When building a house, you can’t start with putting up walls and a roof – you must start with setting and building the foundation. When producing a movie, you can’t start with the conflict – you must start with character and plot development. When building a relationship, you can’t propose on the first date – you must start building trust and rapport.
Business is the same; you must start with the foundation. But, business is different in the sense that there’s no obvious place to start – no “standard” foundation. Before you start with the fun and sexy topics like technology and tactics, you have to start with the fundamental pieces.
One of those foundational pieces is sales and marketing alignment. Without it, you’re wasting money, time and energy.
But it’s easier said than done. That’s why we’re hosting Aligned ‘17, the biggest virtual B2B conference dedicated 100% to aligning sales and marketing teams.
We’re talking with some of the brightest leaders in sales and marketing to talk about the strategies and tactics they’re using to drive alignment and fuel growth. Register here. It’s a full 5-day event starting on Monday May 22nd.
In the meantime, here are some immediate and actionable pieces of advice from our speakers that you can use right now.
Deploy Empathy for Sales and Marketing to Understand Each Other
“Sales and marketing orgs are going to hate each other because they have different objectives.
Sales people – one move from your marketing team can change everything for you. They can go 0 for 92, but one activation at a conference, one video they make for Facebook, one sponsorship, one thing fixes everything. They are literally Mike Tyson – one punch. That you have to respect. There’s nothing that you, a salesperson, can do, that will ever map to one excellent execution in marketing that has the same impact.
Next, marketers – I love that you can be highly successful and everyone knows how you are, but you’re not practical and you don’t get the full picture all the time. Your salespeople are grinding day-in and day-out, and are trying to clean up from the mistakes you’ve made or the misses you’ve had. They don’t have the luxury of your budget that has no quantifiable evidence to success. And you’ve got to be empathetic to your sales team because they are there and there’s no wiggle room.
Both of you desperately need to empathize with the other party. Those are the organizations that win. But that’s up to the head of marketing and the head of sales — to be aligned at the top and create the air-cover for their marketing and sales teams to be able to create a cohesive unit. And that’s what great alignment is.“
Sales Enablement is the Glue that Holds Sales and Marketing Together
“They put together the people, process, and technology that can get the digital seller ready from a skills and a tech stack standpoint. You cannot be a digital seller without those two.”
Most Sales Enablement leaders are trainers, not divisional leaders. Where this fails is when a Sales Enablement leader is hired and they bring in the same playbooks that worked for them in the 20th century. They are analogue coaches and trainers, so they try to throw workshops at the problem, buy tools and pray that people roll them out“
The Two Biggest Pitfalls that Companies Make that Cause Mis-alignment
“One of the biggest pitfalls of alignment is people thinking it happens fast. If your deal size is over $50K and you’re selling something complex or selling into the enterprise, you know what you’re sales cycle is. But just because you’re implemented a new strategy doesn’t mean you’ve shortened your sales cycle. What it does mean is you’re shortened your time to engagement with the right accounts. People confuse those two issues. They’ll give an Account Based Revenue strategy 3 months then say ‘we don’t have any revenue out of it.’ Well, your cycle was 3-9 months to begin with. What do you expect?!
You need to be willing to make that investment in time. It’s different, but you will get there.
The other pitfall is not having the right metrics in place. If marketing is still comped on number of leads generated or MQLs, that doesn’t make sense for this strategy. You have to think about what are the metrics by which we’re going to measure success, and how to we drive behavior to support those metrics.”
Get Sales and Marketing Working Together Against Revenue
“The big one is something we’ve all wanted for a long time, which is they have dividing lines for what they’re responsible for, but that’s not where they end the relationship. Frankly, that falls on marketing. Instead of isolating marketing to the job of creating MQLs, those two work together against revenue. It’s something we’ve always talked about but it doesn’t happen.
When they do that, they have common milestone, goals and a plan to get there.
There’s the soft stuff like communication and collaboration, but that doesn’t work unless they are both focused on the goal, the journey to get to the goal, and how they can help each other get there.”
Align Around the Status Quo to Find Leverage
“Misalignment usually boils down to a root cause, and it’s the root cause that needs to be addressed. The root cause is the lack of a solid understanding of the buyer. I see it in marketing and in sales. Everybody is still too product and service focused; they’re driving towards their personal results, but they don’t know enough.
Even though, in recent years, people have been getting into buyer personas but they are very shallow, even the ones that I see in big companies. ‘Our buyer is a 32-year-old male into extreme sports etc. etc.’
Let’s get real. What does this buyer think about every day? What is this person’s role in the organization? What would make them want to change from the status quo? What is their status quo?
Virtually all marketers fail to tell their salespeople about the status quo. There’s usually three or four primary status quos. If you understand these, you’ll understand the leverage points”
How Technology Can Help or Hurt Your Organizational Alignment
“Sales has always talked about accounts – at the end of the quarter, they talk about the accounts they’ve closed. Marketing has historically always talked about leads, and this is the fault of marketing automation platforms, which are lead-centric. So, you’ve got marketing working in a lead-based system and you’ve got sales working in an account-based system, which is inherently a mismatch that makes things hard.
It encourages marketing to be more focused on quantity – how many leads did I get? At the end of the day, sales care more about quality – am I engaging with the right kinds of people at the right accounts?
To make matters worse, both departments are generally working in different systems. Marketing has historically worked in their marketing automation platform, and 8 years ago, that wasn’t so bad because sales wasn’t sending their own emails at high volume. But in the last few years, we’ve had this emergence of sales automation tools. Now marketing is sending drip campaigns using their tools, and you also have sales sending drip campaigns using their tools. The problem is marketing doesn’t know who’s getting emailed by sales, and sales doesn’t know who’s getting emailed by marketing. That is not a cohesive customer experience, which is what really matters in the end.”
Get Marketing to Embrace Revenue Responsibility
“Traditionally, marketing has prioritized tactics and activities over outcomes. We have a sales team that is grinding it out at the end of the month and at the end of the quarter, while marketing is at the bar celebrating because they hit their re-tweet goal. That is not alignment!
You have to focus on metrics that you can buy a beer with.
The outcome of marketing should be sales development. If you start thinking about marketing as the sales development department we might be moving in the right direction. For alignment from the company standpoint, you have to step up and own metrics that you may not be immediately comfortable with (and certainly don’t have complete control over), but are the metrics that your CFO recognizes and your organization prioritizes. It would drive alignment of activity and metrics of culture inside of your marketing organization moving forward.
You move from an environment of more – more leads, traffic, clicks, retweets – and focus more on the business of pipeline. Focus on driving quality over quantity.”
Use Playbooks to Fill the Gaps in the Sales Process
“You can think of our sales process as operating from a 50,000 foot level. The playbook takes the sales process down to the 10,000 or 15,000 foot level. If we do them right, they’re focused on a certain industry and the personas that are typically involved in the buying decisions. They take the general things that we focus on in the sales process and make then very specific in both the context and the content that is relevant to engaging customers effectively.
There are various approaches to playbook, but the best ones that I see mirror the sales process but then take it down to this very deep level. They start to move to the customer-specific issue and how we can engage the customers in those industries about those issues. Then, deeper than that, how do we engage each person in the buying process. We can start looking at the persona-specific issues.
The playbooks really provide guidelines to help us become increasingly relevant in our conversation and guide our customers through the buying process”
2017 Will Be The Year of Failure
“If your SDRs sit with marketing, then they should absolutely be compensated on their ability to get the meeting. But marketing as a whole is more ambiguous on what they’re doing, so they have different metrics, but at the end of the day, if those metrics don’t get me the end revenue that I need, then they haven’t been successful. I like them to be more focused on the broader number that sales is also compensated on. If sales has a quota of $10M across 10 reps, then marketing damn straight better have $10M associated in their compensation as far as their bonuses.
Here’s the difference though – it should be part of their total target compensation, or on-target earnings. It shouldn’t be that marketing is compensated on, $10M for example, and if you hit this, you get a bonus on top, but if not, no worries, you get fully comped. Your totally target comp should include that. If you’re going to go hire a marketing executive for a quarter of a million dollars a year, but they only get 75% if they don’t hit their number. Compensation shouldn’t be additive – it should be the same as sales.”
Reverse Engineer Case Studies to Drive Alignment
“What can sales and marketing do to get better aligned? Just sit together!
But my favorite way of alignment sales and marketing – I don’t think sales reps get enough education just for business acumen purposes. Sales is finally starting to become professional. The problem is that we still teach on skills, techniques and processes but what we don’t reach on is business acumen. Helping a kid right out of school have a formal business conversation with an executive. Not your BANT questions.
The way I recommend doing this is running a call blitz. My favorite way to run a call blitz is reverse-engineer a case study. By the way, for all marketers, the only things that I’d focus on are case studies, case studies, case studies. These are stories – identify quantifiable results within those case studies. Don’t say, ‘after implementing our solution, they got significantly better results.’ Quantify it.
After that call blitz, sales and marketing sit down together and say ‘this worked and this didn’t.’ Do this just once a week, you’ll produce results, and any company can do it with no excuses”
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into aligning sales and marketing – that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Join us on May 22 for a week of practical and actionable conversation with over 50 sales and marketing leaders.