Recently, there’s been a great LinkedIn group discussion around key considerations for successful sales and marketing alignment. Alignment seldom happens by accident or because everyone wishes it. It requires true conscious competence and a commitment by all key parties.

Over the next several posts, I’ll share an alignment checklist that I’ve created and continually refined over the years, and I’ll highlight some common alignment obstacles I’ve faced way too many times. I’ll start on the demand gen side and then shift over into sales enablement issues with the understanding, of course, that there are clearly cross over items.

By way of background, before finding my passion in marketing, I was a bag-carrying (and yes, above quota) sales rep. As a result, I started my marketing career confident I could avoid the seemly ubiquitous sales and marketing chasm. Wow, was I wrong. Maybe I did better than other marketers without sales experience, but I fell into way too many chasms and each one hurt.

What I came to realize was that no matter how hard I worked that alignment wasn’t just on my shoulders. Just as a solid marriage requires the commitment of both parties and agreement on key aspects of the relationship (take it from me, I’m certainly not a marriage expert, but think money, kids, lifestyle, etc.), I realized I needed the commitment of all key parties involved in the revenue generation process along with the list of key alignment items for us to work on.
The checklist below is a combination of the key alignment issues along with items that marketing or sales must do to prepare for the alignment and as I mentioned above, I’m starting on the demand generation side.

1. Get marketing ready by understanding the buyer persona, the buying cycle, and the competitive landscape.
2. Create a Marketing Qualified LEAD (MQL) definition.
3. Understand the MQL to sales opportunity metrics.
4. Set MQL and Marketing-Generated Sales Opportunity goals and then communicate to the team.
5. Create a closed-loop system for tracking leads from creation to win/loss. Create Sales SLAs (service level agreements) for handling MQLs.
6. Establish consistent processes for creating a Sales Opportunity.
7. Require quick, insightful feedback from sales on disqualified leads.
8. Communicate and listen to sales.
9. Help reps create their own MQLs.
10. Find out why opportunities stalled or were lost.

In future posts, I’ll expand on the checklist and share my sales enablement checklist as well. What are your experiences with sales and marketing alignment? Do you have any items to add to this list?

About the author: Jeff Whitney is a B2B software marketing executive with extensive experience  –  from early stage start ups through achieving marketing equity.   Jeff has a passion for building a world class marketing function, starting with the organization, demand generation programs, sales enablement tools and of course, aligning sales and marketing.