By Rebecca Bell Ellis

You’re required by law to have a smoke alarm in your home. That’s because fires can and do spread quickly. Having an early warning system can make the difference between life and death. We have smoke detectors instead of fire detectors because smoke goes hand-in-hand with fire. Of course, that’s why we say, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

What if I told you that something dangerous is billowing up inside your organization and it’s also a killer—a revenue killer? You’d want some sort of warning so you could avoid disaster. Well, we have just such a revenue-killer “detector.” It’s free, and it takes just a minute to test for danger.

Read on (and take this test) to see how you can keep your profitable revenue from going up in smoke.

Revenue-killer detector test:



My CMO and CRO are required to present a joint plan and to provide regular updates on our mutually defined revenue KPIs.
In the hallway and informal gatherings, my Marketing and Sales team members exchange jokes and accolades; in other words, they get along and feel they’re part of the same team.                
Both Marketing and Sales are rewarded when a joint revenue goal is met. It’s considered a win for all.               

If you answered YES to all 3 questions, consider yourself safe. If you answered NO to even one question, beware. We have detected clear signs of Sales and Marketing misalignment which can be potentially lethal to revenue.

If we’ve detected danger ahead, you should read on to assess the degree of danger and the urgency for change.

Why is “Alignment” an early warning system?

After many corporate consultations, Wheelhouse Advisors, a strategic marketing services company, recently declared, “The rivalry between Sales and Marketing teams is possibly the most uncalled for rift in the business world, for the simple fact that their goals are so similar! It doesn’t make any sense for these teams to be at loggerheads when their alignment has been proven, time and time again, to improve business processes. ” You can download an Infographic: How to Align…to Boost Revenue compiled and created by Wheelhouse Advisors to learn some startling facts on the topic.

A summary of the dangers

Lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budget are the costly results of misalignment.

Marketing budget becomes ineffective due to inefficiency. Misalignment causes Marketing and Sales teams to not understand each other’s needs. Instead of working together, they work single-handedly. As a result, the budget spent on generating wonderful marketing content is often ignored by Sales (if they can even find it), and salespeople are left to chase poorly qualified or cold leads without enough current information about new products, services, or promotions.

Low productivity: When Sales and Marketing teams don’t work in harmony with one another their productivity always suffers, even when they think it doesn’t. It may appear as though the marketing team is being super productive, however, the fact that they send leads directly to Sales without some form of scoring or qualification means leads are often not “Sales-ready,” and therefore not of value to Sales. In turn, Sales teams ignore most of the leads Marketing sends them because they don’t consider them to be of a high-enough quality.

Declining close rates: It’s kind of a catch twenty-two situation, because if Sales doesn’t offer feedback to Marketing on what’s working and what’s not, they will never get the right leads and productivity will be hampered, leading to decreased Sales close rates and ROI. Aligning the two teams would solve these problems instantly.

Lack of lead conversions. The main reason for this is lack of lead nurturing by marketing. Best practice is for Marketing to score the leads and determine their value as: a) qualified for sales, b) ready for nurturing or c) disqualified. When this qualification doesn’t happen, it’s because Marketing is eager to deliver leads and so they indiscriminately pass leads on to their sales team. The resulting outcome is that a high percentage of leads generated by Marketing receive minimal follow up and do not convert into sales. Obviously this scenario means that the time and effort spent on generating these leads is ultimately wasted. When Marketing and Sales agree upon lead scoring, conversion rates will improve.

How Can You Extinguish the Fire?

Unify and motivate your Sales and Marketing Leaders with shared KPIs.

Two simple, clear metrics will work. The first one is related to customers; the second one is related to profitable revenue.

  1. Create a Customer Lifecycle Accountability Matrix. This will crystalize your team’s mission through accountability.   Share this example with your leaders, “Gleanster and Act-on report: Rethinking the Role of Marketing,” pg 21.

  2. Establish quality revenue measures for acquisition of new—versus existing—customers. New customers are often less profitable because there is a high-cost of acquisition. Conversely, retaining and expanding business with existing customers is often the most profitable type of revenue growth. Your CFO can work with your CMO and CRO to determine the mix and the corresponding, overall single KPI which will reflect the best composition. For more examples and explanation, check out the eBook co-written by Aaron Ross of Predictable Revenue Inc. and Zorian Rotenberg and Mike Baker of InsightSquared, “Key Metrics for Seeds, Nets and Spears” or “CEO’s Guide to Sales and Marketing KPIs,” by Zorian Rotenberg and Kim Lindquist.

Your CMO, CRO, and their staff will likely welcome your directive and executive support. Should there be some push back, you may find the most efficient way to erase any disrespect or disagreement is to engage a third party consulting firm such as Covalent Marketing End to end Mastery, BlueWolf’s Business Consulting Blueprint, or Wheelhouse Advisors Strategic Services (whose infographic inspired this post). My tip is to find a consultancy who is savvy about enabling technology and has expertise with Sales and Marketing best practices.

What tips can you share with fellow CEOs, CSOs and CMOs on alignment? Is it better to engage a consultancy or tackle this internally?