Ashley Zeckman

Want Better Leads? 7 Tips to Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment


There is often a struggle between sales teams and marketing teams to prove who is most valuable. However, when marketing and sales combine their efforts, that is when they can be the most effective and powerful.

Recent research has found that nearly 60% of the sales cycle completed before prospects even speaking to a salesperson. That means, now more than ever, marketing has become an even more integral part of the sales process.

Below are some tips to help sales and marketing teams collaborate in a meaningful way that meets both business objectives and marketing KPIs.

#1 – Communicate Well & Often

One of the biggest causes of misalignment between departments is infrequent communication. Some simple ways to begin collaborating more frequently include:

  • Meet monthly to review lead quality.
  • Encourage the sales team to share questions, feedback, requests that they receive from prospects and utilize that information for marketing intiatives.
  • Have the marketing team participate (silently) in a few sales calls. It may spark something they didn’t consider previously.

#2 – Set & Align Goals & Objectives

Teams that operate independently are far less likely to be successful. Instead work together to align business objectives with marketing goals and determine a set set of metrics and criteria that will be used for reporting.

#4 – Optimize For the Customer Sales Cycle

Digital marketing can be an incredibly useful tool in helping to move prospects through the sales cycle. Today’s buyers are savvy and spend time self-educating on the web. In order to best meet their needs, marketers need to create integrated digital strategies that account for the following phases:

  • Attract: These tactics and topics will draw the prospect in.
  • Engage: Here you will begin to build credibility and loyalty.
  • Convert: When the need is present, you will be top of mind.

While you do want to create a strategy that is well optimized for search engines, your first priority should always be to optimize for customers.

#4 – Collect, Analyze & Act on Data

The truth is, data doesn’t lie. It can be easy for sales and marketing teams alike to have a bias for a particular process, topic or initiative. If both teams are relying on the same set of data then it will remove barriers that may cause tension.

Review the data as a team and determine:

  • Did the marketing initiatives create a conversion?
  • What path are prospects taking to contact?
  • Which tactics and strategies are performing well and which ones need to be altered?

#5 – Create Mutual Accountability

Sales teams are often given sales metrics for success, as well as benchmarks that need to be achieved each month. Similarly, the marketing team should have a certain standard that is maintained and goals for growth.

When the two teams work together, both will be better informed and have an increased chance of success.

#6 – Nurture Leads

The amount of effort that goes into marketing and sales departments generating leads is no small task. However, what are you doing to nurture these leads once they’ve converted in some way (newsletter subscription, asset download, contact form, etc.)?

Always know what you hope to achieve before embarking on any digital marketing initiative. This will help all parties understand what is expected as well as the business goals that these campaigns help support.

#7 – Bring In Reinforcements

Sometimes you may not have the manpower or expertise in-house to accomplish complete sales and marketing alignment. When that happens, consider engaging a company like TopRank Marketing to help develop an integrated digital marketing strategy that aligns with business objectives and marketing KPI’s.

While this post may only scratch the surface for some, hopefully it helps you understand the necessity for alignment between sales and marketing, and how it ultimately impacts business objectives. As a sales or marketing person, what have you found to be the biggest benefit to aligning with your counterparts?

Image via Shutterstock

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Senior Director of Digital Strategy for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.


  1. Great post Ashley. A lot of solid, actionable tips and a few that I need to improve after review.

    Two tactics that I have found help bring sales and marketing closer together are:

    1. Allow the sales team to participate in content generation. I do this by asking them to write guest posts for our blog on topics in our niche. It helps them to become more submerged in the strategy behind using the blogs to create leads and sales and also give them an appreciation of the work it takes to create a quality post.

    2. Get the sales team actively involved in sharing content through their social channels (if they don’t have a social presence, help them set one up). I have found this helps them become more vested in generating leads.

    Thank you again for all of the advice!

    • Hi John,

      Both awesome ideas! For people within the organization that aren’t used to creating content you can always find unique ways to draw that information out of them. That could mean shadowing them on the job, conducting an interview or emailing them short questions to get the information you’re looking for.

      Glad that you enjoyed the post!

  2. Thanks, Ashley, for sharing this post!
    Perhaps, wouldn’t call these the newest suggestions, but useful and true for sure! Experienced all of them, but the most desperate problem is data collection. In fact, until I found an unexpected solution with pop-up lead gen tool provided by Picreel .com. It allows to target invitations to share emails. Thanks for sharing great article.

  3. For me, I guess it is important for both departments (sales and marketing team) to have a strong bond and an open communication. Understanding what the other team does and vice versa will somewhat help to achieve this alignment. Most importantly is that they have a common vision while also experiencing individual success to motivate them.

  4. Avatar Sampath Mallidi says

    Hi Ashley -This is a brilliant article – When Marketing and Sales can move beyond their differences and align to work in tandem, they have the ability to increase the revenue cycle while cutting the cost of doing business at the same time. Most companies spend 30-40% of their revenue on Sales and Marketing. If these two sides of the same coin coordinate activities and better align themselves, they can optimize what their company spends on them.