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Sales and Marketing Alignment

Olin Hyde

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Episode 4: Sales and Marketing Alignment. This topic confounds countless B2B marketers, and it doesn't need to. What are the top things you should be doing? Are there any guiding principles? Why is sales and marketing alignment even important? We'll cover that and more on today's episode of the Green and Greene show. LeadCrunch[ai] is creating a movement to change the way people build relationships in the B2B demand generation space. Discover the power of B2B lookalike audience targeting. ABM enabled! Check us out at https://leadcrunch.com/solutions

Posted by LeadCrunch on Thursday, November 1, 2018

Hosts: J.David Green and Jonathan Greene

Topic: Organizational

Subtopic: Sales & Marketing Alignment

Duration: 14 minutes



[0:00:16.2] JG: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to episode four of the Green & Greene Show.

My guest, as always, J. David Green. Today, we’re talking about sales and marketing alignment, which is something that you’re a stone-cold expert at and I am not. I’m going to share the floor copiously today. What would you say is your background in sales and marketing alignment? Why is it that you are other-worldly good at this?

[0:00:52.2] JDG: So much in life of being good at anything in life is deciding that you want to be good at the thing. I’ve interviewed hundreds of salespeople. I’ve interviewed so many salespeople, it’s like that movie Groundhog Day. It’s the same conversation over and over again. There’s always a funny anecdote about what isn’t a lead from marketing from a sales rep. Then, there’s an anguished cry that they wish they got leads and how sad it is that they don’t.

I’ve also talked to lots and lots of marketing people and done things like help set up service level agreements between sales and marketing and things like that. Those are some of my credentials, I guess.

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[0:01:48.1] JG: I’m a marketer, and I get the sales plight on some level. If we’re being real, sometimes, I feel like they’re there they’re playing soccer and taking the dive and rolling around on the field, because somebody kicked them in the shin, you know what I mean? For my perspective as a marketer, why would you say alignment with sales is important? Why should I even care about this?

Why is alignment with sales and marketing important?

[0:02:12.9] JDG: First of all, you’re never going to have any success in B2B if you can’t get the salespeople to help. All the revenue is going to go through them. All of it. If you want to be perceived as somebody who’s helping with that, then you have to get their help in following up on the leads that you generate in a rapid and high-quality fashion, and also providing you with the feedback you need, so that you can course correct and report on what you’re doing. If you don’t have that, you’re just not going to have success, period. That’s probably all there is to it.

[0:02:56.2] JG: Or if there is success, none of it is going to be attributed to what you’ve done.

[0:02:59.5] JDG: That’s right.

[0:03:02.2] JG: We always see those gargantuan efforts for the sales team while marketing is like, “Well, I did stuff, but….” I mean, is there an overarching set of guiding principles for this, or how can you impart your knowledge to us here?

Some guiding principles on how this can work

[0:03:18.0] JDG: I think the first thing is to do what I heard David Lewis at DemandGen say once. Marketing isn’t dictating to sales how to do their job. You guys have to follow up on these leads, you have to make this many calls in this period of time. That’s not the way it works. They’re not going to do that. They’re there to make their quota. If helping you gets them to that, then they’re open to it.

You have to go there, with your palms outstretched, and talk about taking a journey together, in a friendly way, in a collaborative way. That’s number one. I think number two is goal alignment. It’s hard to get on the same page if the goal of marketing is to generate some high volume of leads and the goal of sales is to surpass quota. Those two things may have a correlation, but a lot of times, they don’t. I think it’s better that both teams get on the same page and say, “Our job as marketers is to help sales surpass its quota.” That’s the thing that gets everybody on the same page. Then you can always ask yourself, “Is this going to help sales surpass its quota?” It’s a simple guiding principle that you can check.

The third thing is that less is more. I think a lot of marketers get into a ditch by chasing volume. When you look at the number of deals for any company which result in the revenue, it’s a really small number relative to the volume of leads produced. It’s better to find a smaller number of leads that actually convert than it is a high volume of leads that don’t. Having a high volume of leads that don’t convert is actually worse than not generating any leads at all, because you waste time and resources in the sales organization screwing around with your crappy leads. That’s never good for alignment.

The fourth principle is another one that I found to be really helpful, and that’s to look at sales as a marketing channel. It’s an unscalable marketing channel, but they can be extremely relevant and helpful. You want to be very careful about where you use them because they’re very expensive to use.

If you see that you’re trying to drive people through the buyer’s journey and salespeople are going to be necessary sometimes at the front, you have to be very careful about where you would want to deploy that resource, or the company can’t scale.

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[0:06:05.7] JG: It’s not about just shoving leads down the sales organization’s throat, but making sure that you’re presenting the right leads at the right time, so that things are actually happening with them.

[0:06:14.0] JDG: Exactly. Then the final part is to play a little bit of a product management role and look at the leads that you generate as the product you’re creating, and the sales people as the customers of those leads. Believe me, they were getting leads and generating them on their own long before you showed up. They’ll continue to do that if your leads suck. You’re in competition with any of the other resources that they have, including cold-calling.

Look at them. You might find that, if you’re in a larger organization, there’s a certain approach you need to take for that group versus another group, just like you would have different products in your portfolio to serve different segments of your market. A good example of that is account-based marketing. I think account-based marketing was really born because people started to look more empathetically at their lead customers who were covering large accounts, saying, “Hey, we need a different approach here in order to really help this part of the sales organization.”

What are the top things a marketer should be thinking about doing?

[0:07:20.2] JG: That really makes sense to me, but let’s get tactical for a minute. I love strategy as much as the next guy, but let’s talk tactics because people have to actually go out and do this. What are the top things a marketer should be thinking about doing? If you’re maybe the guy who’s going to flesh out that relationship and that sales handoff, what are the top things you need to be doing?

[0:07:43.5] JDG: I would say the single most important thing is to try to get an SDR function in place. SDR is Sales Development Rep. That’s an inside rep who does not carry a quota and whose only job is to follow up on marketing leads. It can also be at a prospect, but that’s a different conversation. An SDR who’s dedicated to inbound, who’s only following up on marketing leads and usually setting up an appointment for a sales rep. They’re doing some level of qualification in that process and setting things up.

The reason that’s so important is it goes to that “less is more” principle. You’re doing a certain level of manual filtering on behalf of the sales team which makes what you do much more valuable than if they have to go do that. You have the chance of a really rapid follow-up. There are a lot of reasons to do that, but I think it’s hard to have great success if you’re sending your leads out to a field sales rep, who isn’t sitting around his computer waiting to respond to a lead, and speed matters with that. Maybe he doesn’t always have the bandwidth to follow up X number of times through all these different channels in order to get a meeting. That’s one.

Two (again, part of the less is more), you need to put in lead scoring and lead nurturing. Most of the leads you generate are not ready. It’s disrespectful to customers to voice them over to a sales rep and have sales try to hound them to death when they have no buying intent at all.

I think lead scoring and lead nurturing are musts. If you’re not doing that, you’re not going to be successful. Then, a service level agreement which is where sales agrees to do a certain amount of follow-up and you need to talk that through. Sales agrees to report back, and you agree to some requirements. Don’t send over leads that don’t have e-mail addresses. Don’t send over leads that have bad e-mail addresses.

There are some things you need to agree upon, and you need to talk that through. You need to help them understand the trade-offs. They may want a lot. “I want a phone number, I want a mobile phone number, blah, blah, blah.” Well, great. You’re not going to get a very high volume, because the more I ask for, the less you’re going to get, the fewer the volume. They just need to understand and do that. Then you need to work at that service level agreement. Whatever you came up with initially may not be what you need later on, or you may not have thought through some aspects of it. You need to chip away at that over time.

[0:10:37.4] JG: Anything else on that? It seems like you have one more.

[0:10:39.7] JDG: Yeah, there’s one more thing. There’s a lot that’s involved in this, but I would say this is the other one. This is where all the money leaks out of your funnel, not all of it, but a lot. That’s the actual handoff from marketing to a person who’s going to try to get in touch with the customer and set up a meeting. You really have to put a lot of focus on that and make sure that the amount of follow-up is correct, how they’re following up is correct, and that you get feedback, so that you can course correct if you’re not delivering what you should deliver to really help.

There’s a lot to that. Generally, the high-level principles are sales can look at the lead and reject it out of hand. Salespeople make a living trying to figure out whether somebody’s going to buy or not and how to spend their time. Let them do that. They’re either right or wrong, but that gives you a record of why they did it before the meeting happens, or they acted on the lead.

Number two, if they reject leads, they have to say why. I’d keep it simple. I wouldn’t have a long laundry list; things like, wrong account, no interest, whatever the rejection rates are. Again, you need that. You need to talk through it and keep on top of it, so you understand that one of three things happens. The salesperson had a misunderstanding of what the agreement is, so now there’s a chance to get that person on the right page. There was some mistake that you made that you weren’t aware of, and now you have a chance to course-correct moving forward. Maybe you’re both a little bit right and there’s something neither of you have seen, and so you can both benefit by that feedback. Those are the really, really, really important, high-level things you have to do for sales and marketing alignment.

[0:12:40.9] JG: I think closing that loop is super important. It’s unfair to expect sales to perform with bad leads, and it’s unfair to expect marketing to provide good leads in the absence of feedback. That’s super important for performance.

Well, that’s about all the time we have. We’re trying to keep these short and simple. Next time, we’re going to talk about what you actually need to do to get a service level agreement in place. After that, we’ll talk about the handoff processes and some research that you might want to do to build the case for all these things. I’m very excited about that.

As always, I’m going to show you this URL. It’s leadcrunch.com/waitlist. We are going to be turning all these videos into a certification course at some point in time. If you would like to be involved with that, either to help us structure and develop the course or to be one of the first to go through, we would love to have you. It’s leadcrunch.com/waitlist. Go ahead and give that a look and sign up. I promise we won’t spam you to death. We’ll just let it lie until it’s time to go, and then we’ll shoot you an e-mail.

David, thank you so much for being with me. This has been a really great episode. I think I learned more on this episode than I have on any other. Thanks for the fantastic insight.

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[0:13:50.9] JDG: Thanks, Jonathan. You’re too kind.

[0:13:52.9] JG: All right, guys. This has been episode 4 of the Green & Greene Show. We’ll catch you maybe tomorrow, maybe next week (you don’t really know, it’s part of the fun) with Episode 5. Until then, hope you guys have a fantastic week and we’ll talk to you later.