Looking for a Keynote speaker on Sales and Marketing Alignment?

I'm excited to announce that I am now available to speak on the topic of Sales and Marketing Alignment at no cost. I've chosen to partner with FreeSpeakers.org to present "Togetherness: Achieving Sales and Marketing Alignment"  in order to help organizations and groups of all sizes understand the importance of aligning these two business functions.  Having worked in several sales and marketing roles throughout my career, I am committed to helping B2B companies truly understand how to leverage the strengths of these two highly interdependent groups to drive revenue. The goal of this presentation is to help CEOs and other customer-facing executives think differently about how sales and marketing should interact. With increased scrutiny for marketing to demonstrate the ROI of their activities and it becoming increasingly hard for B2B salespeople to even get in front of customers, the old way of doing business is no longer an option. This presentation focuses on using evidence-based research and empirical knowledge to propose real-world strategies and tactics that work.

The key objectives of the presentation are to:

  • Establish an understanding of the detrimental effects that occur by not aligning sales and marketing
  • Explore the key reasons why this relationship continues to be a challenge for most organizations
  • Examine strategies and tactics to promote cohesiveness between these two functions that will lead to improvements in achieving revenue targets.

If this topic is a fit for your next conference or event, feel free to request me to speak at FreeSpeakers.org. Take a look at me presenting at Ignite Chicago.

Best Social Selling Stacks for High-Performing B2B Salespeople

This guest blog was written by Mindi Rosser over at mindirosser.com

You’ve heard about social selling. You know you need to be active on social media to get the most from your sales efforts. But, you already have a way of doing things to get the sale. Is it even worth throwing social media into the mix? Or trying something different on social media? This article will demonstrate why social selling is worth the effort if done right and how you can put together a social selling strategy based on your experience.

The secret to doing social selling well is using the right social media stack (a group of technologies that salespeople leverage to execute, analyze and improve their social media activities) and tailoring it to the B2B salespeople. Here are some tools that salespeople can use that are effective in selling and that marketing can help salespeople actually execute.

According to CSO Insights, good social selling training increases win rates by 38% and quota attainment by 51%. If you are not yet comfortable using social selling, now is the time to get started.

You’re not interested in using social media for social media’s sake. You want social media efforts to help you get the attention of your buyers and move them through the sales process. Which social selling tools should you be using?

If you are just getting started on social media, there’s no point in building an elaborate stack, you want to keep it simple. If you are an advanced user, you are looking for ways to up your game and generate better ROI from your efforts. No matter whether you think you’re an expert or consider yourself a newb, check out the tools in each stack and exactly how to use them. You may find a new tactic to try with that tool.

The Beginner Stack

This stack is ideal for those of you who want to spend 15-60 minutes per day on social channels. You may not be extremely comfortable using social media, but you know it’s important, especially within a complex sale environment.

Here’s the stack I would recommend:

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Yes, only two tools. If I had only two tools to use in my social selling efforts, it would be LinkedIn and Twitter. Here’s why.

LinkedIn

50% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn when making purchasing decisions Your buyers are on LinkedIn, and they are researching your company and looking you up on LinkedIn.

If your profile does not stand out, you are missing a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself. Personal branding matters. Make your profile about how you can help buyers, and they will take a call or book a demo.

With the new LinkedIn user interface, they can easily tell if you are active or inactive on LinkedIn by the types of activity on your profile. Be sure to engage regularly with your network to appear active.

Twitter

While LinkedIn is a one-to-one network, Twitter is typically used as a one-to-many network. Marketers tend to love Twitter because they can do more broadcasting and drive traffic to websites. For sales purposes, you can set yourself apart by using Twitter as a one-to-one network.

By monitoring keywords, questions and conversations from buyers, you can identify opportunities to engage with them. Being helpful—without coming across as too salesy—goes a long way on Twitter. Look for ways to be helpful, whether or not it results in a direct sale, and you will become a trusted source on Twitter. This video interview by the Salesman Podcast with Jamie Shanks emphasizes the importance of aligning with influencers in your industry and becoming part of the conversation.

Beginner Stack Checklist:

  • Post one status update per week on LinkedIn.
  • Like or comment on someone else’s LinkedIn status update daily.
  • Follow your prospects’ LinkedIn company pages.
  • Spend time going through your LinkedIn feed daily.
  • Tweet once a day about something prospects would find helpful or interesting.
  • Set up a monitoring system on Tweetdeckuse keywords, hashtags and search terms related to what you are offering
  • Check into Tweetdeck daily to see if there conversations where you can be helpful.
  • Follow prospects and prospect companies on Twitter.

The Intermediate Stack

If you have mastered the basics of social selling with LinkedIn and Twitter, you might be ready to add a couple new tools to your stack. These do take an additional investment, especially if you are springing for a Sales Navigator account on your own dime. But, a Sales Navigator account will help you shave at least an hour per day, once you have optimized your account.

Here’s the stack I would recommend:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • Social Scheduling Tool

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Sales Navigator is built on LinkedIn’s platform and is tailored to the B2B sales professional, who is trying to identify prospects at target companies, connect with them, organize them, keep in touch at the right time and get their attention.

If you are trying to close complex sales using only the free version of LinkedIn, you will lack advanced search, monitoring and messaging capabilities. You can technically work around these features on the free or premium versions of LinkedIn, but it’s not worth the trouble.

One of the benefits to using Sales Navigator is connecting it to your CRM and pushing data between the two platforms. On its own, Sales Navigator is powerful, but the real power is in the integration with your sales technology tools.

If you have a Sales Navigator account and want to use it like a boss, I would recommend this article by Tony Hughes. He shows you exactly how to make the most of your investment.

Social Scheduling Tool

We’ve discussed the importance of sharing relevant content across social media, but it can be challenging to remember to do this every day. That’s where a social scheduler can help.

Marketers like to give you their formulas for the amount and types of content you should be sharing in pretty ratios, like the 411 strategy, but what salesperson wants to plan their content with this formula? None that I know!

A better rule of thumb is to share some of your own content, whether this is your company’s content or your own thought leadership content, and other people’s content. As long as you are sharing both types, you can build trust with your prospects.

To share this content frequently, you need to use a social scheduling tool to sprinkle that content over a span of days. For many B2B companies, the work week is a typical 9-5, Monday through Friday work week. Set your social scheduling tool to post during those times.

Two tools I’d recommend are Buffer (the free plan works well for most salespeople) and Hootsuite (if you want an all-in-one tool that can schedule to all your social channels and monitor Twitter).

During the week, when you come across content that might be helpful to your prospects, add it to Buffer (if you know you want to share it) or to InstaPaper (if you want to read the article later and decide whether or not to share it.)

At the beginning of each week, check your social scheduling tool to be sure you have enough content in there to share to Twitter at least daily (if not 3-5x per day) and to LinkedIn at least daily. If you do a good job of filling up your queues as-you-go, you might not need to add more content to your queues.

The Advanced Stack

You’ve moved beyond the basics and mastered Sales Navigator and are sharing great content. It’s time to amp your stack and get the most from your social selling efforts. This is where personal branding and thought leadership can help top sales performers edge out their competition. When a prospect comes across you and a competitor on social media, who will they trust more? The one with a few pieces of thought leadership content, an optimized profile and a history of interacting on social media.

Here’s the stack I would recommend:

  • LinkedIn Pulse
  • Advanced Social Listening Tool

LinkedIn Pulse

When I suggest to salespeople that they need a personal brand and thought leadership content, I often get the line, “I don’t have time for that marketing stuff. I’m too busy selling.” I get it. B2B sales is challenging and takes a lot of time, hustle and grit.

LinkedIn’s study shows that 92% of B2B buyers engage with sales professionals who are known as industry thought-leaders.

You don’t need to generate a lot of content, but you will get an edge if you publish interesting content to LinkedIn Pulse. And, it’s not about getting a large number of views or engagement. It’s about having a relatively fresh piece of content that answers buyer’s questions or touches on a hot topic in the industry.

If you prefer to outsource the writing part, you could ask a content marketing or sales enablement team member for help in creating and/or publishing your content. I find that most marketers are more than willing to co-create content or ghostwrite articles. You can also repurpose content or interviews you have done elsewhere in the past 3-6 months.

As for frequency, I would suggest publishing one article to LinkedIn Pulse every 30-60 days. This demonstrates to prospects that you are current on what matters to them and how your company is best suited to solving their problems.

Advanced Social Listening

You are already accustomed to using Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to monitor online conversations, but you can take that monitoring to the next level with a tool, like SproutSocial. It is geared towards marketing agencies, but I’ve found that its functionalities are well-suited to social selling.

The best feature for social sellers is the Smart Inbox. In less than five minutes, you can set up some advanced searches with keywords specific to your buyers. Then, you can be alerted to any questions/comments/conversations on Twitter (and even Instagram) that use those keywords. This is one of the best ways to never miss a social conversation that pertains to you and your company.

When you catch these conversations, you can jump in with a helpful suggestion or an answer to their question. This is not the time for a company pitch. If your suggestion is helpful, they will check out your profile and notice which company you work for. This builds your credibility and that of your company. They will subconsciously associate your company with trustworthiness. And, that’s exactly what social selling is all about.So, there you have it. Six tools to use in your social selling toolbox. Which of these do you plan to try next? Any that you want to learn more about? Let’s discuss! You can tweet me @mindirrosser or connect with me on LinkedIn.


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Mindi Rosser is a social media strategist for hire, who specializes in helping brands, businesses and people look great online. As a digital native, she has spent nearly a decade working with B2B and B2C companies on developing and implementing strategic marketing programs. She also consults for The Conversion Company, an online marketing firm helping B2B companies and executives use social media to drive dramatic business results. Connect with Mindi on LinkedIn or tweet her (@mindirrosser) to chat about all things social selling. You can also follow her blog at http://www.mindirosser.com.

Alignment between Sales and Marketing starts with an integrative approach to new employees

This guest blog post was written by Aurelien Gohier over at btobmarketingsales.com. 

We know that company culture effects alignment between sales and marketing. I discovered Jeff’s writings by reading about the terrible effect that misalignment between sales and marketing could have on a business development - World War B2B: The misalignment of sales and marketing. I deeply care about this topic, for the very simple reason that all the companies I have been involved with in the past have suffered, in one way or another, from such type of misalignment, at different levels of severity of course.

I have only been active on the B2B marketing & sales scene since 2009, but there is one aspect that has always challenged me: why does it seem so tremendously complex to end this war between B2B marketing & B2B sales? I mean, I have mostly worked with intelligent people, capable of great things, kind hearted individuals, and despite this I have always seen my top of management struggling to ensure alignment between sales & marketing.

Jamie Shanks, author of “Social Selling Mastery” explains that “alignment between sales and marketing occurs when your team begins to create metrics around the handshake between sales and marketing.” and I cannot agree more with him. Indeed, having people working with the same objectives is a key to success. However, imposing common metrics on sales and marketing cannot be effective in the long run, without a consistent company culture.

Company culture should unify

What I want to highlight in this article is how company culture effects alignment between sales and marketing and most importantly how successful alignment starts with unifying new sales / marketing employees. Indeed, you can judge a successful onboarding process for new marketers when he/she can clearly answer the following questions after his/her first three months in the company:

  • What will I do to be able to deliver better leads to our sales team?
  • How do I track and calculate the revenue I contributed by those actions?
  • At which point will I consider myself a successful marketer?
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When I was hired by my current employer, I spent one month shadowing a sales person, physically meeting the client, attending all his internal meetings, talking to partners, attending strategic events and much more. This gave me a clear understanding of the sales reality and sales challenges, which made my first actions as a B2B marketer more accurate. Why? Because after this one month in sales I was able to answer the above three questions and had a clear view of the change I wanted to inspire in this company. This very simple integrative approach had a prospective impact on my credibility and effectiveness in my decision making as a marketer, as well as an impact on the marketing department's credibility collectively.

Of course this principal should be applied the other way around. Make your new sales people work in the marketing team for a couple of weeks, to allow them to understand what the marketing department’s primary challenges are, make sales and marketing informally brainstorm together to make the alignment stronger. Understanding each other’s pain points and challenges is key to a proper B2B sales & B2B marketing alignment.

No Magic Recipe

As Lauren Frye mentions in an article about “Why B2B Marketers Don’t Like Articles on Sales Alignment”, “when articles talk about a proposed solution to sales and marketing alignment, it’s doubtful that one specific solution will work for every team”. There is no magic recipe to making alignment successful, but what we know is that the B2B sales process is generally much more complex that in B2C, so it is even more important to be able to execute a cohesive sales and marketing alignment strategy for your B2B company.


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Aurélien has been working in the B2B Software Industry since 2009. Besides his position of Web & Digital Marketing Manager at ESI Group, he is Founder of BtoB Marketing Sales blog and of BtoB Marketing Sales Podcast. He is endlessly passionate about B2B Marketing and Sales, and his vision of those two domains are deeply humane but very focused on driving tangible results. Aurélien is a huge fan of ball sports, technology, music & an uncontrollable TV show addict. Feel free to contact him directly by email, on Twitter @Aurelien_Gohier and to follow his B2B blogs via LinkedIn.

Pipeline Marketing must include Sales in 2017

As B2B companies look into 2017 they should not only look at how Marketing can generate more revenue but how Sales can help pull through these strategies. It will make the job of both functions easier if they have a conversation about the pipeline marketing strategies that will be used. This knowledge can help Sales understand more clearly how they can benefit from the activities that Marketing plans to execute. The 2016 State of Pipeline Marketing Report (sponsored by Bizible, Heinz Marketing, Radius, Reachforce, and Uberflip) shares a lot of strategic and tactical information that many B2B marketing teams can benefit from. Beyond just reviewing the marketing plan for 2017, marketing teams need to explore how their sales colleagues can benefit from each of the strategies to help drive revenue. Questions should be asked like - "How can Sales help pull through our email marketing campaigns?" or "How can we help Sales follow up on potential leads after conferences or other events?"

In a recent article titled "How B2B Marketers Generate Revenue — State of Pipeline Marketing 2016"  the author shares some great infographics that illustrate how B2B marketers are generating revenue for their companies. I think this information provides a perfect template to review and see how Sales can be involved in the type of activities that are being used in pipeline marketing today.  Starting with the top most-used channels is the best way to create momentum for the team.

Top channels for B2B Marketing

  • Social media
  • Content marketing
  • SEO (tied)
  • WOM / referrals (tied)
  • Conferences / events
  • Paid search

Let's help Sales and Marketing drive revenue together!

Use the power of tribal knowledge or die

Leaders of most B2B companies know the reality of fierce competition in this space. Customers are being blasted by vendors on a never-ending basis. Research shows that they are getting quite annoyed by it. No one probably feels the pressure of trying to make things happen more than B2B salespeople. In fact, a recent survey found that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, callback rates are below 1%, and only 24% of outbound sales emails are ever opened. The Harvard Business Review posed the question - "Why are more and more buyers avoiding salespeople during the buying process?" Its response - "Sales reps, according to Forrester, tend to prioritize a sales agenda over solving a customer’s problem. If organizations don’t change their outdated thinking and create effective sales models for today’s digital era, Forrester warns that 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce by 2020." It's evident in this type of reality that Sales and Marketing need to be more aligned and focused on getting new customers. Why? Survival.

 

Information is today's survival weapon

In today's hyper-connected world, information is everywhere. It doesn't just come from one source anymore. This fragmented landscape offers an opportunistic advantage to those companies that are able to synthesize this information and gain actionable insights. The only way to do this is to have everyone in customers facing roles focused on seeking new, relevant information and sharing it with the collective group. This will empower the organization to be able to iterate on its strategies and move faster than the competition. If your organization is not nimble, it will be taken out - and not on a date.

Watercooler talk might have been helpful at times, but it was not until the digital age that enterprise employees had the opportunity to leverage the enormous knowledge of the "hive".           --Aberdeen Group

Leaders have to understand that the currency of business is information. In the current digital age, the value of that currency has exploded. We can no longer just have those at the top conduct strategic exercises with that information. We must give it to the troops on the ground that are actually going to battle every day. They need new weapons to compete. We must empower our people with something that differentiates them from everyone else asking - "Can I get five minutes of your time for a demo?". Market knowledge then becomes the new competitive advantage.

Customer and Market Insight

While salespeople gain a lot of customer insights in their daily activities, they don't have the same amount of time that Marketing has to truly gain market insight. What you have then is two groups that have two separate perspectives on reality. What would happen if they were able to combine this knowledge and together cultivate a clearer picture of how to not just react to the market but possibly shape it. One example would be the salesperson bringing the latest marketing knowledge to the customer proactively and helping them get in front of their competitors. What type of value would this bring to the customer? How could this help the salesperson secure more business for the future? A LinkedIn survey found that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry. This is the information to demonstrates how salespeople can benefit from the market knowledge that their marketing colleagues may possess.

Allowing these two flows of information to converge really helps the organization in many ways to get in front of customer's change of appetite and be able to react in a way that doesn't cause the business to go into panic mode.

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I don't think most would argue that the world of B2B is like a jungle. So leaders must decide if we are going to split up and make a run for it or stick together and leverage the skills of those in the group to survive the potential attacks in the future. I, for one, feel safer with a group that is committed to working together so that we all eat and survive.

Salespeople ---> Align with Marketing to make more money [podcast]

I recently had the chance to speak with @DonaldCKelly (The Sales Evangelist) on his podcast about how salespeople can benefit from better alignment with their marketing colleagues. It was a great conversation to address the challenges of selling in B2B today. There are many. What I share with people is simply that Sales and Marketing can no longer survive without each other. People need to stop being selfish and only worried about their small piece of the organization and realize that a rising tide lifts all boats - also known as Togetherness. We also got the chance to talk about why I founded The Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit.  

Highlights from our conversation:

The goals of the Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit:

  • Create a community of sales and marketing professionals focused on growth through better alignment
  • Find and curate the best content for the community
  • Foster collaboration to facilitate meaning change for businesses of all sizes

Factors behind the tension between sales and marketing:

  1. Not data-driven

Many companies look at metrics but are not data-driven. You can generate revenue and not realize you’re losing money because of missed opportunities.

  1. Leadership aspect

If you have a person that comes from sales, you tend to have a sales-driven organization. If you have somebody that comes from marketing, you tend to have a marketing-driven organization. Because the skill sets are very different, it’s difficult to balance the two unless you have an executive team that has experience from both sides.

Sell to Sales!

Sell ideas, concepts, and strategies to sales people when you want them to do something different.

Communicate with sales the reason you’re doing this, why they should care, and how is it going to help them reach their sales goals and make money.

All organizations should be sales-driven and it’s up to leadership to sell the unique attributes that marketing brings to them and how it can make their life easier so they can close more business.

Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing is an essential component to overall high-level strategies which can fall into three buckets:

  1. Take a system approach (versus a functional approach).

Instead of looking at sales as sales and marketing as marketing, look at it from the viewpoint of the customer - they don't know the difference. Start talking about customer journeys and look at it holistically as to how best to  engage potential customer so you get the outcome you want.

  1. Have a formal feedback loop.

Build, measure, learn. Have that continuous conversation between the two so that marketing can iterate strategies and put the best out there for the market.

  1. Focus on shared goals.

In a lot of sales organizations, sales and marketing don’t have the same goals. Regardless of sales or marketing, your primary metric should be, are you hitting revenue? If not, why not?

Metrics you should pay attention to:

  • Are you reaching your target revenue?
  • Correlate to the sales funnel (ex. marketing qualified leads, total lead volume)
  • Middle of the funnel (ex. servicing metrics around service line agreements)
  • Close metrics (ex. close ratio)
  • Find out where majority of revenue is coming from to help you understand where you need to share or push your resources.

More strategies to bridge the gap between sales and marketing:

  1. Raise the conversation from tactical B2B technology to fundamentally changing the way sales and marketing see themselves and the way they interact.
  2. Move them from being independent warriors to really seeing each other as allies and a source of strength.
  3. Convince salespeople that marketing is an asset to them and can help them do their job easier.
  4. Change the focus in your conversations to:

“How does what you’re doing today affect your colleagues?”

“How can you move toward collectively attaining more revenue?”

Sales and marketing in startups:

In startups, you become both sales and marketing.

You have to learn two completely different disciplines and understand when to apply which. It depends on where your customer is throughout their customer journey.

You have to morph back and forth between two things that are fundamentally different in their objective.

Information: Your Competitive Advantage

  • People
  • Process
  • Products

Get information on these three and it will keep you ahead.

Major Takeaway:

Revenue fixes all problems. At the end of the day, focus on revenue and it will tell you the story and what you need to do.

Episode Resources:

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Profit (TV Show)

The spark that will change your view on Sales and Marketing Alignment

One of the things that I've thought a lot about was when did I take a stand to say that "Sales and Marketing not only should work together better but they must for the survival of the business." After much thought, the catalyst event came to mind. This event was so pivotal for me because I not only experienced a change in myself but I witnessed a change in my colleagues as well. So what happened?

I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things. --Mother Teresa

Many years ago I was attending a typical sales meeting. These meetings usually were put together to talk about the state of the business, allow people on the team to network, share best practices, etc. Sometimes these meetings were fruitful and allowed for colleagues to think about the business in a different way; many times even energizing folks to get out there and sell better. More often than not however, they were too frequent and a superfluous repetition of the same stuff we talked about in the last meetings.

This meeting, however was different - little did I know. Our manager had invited someone from the Marketing team to come talk about a new initiative that they were launching aimed at helping Sales become more efficient in selling to customers. While the strategy was not groundbreaking for most marketers it was a concept that wasn't really common in Sales. What this marketer did so eloquently was explain why the Marketing team thought using this framework was important for the company, how it would help Sales sell more efficiently, and how it could be implemented by each individual in the room as soon as the next day.

That's when it hit me.

This wasn't just some new strategy mandated from the Ivory Tower of Marketing because they didn't have anything else better to do, No, this was a tool that could actually help me do my job better. Now it made sense. And not only did it make sense for me but I could see it also made sense for my colleagues. There was an excitement after the presentation that was not typical for a sales meeting. My colleagues were asking questions and trying to figure out with which customers they were going to target first with this new tool. And the questions weren't those "I just need to seem engaged so my boss thinks I care and that I'm a leader" questions. These were genuine questions to gain better understanding.

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From this point on, I recognized the power of open dialogue between Sales and Marketing. What an opportunity to take advantage of! Each group has skills that are uniquely theirs and they should be celebrated, however when each group is able to understand more precisely how their actions impact the other group it creates a powerful synergy that leads to success.

Beginning the journey to Sales and Marketing alignment doesn't have to be a huge undertaking. It can begin with something as simple as a conversation to share ideas.

Empower people with knowledge so they may excel at what they are good at.

Hey, CEO! Alignment is worth it.

Getting CEO support for a Sales and Marketing Alignment effort can be difficult. Although embarking on this journey to better alignment can be a large undertaking, it is worth it. The effect that better alignment has on long-term revenue growth is invaluable. Because of this, leaders must look at SMA as a long-term business improvement strategy. Even more important, you must learn to communicate the benefits of SMA so that the executive team clearly understands why it's worth it.  SMA is not a Sales or Marketing thing - it's a revenue thing. 

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Sales and Marketing leadership cannot implement a successful SMA initiative alone. They need the buy-in and support of the CEO because the effort many times will require the way the organization does business to fundamentally change. Arguably, the key to achieving successful alignment is changing the way Sales and Marketing see each other. This is not about simply adding a sales enablement technology. No.  This is about helping people see the value of their colleagues on the other side of the house. It's both a people and technology issue.

The Research Shows

Aberdeen Group recently released a report titled "Marketing/Sales Alignment 2016: Who is Agile Enough to Win?" In the report, they argue that Best-in-Class enterprises (top 20%) understand that "B2B success today requires changing the traditionally combative relationship between marketing and sales."  A lot of this change is because of the wealth of digital information available about products and services. Conservative estimates have shown that customers are 57% through the purchase process before they approach a supplier [CEB]. However, other sources have estimated the amount to be as high as 70%. This is why companies must react with a highly coordinated response when the customer eventually reaches out.

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The Aberdeen Group study shows us that among a variety of metrics that were strong indicators for success for all companies included, those enterprises with a strong internal sales/marketing relationship show a stronger annual performance improvement. One of the outcomes that should concern the CEO and marketing leadership is that the percent of sales-forecasted pipeline generated by marketing actually decreased. So even if a marketing team increases the volume of leads to Sales, if they are not quality leads it may end up in Marketing doing more work for fewer sales wins. This is a perfect example of learning how to work smarter, not harder.

Is SMA worth it?

I would say "yes" if things like revenue, average deal size, and team attainment of sales quota are important to you. The conversation to the CEO must be broader than just helping Sales and Marketing get along. The conversation with the CEO should focus on all the business performance parameters that are negatively affected by the current state of misalignment. Then the appreciation for how many metrics will improve with better alignment can be seen. Share this vision with the CEO and you will more likely achieve support for SMA in your organization.

Show this video to your CEO about why you are missing revenue goals. It will help. Promise.

Getting support for a Sales and Marketing Alignment effort can be really hard. I found this funny video that explains in very simple terms what Sales and Marketing Alignment really is all about. I think every CEO of a company that is experiencing misalignment should take a look. Although it's very comical, it highlights the fact that you can begin the journey to better alignment with some common sense stuff. And...the negative impact of misalignment on revenue is worth taking on an effort like this. [Tweet "Hey CEO! Sales-Marketing misalignment is killing your revenue growth"]

Once you have your CEO convinced, take a look at my article "Together at Last: How to Achieve Sales and Marketing Alignment" to create a game plan on what to do next.

Hope you enjoy!

What I learned at the first Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit

I had the pleasure of launching the first-ever Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit right here in Chicago. Its goal was simply to help professionals learn how to make Sales and Marketing work together.  Creating this type of business community has been a passion of mine for some time. Thus,  it is exciting to see it actually coming together. I was compelled to create this type of event series because I was frustrated with Sales and Marketing not understanding how to leverage each other's skill set. They need each other to focus on the most important thing for any business - growing revenue. In today's consumer-driven economy, it is more important than ever that Sales and Marketing be able to work together effectively. [Tweet "Sales and Marketing can no longer survive without working together better. The buyer has changed."]

Gaining a better understand of the current research available is one of the key components that I will ensure each summit focuses on. It is critical as more research is conducted and we better understand how to make this alignment work that we share those findings with companies struggling to generate sustainable revenue growth. This will help avoid implementing short-term strategies that many times don't really benefit the business. Instead, companies can adopt sustainable strategies that will make lasting change in the organization. This is my personal goal for all those that choose to be a part of the unique community that I am building.

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The knowledge shared from the expert panel

After I had a chance to reflect on the Summit, I was able to understand the invaluable amount of  knowledge that the expert panel shared with the audience. Not only that, but because we had such an open forum and the audience was able to have a dialogue with the panel, we really got to explore some interesting topics.   For those that were not able to attend the Summit, I hope you will join us in the future. Below are some of the key learnings that I came away with:

  • Variable compensation tied to quality of leads could motivate marketers to a better partnership with Sales
  • A shared dashboard makes accountability easier and can avoid finger pointing when goals are missed
  • A unified dashboard should contain at least 4 metric types - % to Revenue, Lead Generation (Top of Funnel), Service Level (Middle of Funnel), and Revenue Generation (Bottom of Funnel)
  • A new book has been written about this topic - "Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing Teams into a Single Force for Growth" by Tracy Eiler and Andrea Austin
  • The perception that marketers are superior to salespeople still exist
  • Lead scoring can be difficult and must be revisited often to ensure the parameters are still relevant for salespeople
  • Organizations of all sizes can benefit from Sales and Marketing Alignment. The process becomes more complex the larger the organization.
  • Alignment has become more of an issue because the consumer has significantly changed with the proliferation of digital information
  • The CEO must be the catalyst for an organization to be able to move toward Sales and Marketing Alignment. Sales and Marketing leadership can only do so much if they don't have the support of their leader.

Final Thoughts

This event has been a great start to a conversation that has needed to happen for a long time. Sales and Marketing can no longer survive without working together with the economic pressures on most B2B companies today. I encourage you to join us in Chicago for the next Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit in March 2017. Let's continue to push the conversation forward to help achieve more.

[Press Release]: The Sales + Marketing Alignment Summit has officially launched in Chicago!

CHICAGO - Oct. 17, 2016 - PRLog -- The Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit was created because of the need for Sales and Marketing professionals to join collectively to unlock insights on how to work together better and focus on generating revenue. The goal of this community is to become the go-to place for business professionals focused on growth by aligning Sales and Marketing. The Summit will focus on finding the best Content for its members, establishing a connected Community, and fostering Collaboration so that we can facilitate real change for businesses everywhere. The evening will include discussion about topics such as:

• Why Sales and Marketing misalignment still exist • Financial impact of this misalignment on the business • Key barriers to alignment for leaders to understand • Strategies that can be used for alignment and a focus on revenue generation • Skills Sales and Marketing can learn from each other to become more productive • How leaders start the process of moving toward alignment in their organization

Join the community!

Purchase tickets today - http://www.SMAsummit.com

Media Contact Jeff Davis jeff@smasummit.com

[PR Link]: The Sales + Marketing Alignment Summit has officially launched

Adopt ABM before new B2B technology

I recently read an article in Forbes by Falon Fatemi at Node.io titled "Sales And Marketing Are (Finally) Merging: Introducing Account Based Marketing And Sales". I thought it was interesting because it discussed the importance of using ABM (account based marketing) before diving in and adopting a new sales or marketing technology. The reason I found this compelling was I wrote about a similar idea in my article "How to choose a B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment technology". In my article, I talked about there being many new and exciting B2B tech solutions coming out. However,  before a company adopts any of them they need to take the time to understand what is fundamentally broken in the business. At that point, they can take a strategic approach to fixing it before just throwing a new technology solution at it. I think that ABM is a good starting point in implementing a full-scale Sales and Marketing Alignment (SMA) strategy.

Her article shares that starting with ABM allows a company "to market and sell in a contextual, personalized way". The reason that ABM is a smart way to start looking at SMA is that it forces both teams to sit down at the table and identify the profile of the ideal customer(s). It forces the conversation of what attributes exist in prospects with high potential to close. This type of dialogue helps to build a common vocabulary that Sales and Marketing can start to speak when focusing on the sales funnel and the leads that should or should not go into it.

Make ABM a part of your SMA strategy

Adopting a SMA strategy is a significant undertaking. It requires many people to change fundamental, embedded behaviors that they have done for a long time. Attempting to change those behaviors can cause a lot of resistance. Because of this, making ABM the starting point for that journey is best. It allows the company breathing room to focus on building a necessary foundation - together. Of my 3-part strategy for achieving SMA - Taking a Systems Approach, Establishing a Feedback Loop, and Focusing on Shared Goals - I believe ABM facilitates taking a system approach to targeting new customers.

The article also points out that "too many marketers are relying on mismatched, incomplete data sets. You need a single source of truth for both sales and marketing." Part of taking a system approach is cultivating the most relevant and accurate data available. The best way to do that is to have both Sales and Marketing be a part of the data review process. This gives you a more well-rounded view of the reality of your customers. Sales and Marketing should direct ABM at those select accounts that have high profitability and a high likelihood to close.

Squared-wheels-People-Profits-300x232.jpg

The new B2B technology that is coming out is truly exciting and delivering the possibility for companies to create a more personalized buying experience. However, companies must resist the temptation to adopt the most talked about technology simply because they exist. What leaders must focus on is ensuring they have the best processes and strategic alignment in place before trying to accelerate a process that may be broken or deeply flawed.

How to get Sales and Marketing to speak the same language

One of the key reason Sales and Marketing don't work together well is the misalignment of goals/incentives. I feel another one that isn't talked about as much is having a common language. I have found many times Sales and Marketing are talking about the same things and don't even know it. This is why it is worth using common terms for activites and metrics that effect both teams.

87% of the terms sales and marketing use to describe each other are negative.
— Corporate Executive Board

 

I without a doubt find myself using Sales or Marketing-speak often because of my time in both roles. When using my marketing hat I find myself saying things like "robust platform", "synergy", or "360 degree view". These terminologies are fine when we are having marketing conversations but, when I am speaking to potential customers I have to be aware that this is not the language that the customers is used to. So I have to adjust to a language that is more indicative of a salesperson. Should we do away with marketing- or sales-speak? No. I think there is value in creating a lexicon that is understood and widely used within a group. There are just things that salespeople say that marketers don't. And that's okay.

What organizations need to do is help each other understand the vocabulary of their other team members so that when they do need to communicate there is common ground. By doing this, you facilitate a more effective exchange between groups. When people can speak to one another on common ground they are more likely to be able to connect around a common goal. This is good for the business and promotes "Togetherness".

When people can speak to one another on common ground they are more likely to be able to connect around a common goal
— Jeff Davis

 

Below is my attempt (with a little humor) to create a translation for some of the most frequently used terms that I have heard by sales and marketing professionals.

The Sales and Marketing Alignment Dictionary

Why I created the first Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit

Out of frustration! That's the simple answer. Because I spent almost all my career in Sales and Marketing, I saw first-hand the dysfunctional and sometimes combative environment that existed. And for what? Did these groups not understand that they needed each other for survival? This is why the Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit was born. I decided to do something about it. Instead of just saying that's the way things are, Sales and Marketing will always have this relationship, I decided to try to figure it out. I knew there had to be a better way. I'm a believer that many conflicts can be resolved by having an honest conversation, truly listening, and gaining a deep understanding of the other person/group. I don't think this relationship is any different.

What I found through my journey of discovery was that there was a common theme - misalignment of goals/incentives. I believe that until both sides of the aisle make generating revenue the #1 priority, companies will continue to leave a significant amount of money on the table with customers. This is an opportunity to build a business community of professionals all focused on growth through better alignment.

"The goal of Sales and Marketing Alignment (SMA) is to create "Togetherness" where both functions are completely committed to make generating revenue the #1 priority." --Jeff Davis

So...on Thursday, November 3rd the first-ever Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit will be launched. The SMA Summit's goal is to:

  • Establish a connected Community
  • Find and curate the best Content for members
  • Foster mutually beneficial Collaboration that leads to significant business growth

Take a look at my recent interview on AdvisorTV to learn more about how I am changing the way that Sales and Marketing work together. If you are in Chicago you should join us at The Summit on Thursday, 11/3 @ 6pm!

Yes! I want to attend the Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit.

 

[Press Release]: The Sales + Marketing Alignment Summit has officially launched

Achieving Sales and Marketing Alignment

I recently had the chance to share my passion for Sales and Marketing Alignment at Ignite Chicago. It was a great opportunity to talk about what I feel is a significant issue in the B2B (business-to-business) world. My talk focused on the key reason that this relationship is sometimes toxic and often combative - misalignment of goals/incentives. I urge sales and marketing leaders to work toward creating "Togetherness". [Tweet "Leaders must create "Togetherness" to achieve Sales and Marketing Alignment"]

I also talked about the 3 key strategies that I feel are necessary for any organization to transform to are more aligned business that is focused on generating revenue:

  • Taking a System Approach instead of a Functional one
  • Establishing a formal Feedback Loop platform
  • Focusing on Shared Goals with the central metric being revenue attainment

Take a look and learn more about why I am so enthusiastic about the possibilities for Sales and Marketing Alignment.

 

Mission: End the WAR between Sales and Marketing

Ending the WAR between Sales and Marketing can happen! It doesn't have to be as complicated as the search for life in outer space. We can take easier steps to change the culture of the business so that these two functions can be better aligned, which has been proven to be critical to the success of the business.

As a professional that has worked in both Sales and Marketing, I have seen the strengths and weaknesses of both groups. And for this reason, I am passionate about finding solutions to help all Sales and Marketing teams work together better.

Companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve 20% annual growth rate. Companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.  --Aberdeen Group

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Why is Sales and Marketing Alignment so important? Because it affects the bottom line. Companies that do it well achieve significant growth, while those that don't...see a significant revenue decline.

[Tweet "Alignment is crucial for success in B2B today"]

Last year I conducted an online survey asking sales/marketing/biz dev professionals from very diverse industries their thoughts on why this "disconnect" exists. I wanted to get some insights into what can be done to change this counter-productive culture and start an honest conversation. Most respondents were in B2B or a combination of both B2B and B2C.

And the survey says>>>

Main Reasons for the "Disconnect"

  • Misalignment of goals between Sales and Marketing
  • Marketing and Sales don't really have an idea of what the other does on a daily basis
  • Management taking a functional approach instead of a system approach to achieve business goals
  • No established feedback loop to allow Sales and Marketing to iterate strategies based on customer feedback
  • Marketing not understanding the need for Sales to establish and maintain long-term relationships with customers
  • Superiority complex of the Marketing team and pride of the Sales team

I think the first steps to finding solutions are determining and recognizing what's broken in the system and then talking about realistic solutions that can be implemented.

So what do YOU think? I encourage anyone that has a perspective on this topic to share your thoughts.  Also check outwww.SMAsummit.comfor the latest on the upcoming event series solely dedicated to making Sales and Marketing Alignment work!

Let's end this WAR together!!!

[Press Release]: The Sales + Marketing Alignment Summit has officially launched

Welcome to the Alignment Blog

I am the founder of The Sales and Marketing Alignment Summit I created this blog to share the latest insights on the subject. The summit was created because I saw a need for Sales and Marketing professionals to join collectively to unlock insights on how to work together better and focus on generating revenue. My vision is for this community to become the go-to place for business professionals focused on growth by aligning Sales and Marketing. In today's consumer-driven economy, more and more companies are making Sales and Marketing Alignment a stated goal. However, this goal has proven to be extremely complex and challenging. Sales and Marketing leaders must understand that solutions cannot only be focused on technology but must include a fundamental shift in the way that Sales and Marketing interact with each other to drive revenue growth.

The goal of the SMA Summit is to bring together top sales and marketing professionals to discuss the latest insights on Sales and Marketing Alignment, tactical implementation into the organization, and foster a collaborative business community focused on growth through better alignment.

The Summit and blog will focus on

  • Establishing a connected Community
  • Finding the best Content for members
  • Fostering Collaboration among business professionals focused on growth through better alignment.

Welcome to the blog and community! Stay tuned for the next event…