I stated in my most recent article on CMO.com that CMOs should be engaged before, during, and after the sale. If this is the case, then it’s likely that sales and marketing enjoy a trusted relationship.
But I sense that these two groups aren’t working together at a lot of companies. Sales is on one side; marketing is on the other. Synergy is fleeting.
This never made sense to me. To become “chief growth officers,” CMOs and their teams need to work alongside sales. We need to build and continually pursue a trusted relationship. Here are five ways to align interests and build trust.
1. Establish Shared Goals
Building a trusted relationship with any person, team, or entity begins with establishing shared, measurable goals. It’s the fastest way to align. Typical marketing and sales departmental goals are leads and sales. But leads and sales are not the same; they are not shared goals. Marketing isn’t incented to produce actionable leads, and sales isn’t incented to act on marketing-generated leads. Sales doesn’t care where sales come from, so there’s a disconnect.
At inContact, marketing and sales have shared goals. For example, we share two sides of the same number: qualified opportunities. Here’s how it works:
Side 1: Marketing is accountable for generating raw inquiries and nurturing these inquiries to meet specific criteria developed with sales. When leads meet these criteria, they become qualified opportunities and are passed on to sales.
Side 2: Sales is charged with converting these qualified opportunities into closed deals. They are specifically accountable for performance against marketing-generated qualified opportunities.
After the handoff of qualified opportunities, marketing still has a role in conversion because we share in the outcome. We have goals for closed deals, revenue associated with closed deals, and even revenue-per-product-line--all shared goals with sales.
I discussed our revenue performance management model in another previous article. Developing this model was no small task, but it was well worth the effort because the model enables us to measure the right things. This sort of transparency and objectivity are critical if sales and marketing are going to work well together.
2. Start At The Top--Show Them How It’s Done
For marketing and sales to be BFFs, it’s got to be by design. A mandate needs to come from the top. If you can influence the hiring of your sales counterpart, look for somebody who will be simpatico with your goals.
The next best thing is to ensure that your CEO holds both executives to the same outcomes. If the CEO doesn’t care, then it’s all on you to make it happen. Model the behavior you want to see in others.
If you want marketing and sales to work hand in hand, then show them how it’s done. Show them and tell them--again and again. Brief the board of directors with the top sales executive present. Make sure that marketing and sales operations are sharing information and insights. When you deliver messages to the folks in the field, underscore that they’ve been verified by sales management.
3. Architect The Buyer Journey
Marketing is the lead dog in the organization because the buyer journey is so different than it used to be. No longer do customers rely on a salesperson to educate them from the start. This Internet-enabled behavior has changed and elevated marketing’s role. Marketing is pushing further and further into the sales funnel.
Take this opportunity to work alongside sales. Architect with sales the buyer journey that leads to the fastest close. Perhaps the journey moves from a webinar to a white paper, from a roadshow to a custom demo, and then to close. Understand the process and how to replicate it against hundreds and hundreds of very different propositions. Collaborate on analytics to judge the quality and velocity of that journey, as well as the productive outcome.
Analytics play a great role across the demand-to-close spectrum. It’s important for both sales and marketing to understand what’s working and what’s not. Identify together leading indicators and the best possible pipeline mix. As in goal setting, transparency and objectivity are important.
The art of the deal is still in play, especially with a many-touch buying experience, such as selecting a software solution. It still involves both art and the power of persuasion. And that’s the job of the individual. The way that we persuade is where marketing gets involved.
4. Arm Your Sales Team--Be A Trusted Resource
If marketing is about the way we persuade, then you have to arm your salespeople with the research and insights they need. Articulate beyond the day to day. Understand the next big thing. Marketing’s job is to work with sales to educate and to predispose the prospect to your solution.
To build value with the customer, sales needs factoids and the latest and greatest information on where the market is headed. Conduct benchmark assessments, report industry trends, and provide stats on customer plans. Feed sales information they need to be successful at their jobs. If you’ve established shared goals, this is in your best interest.
Becoming a trusted resource may start with a one-way effort, but sales will share back once the value becomes apparent. For example, my team provides competitive intelligence to sales, and the sales team provides input and insight to strengthen this intelligence.
5. Get A Marriage Counselor
Building a trusted relationship between sales and marketing is not easy. If your efforts are fraught with discord, get a marriage counselor. Both parties must have the will to fix the relationship, or it won’t work.
At inContact we brought in a third party to facilitate the relationship. Sometimes it was contentious. It uncovered some problems with our model. But the numbers were the numbers. The facilitator helped us create a safe place to build trust and transparency so that we could get to the bottom of problems that were keeping us from achieving our goals. It broke open a lot of realizations for us.
A final thought: Partnerships aren’t static. Relentlessly pursue marketing’s relationship with sales. Show value day in and day out. Act the part. If you act like a service organization, you’ll be treated like one. If you act like a leader who drives alignment, then good things will follow.