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The top 5 obstacles to alignment for marketing & sales teams

22 December 2023

The top 5 obstacles to alignment for marketing & sales teams

In today's ever-evolving business landscape, marketing and sales team alignment is crucial to success. Alignment is essential for successfully implementing emerging trends like demand generation, Revenue Operations (RevOps), account-based marketing (ABM), and asynchronous selling.

However, achieving this alignment can be fraught with obstacles.

Let's explore the top five obstacles marketing and sales teams face when trying to work together. We'll also uncover practical strategies that can transform the dream of team synergy into a vivid reality.

1. Navigating marketing-to-sales handoffs

The marketing-to-sales handoff might seem straightforward. After a lead qualifies for sales, they become a sales-qualified lead (or SQL). The marketing team needs to ensure that their colleagues in sales are kept informed and involved.

However, numerous pitfalls can emerge during this process. It’s not quite Indiana Jones with a rolling boulder, but it’s close.

Two primary issues can derail this handoff:

  1. the qualifying criteria (when to pass the lead to sales), and
  2. the handoff mechanism itself.

It is essential for both marketing and sales teams to collaborate. Both teams should use the same tools, such as HubSpot, to provide a single source of truth. Establish precise criteria and a mutually agreed-upon handoff process. A Service Level Agreement between marketing and sales is a great idea to keep both teams accountable.

Solutions for the marketing to sales handoff

To tackle handoff challenges, marketing operations and sales operations teams should meet to agree on lifecycle stage parameters.

They should clearly define the lifecycle stage criteria from both a marketing and sales perspective, learning from past successes. Armed with this essential knowledge, it is crucial to establish these criteria in your CRM, marketing automation platform, and any other technology you employ for marketing and sales.

This collaboration and alignment will help you in better managing customer relationships, and increasing leads passed from marketing to sales.


2. Unravelling the disparate systems conundrum

With countless tools at the disposal of marketing and sales teams, managing these systems can be challenging. Too many systems can lead to data inaccuracy, context switching, system syncing issues, and misaligned handoff criteria.

It is extremely common for marketing to operate in isolation, with sales having their own separate system, or sometimes no system at all, resulting in a lack of communication between the two. It just doesn't work. Most importantly these days, it also has the potential to provide your customers with a poor experience. It also can cost a fortune if you're running too many systems!

Solutions for system overload

To solve the issue of having separate systems, merge marketing and sales operations into one unified platform, like HubSpot. If you can’t change systems, then audit your current systems to identify information gaps across systems. Evaluate the features and capabilities of each system to help you meet your objectives.

Your goal here should be to get the separate systems talking to each other. Get the data synced between the various systems. We like HubSpot for this, because it connects to just about anything. This ensures that the data remains consistent and current, even if you have to use a system other than HubSpot. Tools like Zapier and Make will help you connect systems without a built in integration.


3. Overcoming inconsistent data dilemmas

Poor data quality can result from too many tools, weak tech usage processes, or a lack of operational leadership. Unreliable data can hinder decision-making and negatively impact customer interactions.

Solutions to wrangle your data

Simplifying your systems down to one often addresses data issues. You have your master record that all data is updated in.

However, when that's not enough, examine data collection processes and implement automation to enhance data accuracy. Ensure all systems share data regularly and automatically, and consider reducing your tech stack for data consistency.

In some organisations, some training is required here to help your teams understand what is required of them. Are they entering the information incorrectly, or inconsistently? Provide some training, and follow it up with some written documentation to set them up for success.


4. Aligning goals & resolving MQL conflicts

Marketing and sales teams often face conflicts when their goals are misaligned. This leads to friction in generating marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and revenue.

Its not hard to see why.

The main focus of marketing teams is usually to generate a large number of leads, increase brand awareness, and guide potential customers through different stages of the purchasing journey. Their success is often measured by the number of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) they produce, which can then be passed off to sales.

These MQLs are leads or prospects that have shown enough interest in your products or services that they are ready to connect with a salesperson.

But how would sales feel if the marketing-qualified leads they receive don't meet their quality or expectations? What if they're not ready for sales, and your sales team are spending time on bad fit leads?

This is a key source of friction between marketing and sales teams, but it can be solved!

Solutions for resolving marketing and sales team conflict

Encourage sales and marketing teams to collaborate, share insights, and make informed decisions that benefit both teams. Foster mutual understanding to address questions about MQLs, content gating, and asynchronous buying strategies.

Get on the same page about what should constitute a marketing qualified lead. Create mutually agreed criteria for MQLs, to ensure that leads passed to the sales team meet certain agreed-upon standards.

Regular communication and meetings between marketing and sales can help align their strategies and goals.


5. Executing successful ABM strategies

Misaligned teams can hinder the success of account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns. When it comes to account-based marketing strategies, understanding the buying committee of a target account thoroughly is the key to success. This in turn demands even greater coordination and alignment between marketers and sales reps. They must be clear in terms of handoffs, systems, data, and objectives.


  • Utilise tools like HubSpot to support your ABM efforts.
  • Verify job titles and buying roles.
  • Create dashboards to understand buying roles.
  • Hold meetings between sales and marketing to agree on buying committee priorities.
  • Implement the previously mentioned solutions to ensure alignment, and use ABM tools to launch effective campaigns.

Get started with well-aligned account based marketing

Alignment between your marketing and sales teams is achievable through collaboration, active listening, and consistent action. By addressing these five challenges, your teams can work in harmony to drive business success.

Do you need help with your sales and marketing alignment? Get in touch and the Refuel team can help walk you through how ABM will work for your business.

Ryan Jones

Ryan is the Founder & CEO of Refuel Creative. He's a HubSpot certified marketer and SEO expert.