With each new fiscal year comes a fresh set of budgets and renewed energy to knock sales targets out of the park – but how should your organization be channeling these resources to maximize success?

The CMO Survey, a twice-annual report published by Christine Moorman of Duke University, in partnership with Deloitte, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association, aims to give a pulse on the future of marketing, and the latest data was released this month. It’s no surprise that sales and marketing alignment is an ongoing priority (we’d even contend that it should be one of your CEO’s top priorities).

The latest data found that marketing budgets will increase 8.9% in the next 12 months, and that sales even falls under the marketing org in over a quarter of companies, up 5% from August.

With this in mind, how can you optimize sales and revenue from the marketing side? Based on this year’s report, we’ve identified three key areas: data-driven talent, sales and marketing goal alignment, and technology.

Hire the Right Talent

35.3% of those surveyed said having the right talent was most important for driving future organic growth in their organization. Your talent strategy needs to be inclusive of the full breadth of sales and marketing employees, from management to day-to-day operations. Three key hires we recommend in today’s data-driven economy are:

Sales Enablement Manager

  • What the Role Does: The Sales Enablement Manager is responsible for onboarding and training all sales team members, and ensuring they have what they need to engage with customers throughout the sales funnel. They are also charged with implementing a sales library or sales engagement platform—the one-stop-shop for much-needed content and product information that helps salespeople nurture their contacts throughout their buyer’s journey.
  • How it Drives Revenue: The Sales Enablement Manager is a valuable coach, partner, and link between the sales and marketing teams. This individual can assess where there may be gaps in current trainings, messaging, and resources and create content and solutions to bridge these gaps. With the Sales Enablement Manager on board, the sales managers (who likely were previously handling trainings) can have more time to coach their teams, and their teams can identify and address leaks in the pipeline sooner.

Sales and Marketing Data Analyst

  • What the Role Does: It is projected that marketing analytics spend will increase 198% in the next three years, but only 42% of companies are currently using marketing analytics in decision making. Additionally, the August data found that 40% of companies feel they do not have the right talent to fully leverage marketing analytics. That’s where the Sales and Marketing Data Analyst comes into the picture.
  • How it Drives Revenue: These data pros are trained to bring a human touch to data analysis, working within your data management platform to help adjust the course of your sales and marketing strategy. They could sit in the sales or marketing organizations. But more and more commonly, there is a centralized revenue operations or data science organization where sales and marketing data analysts are on the same team.

Sales Development Reps (SDRs)

  • What the Role Does: SDRs are one of the most valuable assets at your company. This may seem like a no-brainer, but a successful sales team needs a healthy number of SDRs to manage leads without feeling overwhelmed (we suggest a solid SDR can only process a maximum of 20 qualified leads per day). They are on the front lines to engage with prospects, identify potential opportunities, and qualify new business.
  • How it Drives Revenue: With the leadership and guidance provided by your new Sales Enablement Manager and Marketing Data Analyst, your SDRs will be more efficient, allowing them to pursue the right leads at the right time, close more deals than ever, and still make it home in time for dinner. Whether your SDRs sit within the sales or marketing organization, we highly recommend a tight alignment between your SDR and marketing teams—even if it means sitting in close proximity. This is the team that is constantly engaging with new business, and can provide an invaluable feedback loop back into the marketing organization as to what’s sticking (or not).

Aligning the Sales and Marketing Teams

With the right talent in place, your next priority, cited by 20.8% of those surveyed as important for driving future organic growth, is to ensure alignment between your sales and marketing teams. This starts at day one, and regular alignment is critical for a seamless customer experience. Three key areas to focus on:

Collaborative Goal-setting

Set quarterly and annual goals in collaboration with the sales team. This way, everyone can have a voice at the table and considerations from both sales and marketing can be heard and addressed when developing goals. When everyone has a commonly agreed upon goal to work toward, individuals will feel more valued and have a greater sense of ownership and accountability to achieving those goals.

Joint SLAs

Jointly set sales and marketing service level agreements (SLAs) and lead qualification criteria. Although these agreements and criteria will be fluid, based on company trajectory and priorities and feedback from sales and marketing teams, this serves as a necessary foundation to describe lead criteria (market, company size, etc), how much time can be spent to qualify a lead, what percent of leads the marketing team should provide sales in a week, and other critical guidelines for the team to follow.

Weekly Dashboard Review Meeting

Hold a weekly dashboard review with your sales leadership counterpart. These weekly reviews can be used to course correct early on–because who wants to wait until the last month of the quarter to realize your goals won’t be met (and it could have been fixed).

Implement the Right Tech Stack

With the right people and alignment processes in place, the final thing you’ll need to be on the fast track to sales success is the right technology and data. Although the survey breaks them out separately—with 11% citing having the right technology and 9.8% citing Having the right data as important to their future growth—at People.ai we know these two elements are interdependent. You want to identify technology that will help you create a single source of truth for sales and marketing data, and enable sales and marketing to deliver on goals with shared ownership.

A Single Source of Truth

A shared sales and marketing data repository acts as the single source of truth for the organization and is a critical component to get the sales and marketing teams on the same page. It prevents double-counting of source attributions, inflated forecasts, and a multitude of other issues that cause friction between the sales and marketing teams.

Capture All Sales Activity

Having the right CRM in place is essential, but having the right data flowing into the CRM is even more critical. Every sales organization struggles to get sales to input their activity – logging all of their calls, emails, meetings, and contacts engaged with. But AI-powered sales automation technology like People.ai now exists to take the burden off of the sales team and automatically capture all of their activity and get it into the CRM.

Joint Goal Ownership

Once you have clean CRM data, and the insight into the sales and marketing activities it truly takes to close a deal, you can implement shared ownership of results between sales and marketing. With this data in hand, identify your sales team’s capacity—how many leads can they realistically engage with in a given time period? You can then use this number as the basis for your marketing team’s lead generation goals. Instead of asking them to create as many leads as possible, task them with delivering the optimal number of targeted leads to the sales team.

AI and Machine Learning

Although many marketing organizations have been slow to adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, CMO Survey data found planned adoption of these technologies will increase steadily over the next three years.

AI Use Increase


If you’re looking for a solution that puts these elements to work within your current sales and marketing technology ecosystem, check out People.ai. Get the insights you need to make data-driven business decisions and align your marketing and sales teams for maximum potential.