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The #1 Reason Why SaaS Marketing Teams Fail

Liudmila Kiseleva

Driving SaaS marketing is challenging. VP of marketing in a SaaS business is a demanding role and expectations are usually very high from both company leadership and the sales team. So why do even the most knowledgeable and experienced SaaS marketing teams fail?

We’ve been working with a number of SaaS businesses, we saw brilliant teams attacking the market and driving results, and unfortunately, we saw a number of horror stories of complete failure of SaaS marketing teams.

And the number one reason that we figured after working with a number of SaaS businesses is this lack of alignment between sales and marketing teams.

READ ALSO: How to Calculate and Allocate Your SaaS Marketing Budget Wisely 

Watch the video below where I discuss sales and marketing alignment.

There is usually tension between these teams and this tension is typically driven by two factors:

1. Low deals conversion rates. The marketing team’s message to sales, in this case, would be something like this: “Hey, sales team! You’re not closing enough. We send you a ton of good leads, but you close nothing”.

2. Low amount of quality leads. The sales team’s message to marketing, on the contrary, would be along these lines: “Marketing team, come on! You’re sending us the leads we cannot even qualify!  The leads that you’re sending are no good”.

The biggest problem for SaaS CEOs, in this case, is this: sometimes those conversations become so heated that people tend to forget why they are working together. And instead of the Growth department that marketing and sales teams are usually trying to build, you have a fight where the marketing team is not being heard by the sales team and vice versa.

How to align the teams and start building your Growth Department?

What can you do as the SaaS CEO, founder, or senior executive to actually align teams together?

First of all, that’s the structure behind your actions which is really important. And we saw these three pillar principles that really help align SaaS marketing and sales teams together. 

Pillar #1: Proper Analytics Systems

Numbers don’t lie. And using data and specific numbers is one of the best ways to turn all heads in one direction – Growth.

The caveat here is that you need to know your real numbers. Proper web analytics setup and integration of all your marketing data with CRM data will give your teams a common ground and they will start looking at their results from a united, aligned perspective.

Note: from our experience, it is very important to integrate marketing and CRM data properly. Even if you have some default integration settings enabled in your CRM, we highly recommend reviewing them. Typically, they don’t work well when used as an out-of-the-box solution and cause lead attribution confusion that you definitely don’t need, as these mixed signals can mess up marketing decisions.

Pillar #2: CRM statuses alignment

Both marketing and sales teams need to have a common language to discuss the customer journey and sales cycle stages. And usually, the most effective way to design it is to align around the statuses that a prospect or a lead has in your SaaS CRM workflows.

It’s not that obvious from the very beginning, but the more we talk to the marketing and sales teams, the more we see the misunderstanding of the leads’ statuses as they move along the sales cycle stages.

Here  are some most common questions we address when we facilitate SaaS marketing and sales teams’ alignment: 

  • What is an SQL? How do we define that specifically for our business? 
  • What is a Not a Fit lead? How can we describe this type of leads in my particular organization? 
  • What is the Sales Accepted Lead in my particular case? 

Having clear, precisely defined statuses helps both teams communicate quicker and more effectively.

And again, using the default workflows and default statuses in a CRM like Hubspot or Salesforce without having such a glossary brings your teams into trouble. We recommend applying customized CRM statuses that are tuned up to your specific SaaS product customer journey and sales cycle stages.

Note: we highly recommend documenting these statuses in a form of an internal glossary (this can be a document describing what exactly each status in your CRM workflows means). And we also recommend arranging a joint training session where both teams can review the statuses’ definitions together, ask questions, and then use these statuses in their everyday work.

Pillar #3: Results evaluation culture

Here we mean establishing a way to have an open conversation about results. If you have your various marketing channels, measurement systems, and CRM terms and statuses glossary in place, the last but probably the most important thing is to build the results evaluation culture. This is an essential pillar of bringing your sales and marketing teams on the same page. 

Results analysis needs to happen on a regular basis, and, ideally, this needs to be an open conversation.  We often saw people from sales and marketing teams being not really in a great level of trust with each other. Looking at the same numbers together is the first step in building this trust. 

Joint meetings where everybody understands the data that they are looking at tend to turn into very productive and actionable follow-ups that drive momentum. We saw these meetings as a great way to unite the effort and let SaaS companies grow faster and more sustainably.

Main article: Ultimate Guide to SaaS Metrics That Matter in Q4 2022

About the author
Liudmila Kiseleva

Liudmila is one of the best-in-class digital marketers and a data-driven, very hands-on agency owner. With top-level education and experience, Liudmila is a true expert when it comes to digital marketing strategies and execution.

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