Sales & Marketing Alignment: My Simple Formula For Driving Revenue

June 6, 2017 6:30:05 AM | By Matt Benati

Many organizations struggle to achieve sales and marketing alignment, a key element to increasing productivity and growing revenue. I’ve discussed this topic with many leaders and they often ask me for guidance on how to best unify these teams. This article offers one framework — a simple formula — to achieve this goal.

Marketing typically drives Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), downloads, and other quantifiable metrics, while sales focuses on growing revenue. And ultimately, revenue trumps all. So when marketing throws a thousand MQLs over the wall to sales, but only two are in accounts that sales cares about, it signals a disconnect and inefficient use of resources.

How do we align these two organizations — accounts first, personas second — so both marketing and sales are focused on driving revenue?

My Sales & Marketing Alignment Formula

Most sales and marketing leaders are familiar with the concept of Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). My simple formula expands this well-known term: Ideal Customer Profile = Ideal Account Profile + Ideal Buyer Profile (ICP = IAP + IBP). I love this formula because it shows both sides of the revenue coin. But, by defining and agreeing on the profiles , and putting them together in the specific account-first-buyer-second order, sales and marketing can effectively work together to optimize productivity and focus on the only goal that really matters: growing revenue.

Breaking it out like this shows each group what the other brings to the table and that, TOGETHER, they form a stronger ICP. A clear, detailed, and unified ICP is foundation of alignment and revenue growth. Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown of this formula.

IAP – Ideal Account Profile

The first part of the formula, Ideal Account Profile is traditionally what most people think of as Ideal Customer Profile. For example, account based marketing leader, Terminus, provides a good post on this more conventional definition. Typical IAP characteristics include: industry, annual revenue, number of employees, location, technology stack, and budget.

Sales uses data to analyze each account to identify the revenue potential of each, and prioritizes accounts so they’re focused on more enterprise and whale accounts. Defining precisely where – which ideal accounts – you want your revenue to come from means working smarter on a few big accounts, not harder on many small accounts, and encourages a precision focus from sales and marketing resources.

IBP – Ideal Buyer Profile

This is traditionally what marketing brings to the table. A critical task of marketing is to define the individual personas within accounts – who the decision makers and influencers are along with their demographics, role, seniority. With today’s shifting dynamics in B2B buying decisions, it’s not uncommon to have everyday users impacting buying decisions since, ultimately, they’re the ones using the solution everyday. Pinpointing these ideal buyers within each account helps sales and marketing create assets specific to each persona, which facilitates segmentation and personalization of email campaigns and lead nurturing strategies.

Putting It All Together: ICP = IAP + IBP

An Ideal Customer Profile is a detailed description of the type of company and buyer that would find value in your product or solution. Think about your best customers. What qualifies them to be part of that elite group? What commonalities do they have? Using this information, sales and marketing teams can begin to build their ideal customer profile. If you leverage inbound marketing, the ICP helps you determine which leads are high quality — and which are not. In an account based marketing (ABM) model, the ICP defines the characteristics of your best-fit accounts.

For example, LeadGnome provides an automated reply email management solution, but our ideal customer isn’t any organization that sends emails. Our solution is ideally suited for demand generation, marketing operations, and sales development teams within B2B organizations that are mature in their use of sales and marketing automation technologies. We know that when LeadGnome is integrated with a marketing automation platform, the data can be leveraged by workflows, initiating follow-up tasks, notifying team members of trigger events, and keeping databases clean.

When sales and marketing agree on an ICP, they can work together to focus on truly ideal customers.

The Role Of Inbound In An Account-Based Model

When marketing commits to focusing on the ICP, it means changing the way they manage inbound strategies. Inbound leads will be viewed through a new filter, so that only those that match the ICP and matter to sales are qualified and passed on. Basically, their inbound campaigns will have three buckets: leads that match exactly the accounts sales is targeting, leads that match ICP but are not part of the specific named accounts, and everything else. Driving qualified leads to sales and not wasting time on “everything else” maximizes team productivity and increases sales velocity.

Beyond ABM: Account Based Revenue (ABR)

An Account Based Marketing model matches the ICP=IAP+IBP concept perfectly, and helps organizations get to the heart of aligning sales and marketing. When this alignment occurs, what you’re really practicing is an Account Based Revenue model, where every role, resource and strategy is dedicated to driving revenue from a very specific set of accounts and buyers.

LeadGnome supports an Account Based Revenue strategy through its Reply Email Management service that mines emails for sales-ready leads that convert 10-20 times better than typical leads. Ready to take your sales and marketing to the next level? Check out our free Transformative B2B Demand Generation eBook:

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