Marketing & Sales Alignment

Revenue Marketing 101: Get Out of The Office and Spend Time With Sales

In my previous post “Think Your Marketing Doesn’t Need to Show ROI? Here’s Why You’re Wrong” I discussed the importance of revenue marketing which aims to drive revenue by using content and lead nurturing to answer the questions of key decision makers that are party to the buying journey.  This way of marketing relies heavily on two things — deep knowledge of the customer and a keen understanding of the buying process.

A Tale of Two Marketers

Deep knowledge of the customer is the guiding principle behind customer segmentation and further, persona development (insights on personal development via The Buyer Persona Institute).  The challenge that many marketers face is in understanding the buying process. Some of you may have come into Marketing through Sales and therefore, have intimate, first-hand knowledge of the journey the buyer takes to arrive at the purchase decision.  Some of you, may have been born and raised in Marketing and as such do not have the luxury of first-hand knowledge. So if you’re in the latter group what are you to do?  The answer is what I and many others consider to be the most important (first) step in revenue marketing — aligning with Sales.

Aligning Marketing & Sales: Like Any Good Relationship, Quality Time Is Key

“It’s so sad to see when two people who have so much in common – all the same interests, the same sense of humour, the same goals – never become a couple. The same heartbreak often occurs among sales and marketing teams.”

– Sylvia Jensen, How To Spark a Romance Between Sales and Marketing

In her recent blog post for Eloqua entitled 7 Ways Your Sales and Marketing Can Align, Sylvia Jensen lays out 7 key ingredients to Sales and Marketing alignment.  The first ingredient she discussed is “ride-alongs”.

Yes marketers, in order to learn about the sales process and gain first hand knowledge about buyers, your best bet is to go on sales calls — and go on them often.  I would argue that revenue marketers should spend at least 2 days a month with customers to validate buyer personas, tweak your knowledge of the revenue cycle and to form a strong partnership with sales.  In this way you can begin to close the knowledge gap around the sales cycle.

To Take Your Relationship to The Next Level, Give More Than You Take

But it isn’t only about you is it?  The other reason ride-alongs are great is to understand what tools the sales force needs.  What information do they call upon when meeting with different buying decision makers?  How useful do they find the tools already developed by Marketing? Are there significant gaps in these tools?  This is invaluable information that can be gleaned simply by being present and participating.  I can think of many examples of sales tools that I and my teams have developed over the years that originated from these activities.

Aside from filling gaps by developing content that answer the key questions of buyers during their decision making process, ride alongs also give Sales the opportunity to provide input into the creation of the tools they will eventually use.  What’s great about this is that by including Sales early in the process, the resulting sales enablement tools will likely have greater utility and adoption.

At the end of the day, your tools are only good if they are useful.  To make the most useful tools you have to spend time with the people that intend to use them.  Granted, there is more to revenue marketing than alignment with Sales (as I have written in previous posts here) but, without it you will find your demand generation efforts dead in the water.

Marketing & Sales Alignment

Inspiring Collaboration Through Great Storytelling

Maybe it was the 2 weeks of political conventions or the master class in oratory delivered by Bill Clinton at the DNC this week, but I’ve got storytelling on my mind.

Act I: State The Challenge

One of the key elements that marketers consistently struggle with is managing and coordinating demand generation programs across digital, sales enablement and events channels. We intuitively know that there is strength in numbers. We dare to dream about multi-layered campaigns where our digital efforts are synchronized with and supported by sales activities/initiatives which in turn align with what we do at in-person events. The goal, of course, is that these activities are meaningful and significantly different across channels while still supporting one consistent story.

This all sounds great, but there are challenges that make it difficult to execute in this fashion. One of these challenges is that these three channels do not always report into marketing. So what is a marketer to do? The good news is that this is nothing new.

Act II: Reaching Across The Aisle

One of the core competencies of Marketing is the ability to execute initiatives cross-functionally without reporting authority. Our expertise is in goal alignment and then developing a plan collaboratively with our cross functional partners and then executing on that plan — as a team. But it’s not only about aligning on goals. No, we need to rely more heavily on another expertise for this particular challenge.

Act III: Use Your Story To Rally The Troops

I’ve written before of the importance of telling a story. A clear story increases the likelihood that your message comes across loud and clear to your target audience. But a good story can also inspire internal groups to rally behind your plan. So as you put together your cross channel initiatives, don’t overlook the importance of a clear vision and making that vision come alive for your cross functional partners. This more than anything else may significantly contribute to your plan’s success.

Marketing & Sales Alignment

Don’t Forget About Sales (This Is Not A Love Song)

This is not another blog post about how Marketing needs to do a better job supporting Sales.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all about sales and marketing alignment, but I don’t think it can be forced.  You can lead the proverbial horse to water all you want but if he doesn’t want a drink, you won’t be able to make him.  The critical issue is alignment of goals.  Marketing and Sales have different motivations — Sales is coin operated, Marketing is campaign performance focused (at least that’s the prevailing belief).  This disconnect often results in rifts that can sometimes be adversarial.  So what can we do to move past this barrier?  I think it’s by treating Sales as you would any customer.

When we develop marketing programs for our target external audience, we go through a well structured process that is usually conducted at least annually during the business planning process:

    1. Learn the target’s current state and what their motivations are
    2. Determine what our desired end state is for that target
    3. Understand the barriers that prevent your target from achieving that end state
    4. Create content that addresses the barriers uncovered in Step 3 above
    5. Move the target audience towards the desired end state by launching campaigns that utilize our ‘Marketecture’ in concert with the content created in Step 4

This process is tried an tested so I won’t spend any time justifying that it works. What I will spend time on is linked to the title of this blog post. If this process works so well to get external customers engaged and moving progressively closer to our desired end state, why not apply the same thinking to Sales?  I think this is the most important point of Sirius Decisions’ blog post entitled Use Marketing Automation to Communicate More Effectively With Sales (SiriusDecisions Blog http://shar.es/vp4cW).  In the post they advocate using the same Marketecture that we direct at our external customers to our internal customer as well. Here is the key excerpt from their post:

” … most marketers lament their lack of mindshare with their quota-carrying counterparts. But is this any surprise? We run tested and optimized multi-touch, multi-channel programs to reach our target prospect audience; however, we never put the same level of effort into the communications we direct to our internal audience. Salespeople are every bit as busy as the prospects we try to reach. Why should we expect their behavior to be different?

So, some words of advice for marketers:

    • Rather than lament the gulf between you and your sales colleagues, write copy that starts with answering the “What’s in it for me?” question you should expect from every sales rep.
    • Stop sending one-offs, and start using your marketing automation tools to support your sales communications programs.
    • Set measurable goals for your internal communications. Test the messages you send. Analyze the results, and optimize the programs.

So that said, how are you doing at developing integrated marketing campaigns that nurture the sales organization to a desired end state where they are fully engaged in your programs and adopt goals that are aligned with your own?