Creating Smarketing Harmony – Alignment Advice for Marketers (part 1 of 2)

Marketing ‌• July 1, 2013

As someone who has played on both sales and marketing teams, I feel compelled to share some advice with my fellow marketing and sales executives.

I have felt the pain of a marketer that was unable to demonstrate marketing’s impact on revenue generation because sales didn’t give feedback to close the loop.  I know what it feels like to work day and night to generate qualified, sales-ready leads for a sales force that will either mishandle or ignore them once I’ve sent them along. I have witnessed more than my share of marketers that have lost their jobs over poorly designed (or poorly executed) marketing campaigns because sales either wasn’t engaged early or wasn’t open to providing the needed guidance to marketers about the needs of their target audience.

I’ve also felt the pain of being a salesperson who spent MANY precious selling hours building my own target list, making cold calls, creating sales collateral, and compiling multiple, manual, duplicate reports that never seemed to be used for any action of value. I’ve watched talented salespeople lose their jobs because they couldn’t ramp up fast enough and close revenue in 90 days despite an 18-month complex sales cycle. I know what it feels like to waste hours chasing “leads” that were completely worthless.

And what’s really shocking about it all?

WE ARE THE CAUSE OF OUR OWN PAIN.  WE ARE OUR OWN UNDOING.  And I think it’s time for the insanity to end.  If you agree, join me in bridging the ever-widening gap between marketing and sales by being a real change leader within your company.

Here’s how marketers can create real change:

  • Take the time to walk a mile in sales’ shoes. You’ll learn that sales isn’t all about lunch meetings and golf – it involves countless hours of research, preparation, presentations, conference calls, cold-calling (with hundreds of NOs), travel, negotiations, calculations, contracting, relationship management, reporting, rejection…it’s a 24/7 roller coaster ride. You’ll also learn that every marketing request means something else, usually a client request or a revenue generating activity, must be put on the back burner.
  • Use thoughtful words and appropriate tones in your requests.  Avoid, at all costs, the following words: I, BUT, MUST, NEED and MANDATORY. And lay off the threats – explicit or implicit. Don’t forget how far it can go to use words like: WE, PLEASE, THANK YOU, APPRECIATE and SUPPORT.
  • Invite sales into the planning process. Even if no additional learnings are gleaned or sales chooses to not participate, they’ll be more apt to embrace and support the campaign you created for them.
  • Never ever forget the answer to this question “Who defines a qualified, sales-ready lead?” is: SALES DOES.  If they’re not involved in the defining of a lead or if they disagree, the leads that you worked so hard to generate will be ignored and you will have wasted your precious marketing dollars on something that failed before it started.
  • Establish an open communication channel (and a supporting lead recycling program) for sales to return leads that are no longer sales-ready for additional marketing activities.  Reward sales’ participation in this lead recycling program with visibility throughout the pipeline and actionable sales intelligence when they do become sales-ready.
  • Explain to sales what’s in it for them, in their terms. Sales must feel as though you are there to help them succeed. If at any point they feel as though it’s a one sided relationship, they’ll put their energy, resources, and faith elsewhere.
  • Remember that, like you, sales has conflicting priorities. Sales is paid, incented, and managed to focus on selling activities that will generate revenue in the short-term (less than 90 days out).  If they don’t, they’ll be fired.
  • Respect sales’ time.  When you make requests and assign associated deadlines, make them realistic.  And do whatever you can to make it as painless as possible.
  • Last but NOT least: Always respect the true cost of a salesperson and be a responsible steward of your company’s resources.  While they may not be a line item in your marketing budget, they are very significant portion of your company’s expenses. For example, if your company’s average salesperson earns $100K annually plus commission and fringe benefits, their hard cost is $399 per hour.  Furthermore, if they carry a $2 million revenue quote, their actual cost to your company is $3,788 per hour because if they’d don’t sell $3,788 per hour, they won’t meet/exceed their revenue forecast. If they don’t make their forecasts, neither will your company.  And while I probably shouldn’t have to state the obvious, if your company doesn’t meet its forecasts, your marketing budget will more than likely be cut or suspended.

If you can have an impact on sales’ productivity, you can dramatically impact your company’s overall performance.  If the average salesperson has less than 11 hours of actual selling time per week, imagine how much his performance would improve if you were able to help them spend those 11 hours on qualified, sales-ready opportunities.

In my next post, I’ll turn the tables and look at what sales can do to ensure smarketing love. Chime in with your thoughts and tips below!

Sam McCue
Inbound Marketing guru, avid fisherman, and all-around backcountry enthusiast.

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