Despite all of content you read regarding Sales & Marketing “alignment,” the reality is that little to no progress has been made.
Even with the “Chief Revenue Officer” trend, there are many definitions that only ultimately work if marketing+sales+customer success all report directly to the CRO. In most organizations, if you dig a bit deeper into the reporting structure beyond the titles, this just isn’t the case.
Given my background, I often get asked from Marketing professionals, “Why is my VP Sales so challenging to work with?”
The objective here is to give you a glimpse into the mindset of a VP Sales and also how the Marketing team can be valued 10X more.
How can you tell what your VP Sales REALLY thinks about Marketing?
Take the VP Sales out for a few pints and ask them the following question (after pint #2……. but before pint #4)
- “I’m curious, on a scale of 0-10, how am I helping you achieve your revenue target?”
If the reply is a 10: buy another pint and then ask the question again. This means something is very odd and they aren’t even being slightly truthful.
8,9, Translation: I feel that you are an integrated part of the Sales team. Well done. You can stop reading this and skip to the bottom.
6,7, Translation: This really means you’re a 5 and they’re just being polite. This is what you’ll hear the vast majority of the time.
5, Translation: This really means you’re not helping much. The VP Sales feels like anything Marketing delivers is better than nothing but incremental at best. It’s bonus. Ultimately the revenue target is on their head and they have to focus on what they control explicitly, where their sales team invests their time. Outbound.
0-4, Translation: You’ll likely never get this response because the VP Sales doesn’t want to completely alienate you. If this really is the case, one of you is likely out the door soon.
How to become a 9?
Step 1) Empathy (a strong dose)
Go sit in the trenches with the sales team on a regular basis. Physically sit with them on sales calls, in person sales meetings and when they prep/debrief after calls.
Don’t ask them to invite you (that’s lazy), be proactive, look at their calendars and ask them to sit on a specific call. If you are proactive, sales people will embrace your participation. “Hi Bob, I saw that you have an upcoming pitch with X, mind if i just sit and be a fly on the wall? I really want to get more context as to how things work in the field so we can improve our support of sales.”
Step 2) Eat a small piece of your own dogfood
Before you develop the next brilliant iteration of the sales deck, go pitch this deck yourself. Find a few low quality prospects that you can practice how the material actually works. The single fact that you have pitched this to a prospect will single handedly gain you massive respect with your sales team. How many times has the creator of the deck pitched it themselves first? Very close to 0.
“Hi sales team, here’s our updated deck that we’ll be training you on and I have personally pitched this to X prospects and made several iterations to refine it.”
How to become a 10?
Step 3) Sign yourself up to a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) quota
Sales Qualified means that the sales team has reviewed the Lead and determined it meets the minimum requirements for them to own and run with. Although there is much written about this, I rarely come across a Marketing team where their #1 KPI is actually SQLs.
But if you proactively sign yourself up this it sends a strong signal to the sales team that you are aligned 100% to support Shipping Revenue. You’re accountable.
Write it up on the whiteboard for everyone to see:
SQLs delivered this Week: X
SQLs delivered this Month: Y
Why even go to this trouble? Your sales team will be winning more deals, which means everyone is winning more deals. There’s nothing better for company morale than winning customers.
Revenue Solves All Problems
Attention Sales Professionals
Be sure to show your genuine appreciation for Marketing’s efforts that directly align with you shipping revenue. Publicly acknowledge specific examples that helped and show your appreciation at a 1:1 level. (ie take some of your commission and pay it forward: bottle of wine, tickets to game, bring coffee to their desk(s), hand written note, get creative and show your appreciation which will help you close more deals….and make more money.)
If you’re in a situation where Marketing is not being proactive, then simply pull them into these direct conversations.
I’m constantly in that position where my team needs to hear unfiltered feedback from the prospect directly. If it comes from me/sales, then it’s filtered and has significantly less effect. Go ask them directly to join you in pitches.
Revenue is everyone’s responsibility. We have customers, they pay us, everyone in the company impacts the customer from invoicing, documentation, uptime, product roadmap delivery, bug fixing, how professional we interact with our customer, even how our office looks when customers visit…..everyone.
At the end of the day, We Are All In Sales
a) Own an SQL quota. Do this and you’ll instantly be aligned with Sales and see the direct effect on revenue.
b) Go physically sit on sales calls and join in person meetings with prospects
c) Pitch your content to prospects before you hand off to Sales
a) Before banging the self-serving Gong, show your appreciation for Marketing’s efforts by acknowledging them publicly
b) Find ways to demonstrate your appreciation by sharing your commission in thoughtful ways
c) Pull marketing directly into your conversations so the context is unfiltered
Please “like & share” this if you feel it was valuable. Add questions or comments and I’ll reply.
And of course if you need more SQLs from your existing funnel leverage the “Product Qualified Lead” (PQL) methodology. Whalr’s data science team can help you leverage our Best Practices we’ve learned the hard way. See examples here.
Featured Image: Screen Rant