Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment With Incentives & Recognition

By: ITA Group
two lines of chess pieces converging into one line

Sales and marketing alignment is an area where most companies have room for improvement.

In a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth. Yet, 9 out of 10 respondents say they are misaligned across strategy, process, content and culture. 

Before we dig into how incentives and recognition can help with alignment, let’s look at potential areas of disconnect between departments.

Understanding the Conflict Between Sales & Marketing

Working in siloes is the core reason sales and marketing often seem at odds with each other. 

In many organizations, a product goes through this basic process:

  1. Product development creates a product, then passes it to marketing. 
  2. Marketing stirs up interest in the product, then passes leads to sales. 
  3. Sales learns customers’ needs, then closes the deal.

When departments work in siloes, the lines of communication are closed, which can lead to negative situations. For example, if a product fails to sell as expected, each team might blame the others instead of working together. The product development team might think marketing and sales didn’t understand what made the product special. Marketing might feel product development didn’t provide the right features to promote, or that sales didn’t follow up properly on the lead. And finally, sales might think marketing gave them a poor lead, or product development didn’t listen to customer feedback well enough. If these teams communicated better, they could turn a challenge into an opportunity by sharing feedback to make a better product.

In the end, you want the customer to feel happy because the product solved their needs, which can only happen through collaboration among teams. 

How to Align Sales & Marketing for Better Results

When sales and marketing work together effectively, they sell more products and services, driving success and growth. 

According to research from LXA, organizations with highly cooperative marketing and sales teams achieved impressive results.

  • Well-aligned sales and marketing teams drive more than 200% revenue growth from marketing tactics.
  • Organizations with aligned departments achieve up to 38% higher sales win rates. 
  • Marketing and sales alignment leads to 36% higher customer retention.

But, as sales and marketing leaders know well, creating a harmonious balance between the departments can be an enormous challenge. Symbiosis between sales and marketing won’t happen by itself. It requires an expert approach and tried-and-true tactics.

Incentives and recognition can solve these common sales and marketing disagreements and create a frictionless bond between the two. Even across a wide spectrum of industries and audiences, we’ve seen incentives and recognition work time and time again.

8 Ways to Use Incentives & Recognition to Align Sales & Marketing 

Here's a collection of incentive and recognition ideas we’ve found work to build sales and marketing alignment.

1. When planning to use incentives to align departments, first make sure that metrics and goals are shared. Ensure everyone is working toward the same goals, whether they’re yearlong, quarterly or monthly.

2. With common metrics planned, map out iterative steps for employees to get them where you want them to be. For example, what do they need to achieve monthly to hit their yearly goals? Once you’ve established metrics and steps to reach the goals, you’ll have a better idea which of the many incentive and recognition options will work best to align teams. 

3. Take advantage of your team’s competitive nature—host a contest that encourages interdepartmental growth. Try offering an award to the sales rep or sales region that best uses marketing automation tools. This could be tracked based on the number of platform logins, for example. 

4. When rolling out a new product or feature, plan a spurt incentive program that focuses on revenue growth (sales), and number or value of new clients (marketing). This can keep both teams engaged in the launch.

5. Many sales and marketing teams come into conflict because they don’t understand the other team’s role, and training is just the ticket to correct that. Don’t limit training to just building individual team capabilities and knowledge—go deeper by incenting collaboration through cross-functional training. When sales understands marketing’s role, and vice versa, the potential is powerful.

6. Many companies have an “employee of the month” program. Take that concept and create a more granular “marketer of the month” program, where a marketing team member is recognized by sales, and vice versa. This creates a meaningful, memorable and a professionally rewarding experience for employees.

7. Peer-to-peer or manager-to-employee recognition is an incredibly useful and popular tactic for creating real excitement. In fact, 48% of organizations put peer-to-peer recognition to use, and to great effect when implemented well. To grow employee engagement, give employees and managers the power to recognize each other for great work that correlates with your overarching organizational values.

8. Keep tearing down the walls between departments by promoting in-person recognition at meetings. When marketing and sales can attend each other’s meetings and are recognized for their assistance in the opposite team’s success, everyone wins.

Incent With What Motivates Your Audience

The task of effectively motivating salespeople and marketing professionals is complex. Some individuals are moved more by cash and tangible items, while internal drive pushes others.

So, what’s the best incentive for your teams? Letting your people choose what motivates them.

Appeal to the intrinsic motivation (e.g., achieving knowledge, earning a badge, sharing information with others, etc.) of your people by using autonomy and mastery for outcomes that are personally rewarding.

With extrinsic motivators (e.g., physical awards, merchandise, gift cards, cash, etc.), correlate value with significance to get more from your people. Award value should vary depending on the significance of the goal achieved. Think anything from an online badge or certificate to group or individual travel opportunities.

Speaking of travel opportunities, incentive travel is one of the most popular and powerful motivators. Countless organizations utilize incentive travel as a way to successfully encourage sales growth, but it can help encourage marketing growth, too. Encourage your managers—or perhaps your entire sales and marketing departments—to work together and push harder by promoting a once-in-a-lifetime trip for top-tier performance.

These are just a few ways to use incentives and recognition to create marketing and sales alignment. 

If you’re curious about other ways to create alignment within your organization using incentives and recognition, we’d love to discuss a strategy that aligns with your business objectives.

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ITA Group

ITA Group custom-crafts engagement solutions that motivate and inspire your people. ITA Group infuses strategies that fuel advocacy and drive business results for some of the world’s biggest brands.