How Demand Generation Enables Sales and Marketing Alignment


Marketing and sales teams have historically remained siloed in most businesses. The main reason for this being the differences in how each team generates revenue. Thankfully, as businesses look to bridge the gap between both departments, the role of demand generation popped up, creating a stronger alignment between goals. How are the goals aligned? This article will cover the “why,” the “how,” and “what next” behind demand generation and sales and marketing alignment. 

Why Sales and Marketing Teams Aren’t Aligned  

It’s safe to say that sales and marketing communicating on a regular basis is crucial to the success of your brand. Businesses that strive to enable regular cross-department engagement often see much higher revenue than those that don’t. If the idea of alignment is so important, then why doesn’t everyone try to achieve it? The short answer: a difference in goals.  

The sales team is focused on generating profitable opportunities through direct outreach to prospective clients. This process often means that the salesperson is on the phone, meeting face-to-face, and crafting personal emails with the hopes of moving the needle closer toward a sale. On the flip side, the marketing team works toward generating and nurturing leads through an inbound and outbound strategy—balancing both brand awareness and product information.  

When you really look at how both teams approach customer engagement, the goal remains the same; generate revenue. However, a sales leader sees the marketing team as a bottleneck in the process, usually concerned with the speed of the lead generation process. Marketing generally sees sales reps as potential for wasted revenue and lacks confidence in their follow-up process. Same goals, different approach.  

The Demand Generation Process 

A major challenge in the sales and marketing alignment process is the fact that sales often complains about the quality of leads. If your marketing team is solely focused on generating leads from the database, with little segmentation, then yes, their quality is probably questionable. This is why demand generation is so important to B2B marketers.  

Demand generation is the process of utilizing multiple marketing channels to build awareness around specific capabilities of products and how they address buyers’ needs. The end result of most demand generation programs is lead generation, however, that’s typically a byproduct of the strategy being utilized. In reality, a successful demand-focused marketer will look to engage their buyers at different points of the marketing funnel, with a variety of content, and accelerate the revenue pipeline. At its core, demand generation drives opportunities from customer segmentation and personalization.  

How Demand Generation Bridges the Gap

As we discussed, the main issue with sales and marketing alignment is the difference in how both teams approach shared goals. The biggest challenge of how those goals are met centers around the quality of sales leads, vs the quantity of sales leads. Yes, most sales leaders would love an infinite supply of high-quality leads, but that’s not always a possibility. Rather, a solid demand generation strategy will create a consistent pipeline of leads that match what the sales team is looking for.

As the marketing campaigns evolve, sales leaders now have a direct view into how the leads were generated, and what needs the leads might have. At the same time, marketers can adjust their demand generation strategy based on sales feedback, creating an improved line of communication. 

Here are a few ways you can help create transparency and support for both the sales and marketing team:  

  • Partner with sales throughout the funnel: Drive leads from the top of the funnel all the way through to closing the pipeline. 
  • Agree on the targeted list to influence programs: Knowing more about the prospect helps set the salesperson up for success. 
  • Ensure solid communication during the handoff process: Give a clear understanding of programs and what the prospect engaged with to make sure the salesperson is prepared when engaging with the prospect. 

Best Practices for Marketing and Sales Alignment 

So, now that we’ve covered why sales and marketing teams are misaligned and how demand generation might fix some of those issues, what does true alignment look like in practice?  

Depending on how your teams are comprised, the way you approach the alignment of goals can differ. However, here are some easy-to-follow best practices every business can use:  

Ensure Marketing and Sales Track the Same KPIs

This can be an unnerving idea, but it’s worth noting that sales teams who share goals tend to increase revenue by at least 54% according to our benchmark report.

Create a Marketing-Sales Scorecard 

A simple yet overlooked outlet; a scorecard reflecting the sales and marketing pipeline can really help bring both teams together.  

Weekly Joint Meetings

Inviting your counterparts into a joint meeting can help improve the conversation. Simply sharing your challenges and successes with each other creates empathy and understanding between teams.  

Establish a Lead Development Team

A great way to help the sales team have trust in your leads is to hand someone the sole task of developing and enriching each lead that is generated.  

Establish a Data Management Plan

As a sales leader, showing your marketing team that you have a plan to not only manage the data they provide you, but also utilize it, can be helpful.  

Keep Talking

Whether it’s over Zoom, or a simple email to check in, reaching out to your cross-department coworkers can help improve alignment and create a sense of togetherness when working towards goals.  

What Happens Next? 

The conversation doesn’t have to stop with these best practices. In fact, it’s worth your time to reach out to the other team and ask how they’d approach this challenge. The reality is that there’s not really a concrete practice put in place for sales and marketing alignment. However, by focusing on a fluid demand generation strategy, both sales and marketing can help each other to learn how to support those shared goals. If you’re able to evolve your standard lead generation into a stream of quality data and lead enrichment, chances are both sales and marketing teams will be a lot happier, resulting in better ROI for everyone.  

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our benchmark report on sales and marketing alignment!