Aligning Marketing and Sales [video]

Hi. Aligning marketing and sales is hardly a new topic, but we still get asked about it all the time and I’ve been asked to talk about it again today. I’m going to refer to what some other experts on marketing and sales alignment have said is the best way to go about aligning marketing and sales.

Well, for starters, are we aligning marketing to sales or are we aligning sales to marketing? I’ll answer that and lots of other questions in today’s show. To do that, I’m going to refer to doctor Google, find out what the top 4 sites on the topic of aligning marketing and sales suggests, but I’m also going to take a look today at the most shared article on the net on the same topic of aligning marketing and sales. Let’s take a look now.

The first search came from Oracle Marketing Cloud. The article’s – we don’t have a particular author, so it’s from Oracle Marketing Cloud as a corporate thing – talks about the proven way to grow revenue, which is, frankly, it’s a quote drawn from Aberdeen. It talks about companies that are best in class at aligning marketing and sales, experience an average of 20% growth in annual revenue as opposed to a 4% decline. They argue that the essentials are basically about shared definitions.

We’re now moving to talk about how technology makes the process easier. I guess, as they being Oracle – we’ve moved past Aberdeen – the argument is measurement. Well, I would agree with all of that in 2014 study published in 2015, we found some far more compelling results – specifically, a 67% higher probability that marketing-generated leads will close; 108% better lead acceptance rate; and a 209% stronger contribution to revenue from marketing-generated leads.

I certainly don’t disagree with the Aberdeen conclusions, I’d amp them up a bit, certainly with a 500 odd companies and I’m pretty confident in those conclusions.

Our second site was Marketo and they said the problem is that marketing is from Venus and sales is from Mars. I’ve used this same expression again, previously, so I can’t really argue with it even though it’s a bit naff. Even when I used it it was naff.

“Different goals and misunderstood roles,” and I think that’s true so I certainly agree with the goals and roles argument. The solution: Replace the sales funnel with the revenue cycle. What’s that really mean in English? I think it’s an end-to-end process rather than just have sales funnel and marketing process. If that’s the point then I agree. Define the strategy together – wholly agree. Sales development representatives or inside sales – and again, although that’s not a conclusion I’ve reached before, I agree with Marketo’s conclusion.

Third site is on Clickz.com, and Mathew Sweezey, who’s head of thought leadership of B2B marketing at Pardot – you’d think he knows what he will be arguing. Five simple keys: Single customer view, common definitions, aligned goals, notifications – and by that he means who gets told what – and build support campaigns; couldn’t disagree with any of that.

Finally – and I’m going to disagree with somebody – he’s the one I’m going to disagree with. It’s published on B2B Marketing Insider from a gentleman brother named Michael Brenner – I think I read some of his stuff before. He’s Head of Strategy at NewsCred. He’s actually summarizing the views put by others, but I want to peak on, frankly, all three of them. Karen Bannan argues, “Send your marketing folks out with your salespeople.” That’s not a conclusion, it’s not about understanding each other, it’s about having an end-to-end process and I don’t think that’s the answer.

Steve Martin – a funny man – says focus on Win-Loss analyses – yeah maybe; there’s better conclusions, I think. MarketingSherpa says sales is the target audience and they go on. No they’re not – the customers are the audience. Marketing and sales don’t align to each other, they align to the customer. Frankly – again, I had to disagree with somebody – that’s the one I disagree with, this B2B Marketing article.

In fairness, it was 6 years ago. The others that I’ve reviewed are a little newer. But frankly, it’s not about getting to know each other, getting to love each other at all. It’s about having an end-to-end process to earn business from the customer. The customer, not you.

The most shared article: I couldn’t actually pull this one myself, fortunately, my researcher – Jason, thank you for your research by the way – did pull it up and he’s concluded. This is a piece … let me give you the background at this actually. It was shared 875 times on Facebook, 438 times on LinkedIn, 55 times on Twitter – so you like it. Why wouldn’t I? What are their conclusions? Firstly it’s Pardot and the five principles. The power of communication, the power of support, the power of trust, the power of transparency, and the power of shared success. I have to say their conclusions have to be more powerful than that because those headlines don’t tell me much at all.

Let’s try and synthesize that view, I reckon there’s four conclusions that collectively, those sites are reaching. It’s about the alignment of goals of both teams, establish the strategies together, clear definition between the two teams, and move in unison and share success. If that’s the net-view of those five sites then I wholly agree.

Whilst I disagreed with one of those sites, I don’t think any of them got it right on their own, I do agree with the aggregated view of the five sites. Let me share with you, though, the findings from our most recent alignment study, and in particular the ten conclusions that we’ve reached from studying over 500 businesses on the topic of aligning, marketing, and sales.

We studied over 500 businesses on the topic of aligning, marketing, and sales and what we found, 10 things: investing over the odds in training produces a positive lift in performance and alignment, but only if you view the system as a whole. What I was getting at there is that you need to look at the end-to-end, not just marketing’s piece, if you do that then over-investing in training does lift performance – but in some strange ways. Take a look at the report and you’ll see what I mean.

Secondly, the sales processes – it’s process not training – does improve marketing outcomes. Marketing processes does include sales outcomes. Oddly enough, sales process didn’t do much for sales and marketing process didn’t do much for marketing, but shared process lift both – that’s not surprising. Planning jointly, quickly, and often does lift performance of the aggregated engine. Automation doesn’t deliver confidence – this kind of surprised me. That is, people who used automation found out that they had more questions than answers, but it did deliver skyline affordability – and that’s a good enough argument for me.

Renaming the CRM stages – and I should say, “And your marketing motivation stages” – to buyer language not seller language, improves the quality of early stage leads. In other words, think about the buyer and you’ll generate better leads. Kind of in itself unsurprising, but take a look at your own CRM. So many CRMs have seller stages not buyer stages.

Marketing needs to report to the CEO, or the sales, but not to a divisional or shared boss. I hate that, but I believe it. Marketing needs to be held accountable , holding the feet to the fire does actually work.

Here’s a surprising one: demand is more important than brand – that’s not the surprising bit – but only up to a point. If you over-invest in demand and under-invest in brand, your success actually starts to drop off. There is an optimal amount found in the report.

Marketing tactics early in the journey have more effect on closure rates than do sales tactics. In other words, sweat your tactics, but probably more for marketing than for sales.

Finally, marketing sales, alignment, and effectiveness vary wildly between countries.

Take a look at the full report if you haven’t already – align.me/alignment – got all of the links, including to our earlier research. You can download it from there, so I encourage you to do that.

I hope you found that useful. Here’s something you can do to help me to help you. If you haven’t already, subscribe. Subscribe at align.me/blog or at youtube.com/alignmeb2b. What that lets us do is to notify you as soon as we got fresh new content and you’ll get it before anybody else – that’s number one. Number two: Share those links with your friends. We can only afford to keep on investing in this if lots of people are viewing it and you can help us with that step. We would ask you to share with colleagues. Thirdly, let me know – take a look at this email address, [email protected] – and can I ask you to let us know what topics you would like me to cover in future blogs. Happy to take guidance as I did on this one.

That’s it for this week’s show. I hope you got lots out of it. I enjoyed it. I look forward to seeing you next week and until then, may your funnel be full and always flowing.