Forget Alignment, Think Synergy

November 7, 2013

By Debbie Qaqish

“Alignment” commonly is used to describe the relationship between sales and marketing. But in the context of revenue marketing, the word synergy more aptly expresses the connection. Let’s look at the definition of each term and then examine this relationship.

Alignment refers to linear or orderly arrangement, the positioning of something for proper performance, or support or alliance.

Synergy comes from the Greek synergia, meaning joint work and cooperative action. Synergy occurs when the result is greater than the sum of the parts. It is created when things work in concert to create an outcome that is more valuable than individual inputs.

Which definition sounds more like a model for relationship success and for revenue marketing success? Clearly, marketers and sales need to develop synergy to drive revenue. Consider these 5 characteristics of a synergistic team:

  • Both sales and marketing are vested in each other’s success.
  • Both sales and marketing are proactive in their relationship.
  • Both sales and marketing work together to achieve shared revenue-oriented goals.
  • Both sales and marketing have goals and compensation tied to shared revenue metrics.

So how do marketing teams create a synergistic relationship with sales?

Educate yourself and your team on all things related to sales. You need to understand the sales goals, be a part of sales initiatives, understand the sales process, know the sales team and educate yourself on the pipeline. The only way to do this is to meet with sales. Join meetings and go on calls with them.

Embrace the language of revenue. Typical revenue marketers don’t talk to sales about fonts or newsletters. They talk about opportunity pipeline, quota and revenue. They ask sales-related questions: What number do you need to hit for your new acquisition target? What does your current opportunity pipeline look like and how can we help? What is your average deal size, and how can we help grow that? Why are opportunities not closing, and how can we help?

Communicate the game plan. As a leader, it’s your job to set the vision, create and communicate the game plan, collaborate and get C-level buy-in. Creating and gaining commitment to a jointly developed game plan takes time. You can’t expect sales to get it in a 30-minute presentation. You need multiple communication methods, meetings and events to share your vision and craft a winning plan.

Develop shared goals. I can’t overemphasize the importance of sales and marketing having shared goals, aligned compensation and complimentary organizational structures. No revenue accountability for marketing means zero respect from sales. When we take a look at the most successful revenue marketing machines, we see that marketing has the same kinds of goals as sales. If sales has a number tied to new account acquisition, so does marketing. If sales has a number for enterprise accounts, so does marketing.

The bottom line is that marketing and sales need to play on the same revenue marketing team. Magic happens when both parties begin to embrace this concept. Revenues are driven in a predictable, repeatable and sustainable way and your organization thrives.


"Forget Alignment, Think Synergy."  Debbie Qaqish. BMA Buzz. 11/7/13.