Back in 1996, it was best practice for sales and marketing to work in silos. Maybe sales and marketing would run into each other at a trade show or customer event. But other than that, it was perfectly fine for sales not to see marketing and marketing not to see sales.
Fast forward to today — sales and marketing alignment has become absolutely critical. You cannot run a B2B or B2C or H2H (human to human) business without having the alignment between sales and marketing.
A lot of us know that now. But we get stuck when it comes to implementing that alignment on a daily basis. I mean, they’re such different functions. One is filling up a funnel, and one is emptying a funnel. But you need that alignment. So, how do you do that? That’s the challenge.
At B2BMX, Shahid Javed, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Hughes Network Systems, shared the three step process he followed to successfully achieve sales and marketing alignment in his organization.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- 3 steps to achieving sales and marketing alignment
- Why we should view sales as our customer
- Why you should let sales define your MQLs and SQLs
Step #1: Listen:
Shahid: So, step one in achieving alignment is just listening.
To do this, I had a whole bunch of meetings with all kinds of people. I had meetings with sales leadership, marketing leadership, customer support, and customer services. I also had one on one meetings with technical marketing and project management.
And during these meetings — which I kept to 15 minutes or less — I asked these questions:
- What were your objectives or roles in the previous year?
- What were your highlights in the previous year?
- What are the things that you didn’t meet in the last year?
- What are you goals this year, and what do you expect from marketing?
- How can marketing help?
These meetings helped me get different insights, helped me figure out what were the goals we were trying to reach. And here’s why digging into those goals is so important.
Business leadership has a goal. And a sales is secondary piece in that puzzle that supports that goal. So, say leadership has a goal of reaching 100 million in revenue. To reach that number, sales knows they need to have x amount of opportunities, x amount of leads, and x amount of engagements.
Underneath sales comes their support teams: marketing, project management, and engineering. They have their own goals and objectives, but everything should feed that corporate goal, the one that’s on top. It’s a pyramid.
And for that pyramid to be effective at achieving the top goal, we, as marketers, must view ourselves as a service provider to sales. Sales is our customer. We need to get this right. Otherwise, you can’t achieve alignment….or that top goal.
Step #2: Creating a plan
Shahid: Next, you have to take the information you gathered in step one and you have to normalize it, create a plan, and get buy in from top management.
Again, you do this with sales leadership and marketing leadership together. You agree on the sales objectives, marketing objectives, and on the objectives that are common to both. You prioritize. And you create a short and long-term plan with strategies and tactics to reach those objectives.
One of the keys here is letting sales define the MQL. Because if sales comes up with your MQL scoring, they will be a lot more willing to take that lead and convert it into an SQL.
Step #3: Execute that plan
Shahid: This is the easiest step. You’ve done all the hard work of planning. Now, it’s just about executing that alignment.
In our case, before we started, we had 23 different sales decks. Now, we only have two, one for small business, one for enterprise. We also had 500 different dashboards in Salesforce, because everyone thought they needed their own dashboard for reporting.
So, in executing our plan, we cleaned and organized everything.
We implemented this three step process in just 60 days. And it was awesome. We saw a lot of successful from it.
And if there’s just two things you takeaway from all of this, let it be these two:
It’s really all about empowering your salespeople. Customers know what they need. And the salesperson comes in as a lifesaver, as a hero. You need to project that image to the sales team. So, make your salespeople the hero.
And two, learn from your unhappy customers. I’m talking about your unhappy salespeople. Remember that marketing is a service provider for sales. They’re your customer. So, if they’re unhappy figure out why and go find a solution.