Of all the many changes, flexes and pivots that organisations have scrambled to achieve over the last two years, the most important one of all may have been neglected by many companies: alignment. In particular, the alignment between the sales and marketing channels.

It’s not a new idea – it even has its own portmanteau term, ‘smarketing’ – but because it’s an approach that requires big, collaborative thinking across a business, and serious organisational transformation, it’s a change that gets forgotten in good times or kicked down the road when there are other challenges to deal with. In fact, nine out of 10 sales professionals admit their organisations are misaligned across strategy, process, content and culture.

Yet evidence of the power of this approach is easy to find. Those organisations who have closely aligned their marketing strategies with their sales goals have seen very measurable increases in revenue, with estimates ranging from 32% to a huge 208%. Meanwhile, misalignment is believed to cost companies almost a trillion dollars a year globally.

And with radical changes taking place in the world of sales, thanks to the increase in virtual selling versus face-to-face, and customers who rely on their own research to make decisions, it has never been more vital to ensure that your marketing strategy is working hand in glove with your sales approach.

So what does alignment actually look like? Well in very simple terms, it’s asking: are we all working to the same goal, and have we set a path to get there? With that answered, strategic marketing can help sales teams with effective content creation to serve those customers researching products, as well as higher quality leads and data. In turn, sales teams can ensure those marketing strategies are refined and targeted and informed by competitor information, as well as helping with testimonials.

Creating a unified, collaborative operation, with joint KPIs and goals for mutual accountability, aligned personas and customer journeys is just the starting point. Working as a team, rather than separate silos, is about culture as much as processes, which can mean anything from joint brainstorms and socialising together to senior teams leading by example.

It comes down to four essential pillars: planning, team communication, ability to identify the opportunity and a strong understanding of the customer.

Get this right, and a solid account-based strategy will follow. With consistent messaging that flexes with the customer journey, from acquisition through to retention, and leverages shared reporting and analysis for agile optimisation, it should lead to streamlined processes, faster sales, a better ROI and, ultimately, happier customers.

And happy customers are loyal customers.