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Sales and Marketing Alignment
By: Todd Feldman
Founder & President
Rocket Factory
In December 2021, Harvard Business Review published an article saying that 90% of sales and marketing professionals say they’re misaligned. The post went on to peg the cost of marketing and sales misalignment to businesses at over $1 trillion.

One of the very first questions I seek the answer to when working with a new client is if Sales and Marketing functions are together, separate, and have a shared comp plan.

If they’re not working closely together and being compensated to do so, then that’s a huge area of opportunity for the client.

It also speaks to culture, role clarity, marketing and sales maturity, and how the organization views performance overall.

How’d we get here?

For starters, the American Marketing Association (AMA) hasn’t helped much. The definition of Marketing has not gone through a review in five years. Approved in 2017 the current definition is:
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Back in 2017, it didn’t accurately define marketing’s role then and it certainly doesn’t portray the role it plays in a “post”-pandemic economy.

Here’s why…

The AMA definition lacks specificity and doesn’t go far enough to call out the need for performance. It may very well be why this lack of specificity creates confusing role clarity when CEOs are looking to hire their marketing leads.

It’s 2022 and it’s time to declare the following two points:
  • Marketing not directly connected to Sales is expensive and time-consuming.
  • Sales not directly connected to Marketing is expensive and time-consuming.
I think a majority of people would agree with each of these statements. What is lacking is the comprehension of how critical this is to operationalize what this means.

If I were to redefine Marketing it would be:
A set of specialized activities that identify qualified prospects and engage customers so Sales can efficiently sell more shit more often.
Marketing Systems
Simplified overview of B2B and B2C Marketing and Sales Systems

Let’s break down this definition:

“A set of highly specialized activities…”
The marketing ecosystem has become extremely complex over time. With complexity also comes the need for highly specialized roles led by a leader that understands how to leverage and orchestrate each discipline programmatically through significant rigor for optimization.


Marketing complexity
Credit: Gartner
“…that identify qualified prospects…”
The key part of this is the word “qualified.” The only REAL way to know if marketing is delivering qualified leads is by working closely (or as one) with Sales. Rigor gets wrapped around qualifying the lead and then validating what’s converting at defined sales value. 

Working in tandem, with the right leadership, the conversations that take place through close management of defined metrics here can be highly impactful in the optimization of marketing and sales activities.

“…and engage customers…”
Marketing has a shared responsibility with sales to engage existing customers through a different set of highly specialized activities and with the goal of increasing customer lifetime value.

“…so Sales can efficiently sell more shit more often.”
I oftentimes will say marketing’s role is to “plow the road” for sales. It’s a whole lot easier to drive on a snow-covered road that’s been plowed, right? By working together, marketing and sales can closely optimize the process of engaging and selling to prospects and customers. The more time spent collaborating the more predictable investments become.

Picture a request for additional marketing investment with your CFO. If sales and marketing can prove that they spent $1.00 on marketing and it returned $3.00 in sales, then they should be able to test what would happen if they were to increase the investment to $1.50.

While this blog post only covers the need to integrate sales and marketing, there’s the need to closely weigh and optimize other organizational functions that would be required in order to serve more demand.

It’s 2022. Silos and fiefdoms no longer serve the greater good (they never really did). To operate at the speed at which customer and employee needs change, the integration of key business functions that have long been managed the same way can no longer be ignored.