Misalignment between sales and marketing in an age-old problem for B2B marketers. It often stems from the leads that marketing passes to sales. In its worst case, sales assume every lead they get from marketing has no value. It becomes a vicious cycle; marketing sends leads to sales; sales reject the leads or doesn’t pursue them at all. The more leads marketing sends to sales, the more the sales team thinks the marketing leads are bad. What follows are some steps to take to get marketing aligned and improve everyone’s outcomes.
1) Sales Doesn’t Care About Your Problems: Sales only cares about selling and the sooner you recognize this the sooner you will get alignment. Telling sales leaders that you don’t have a budget for something or don’t have time, will get you nowhere. You need to understand the outcomes you want to drive as a marketing team and align them with the company’s sales and business objectives. You also need to get your entire team aligned around this approach so that there is a single and consistent message from marketing to sales. Keep in mind, they are your customer.
2) Align Marketing Goals to Sales Goals: You need to understand what sales are striving for to be able to align your approach. This is far more complex than just understanding what the sales target is. To build out an effective marketing and demand generation strategy, you need to know what makes sales tick and how to influence them by knowing:
3) Have a Dialog and be Transparent: You need to establish a dialog with sales. These conversations should focus on how marketing and sales can work together collaboratively. You need to be transparent about the metrics you use and how they align with business outcomes. They need to happen across all levels of sales, from leadership all the way through account executives. A basic framework for topics and audiences are:
4) Give Sales a Seat at the Table: When designing marketing programs and campaigns, give sales a seat at the table. Set up a marketing advisory council made up of key sales leaders and account executives. Getting the sales team more engaged will deliver many benefits, including:
5) Build Processes to Ensure Success: Make sure that the flow of leads to sales follow a clear process, that sales and marketing have agreed on. There should be service level agreements (SLAs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) in place as well that are also signed off on. Some examples to consider are:
Following these steps will help you get more aligned with sales. Over time it will reduce friction and increase collaboration. It will also help enhance the business impact that marketing and sales have on the business.
Writing good quality B2B prospecting emails that get a reaction is not as easy as it seems. Doing it as a team is one way to improve your outcomes, as long as you have a set of guiderails in place. The following tips will help guide individual business development reps and account executives on how to optimize their outcomes. Getting your team together on a weekly basis to walk through what is working and what is not, will lead to greater success as the team can continuously improve their subject lines, email copy, and CTAs to improve your overall business impact.
1) Get it Open: Subject Lines That Work
2) Optimize Engagement: Messages That Resonate with Buyers
3) Timing: When You Send Has a Significant Impact on Results
4) Following Up: Being Persistent is Key
5) Continuous Improvement: Analyze Results and Outcomes
As marketing increasingly takes the lead on advancing organizations’ digital transformation, they can only be successful by taking ownership of setting goals, communicating them, and closely following their progress. Use these four points to build a closer relationship between marketing and IT around shared objectives and watch your IT road map unfold without a hitch.
1) Hire the right marketing people
The relationship between marketing and IT can be aided by hiring the right people with the right skills…look for people with a good depth of marketing skill, who also understand how technology works. They should know how feasible a project is, and be able to see IT’s point of view if the tech team raises objections. Without having the right person to bridge the gap and act as a mediator between the two teams, marketing will think the world is possible, and blame IT when it can’t be done.
Once you have the right people in house, build the relationship with IT. If either marketing or IT team members aren’t in the office, schedule a time to meet in person to talk through and understand objectives. A major key to success is building personal relationships with each side and working to understand everyone’s end goals, personalities, work styles, and then finding a way to work together.
2) Make sure everyone knows why
Your written road map should cover marketing’s functional needs and the technology pieces that fit into it. This gives both marketing and IT a common view of the needs, the current technology, and the path to tomorrow’s software, infrastructure, and more.
It’s most important to define the outcomes, which are a huge part of digital transformation. Are you looking to improve productivity, nurture customer engagement, promote new services, or kick-off a completely new venture? The answer will structure the program and determine who is engaged in it.
From there, prioritize projects with IT at the table. Identify where technology fuels your marketing strategy and ask the IT team how to map them. What’s most important? What’s least important? What interrelates?
Agree to a longer-term road map, starting with 12 months, and then advancing to a two-year rolling time frame of what you see coming down the road. Plan everything from a financial standpoint, and work in lockstep with IT to realize the plan.
3) As the stakeholder, have a stake
When conferring with IT, don’t just send who’s available, send who has the best possible background to interface with the team. Marketing must understand that there’s a business imperative behind the project and it can’t simply be pushed down the chain of command.
If adopting new software is my idea, and I assign somebody on my team to run with it, and I don’t pay attention, there are consequences. They may not understand my original objectives and head down a path that will required significant time, effort, and cost to get back on track.
It all comes down to good governance. If you identify a problem, whether in communication, process or objective, there must be a good mechanism in place to escalate that issue to the right level and get an answer fast.
4) Keep everyone’s eyes on the road
At a minimum, marketing should hold monthly meetings with IT just to go over the road map and update each other on where everything stands. For a recent web project, we held weekly calls with IT that allowed us to ramp up the work and launch the project on time.
Part of the focus in setting a road map for digital transformation should always be ongoing course correction to make sure the outcome of the project is what it’s intended to be. With frequent, regular check-ins, you can quickly identify any misalignments and fix them before the intended outcomes get lost.