of all sizes in a specific region. This shared metric between marketing and sales then revealed that little to no leads from companies with more than 50 employees were as ready to buy as the sales team would have liked – guess what? They can now adjust their targeting, double-down on smaller companies (with more targeted messaging), and ensure that the funnel is filled with more qualified leads. 

Revenue, revenue, revenue – it ultimately guides everything. If a specific action doesn’t have a positive impact on the bottom line, it’s hard to justify popping that champagne. 

“Money can’t buy happiness; money is happiness”

This quote from Alec Baldwin’s beloved asshole character Jack Donaghy from the TV show “30 Rock” might be a bit extreme – even for some of the most capital-worshiping readers out there – but there’s still some wisdom in it.

If you’ve been keeping up with the news (or listening to your Aunt Dolores talk about her Facebook feed), you’ll know that some people are talking about market fluctuations. 

Whether or not this will lead to a recession is up for debate, but the reality is that companies are focused on cutting out everything that doesn’t generate revenue.

If we take “happiness” to mean “meeting key business objectives” as a business, then yes, money is happiness.

Your sales reps are arguably frontline marketers. Where some companies do well enough by having a B2B marketing function that communicates more-or-less regularly with their sales team, letting them know what content has gone out etc. – this isn’t enough.

Really successful companies will have B2B sales and marketing functions that are almost indistinguishable from each other. If sales is the spy in high-tec gear dropping in from the ceiling Mission Impossible-style, then marketing is the “eye in the sky”, tap-tap-tapping away at the computer and feeding real-time instructions into the spy’s ear.

Here’s a list of some metrics to consider measuring – use these as a jumping-off point and create your own KPIs that break down silos and join your B2B sales and marketing functions in holy matrimony:

  • At each stage of your sales funnel, what is the ratio of opportunities to closed deals?
  • Revenue from content – what is the actual ROI of your marketing efforts? How many deals did your content bring in?
  • How much time do your sales reps actually spend selling? Combine this with content analytics, and you could reduce the time spent on activities that less-directly impact revenue.
  • Where are your drops in conversion rate? By spotting these at different points of the funnel, you’ll not only be able to address your sales reps’ weaknesses, but also allow the marketing team to optimize their content.

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