Recently I was fortunate to be a guest on Rialto Marketing CEO Tim Fitzpatrick’s show where we took on the challenge of aligning sales and marketing successfully (full audio version plus you can listen at your favorite podcast service). He specializes in helping small and mid-sized businesses get the most out of their marketing dollars.
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Highlights From Aligning Sales and Marketing Successfully
Below is the key takeaways from the questions in the interview. None of it about creating work for works sake. Not a single word is about forcing compliance to a system or ideology. instead it’s about creating a set of best practices that work not only to align sales and marketing successfully but give sales the tools, and focus the need to win more business. to compete harder, and even exit opportunities that don’t fit.
Why do sales teams often underperform management expectations?
No Validity in the Expectation Handed Down to Sales – The CEO’s expectation is not always rooted in facts but more so desires. A perfectly valid reason for why people underperform because the sales expectations aren’t realistic.
There is a lack of Sales Management Process – It often misses how to handle Territory, Accounts, and Opportunity MGT (Game Changer Sales). Conversations become about commits and can we pull the PO in. not how do we build, and execute in a way that serves us today. tomorrow, and in the future.
What Are the Plans – A pretty power point if fine, a novel isn’t needed but time, resources depth and real plans need to be made and executed against. How are the actual sales directors, sales managers, and the individual contributors going to get there? And what are their territory plans? What are their account plans? What opportunities do they have? And where is all this documented in a format that they can use to include the wider team in the planning and sales process?
Is there a a repeatable documented process? This isn’t an academic exercise. It’s a game plan. using a sports analogy a professional athlete will spend more time watching film, studying the competition, and building a game plan than they will conditioning, and playing the actual game. Sales is no different do the work up front. know what needs done and adjust strategy along the way.
How can owners and sales managers have a better view of their most important must-win deals?
We use the term Sales Opportunity Management it’s about taking your must win deals, the large and strategic one and putting extra focus on them. When these conversations start with new clients we hear “I have a CRM system”, “I use X, Y or Z sales methodology”. CRM systems are great. They are powerful and have a real business purpose. Actually closing deals is not in their list of benefits. What you need to be able to do is look at more than a screen filled with numbers, names, and percentages in your CRM system.
And I love people that like I have eight stages in my deal. And this means this and this and that and that. Right in the truth is, is you don’t do the work behind that. You’re picking a number. You’re trying to get your sales leader or sales manager from not killing you on the review call and not being the person one the target on them. Right.
RedZone Sales Opportunity Management is a process. Where we work with all of our clients and sit down to understand where they are on what, and what really matters in their most important opportunities.
A Good Rep says “I’ll win” – and they truly believe they will
A great manager says “why will you win”? – They know the rep means it but need to understand how to support their team to bring the company’s solution to the customer in a powerful way.
Look at need through the customer’s lens Using a repeatable set of sales best practices allows for a common way to look a the complexity, drivers, and competition. to process not only what a customer says but what the actual expectation is.
What changes happened in the b2b sales process since the start of the pandemic?
The entire customer buying process changed. The answers that worked for a lot of people for a long time are no longer true. The old “I’ve had these accounts for 20 years and know everybody in it and what they’re doing. They love me. I’m their guy.” It’s simply not true anymore. The person who could sign off on a fifty thousand dollar project or a hundred thousand dollar project anymore may not have that authority.
There will be people in the selling process there that you’re not used to. You need to align not only with your traditional folks but with the expanded areas of the business Finance and the CFO have a lot more input. Things that were rubber stamp transactions that manager levels could improve are going to divisional controllers, if not corporate CFO for approval, depending on the things.
The question CEO’s are asking is why? Why now and why can’t we wait? If you’re not thinking through that and working through that with your customers and their buying criteria and understanding what their expectation levels are, you’ll never get to that level.
What Does the Customer Truly Need
What are the messages that are resonating? What is being said are the business priorities communicated from the top down inside your accounts? Before you can begin to align sales and marketing successfully you need to align with what customers are needing and expecting. The RedZone App gives you a tool to help know what you should do with it and not just track it. Understand their metrics not just yours and doing those things and understanding what the customer really wants. Have real conversations. Cross segments of the business to get outside of your traditional swim lanes.
Quick List of What Has Changed in the Buying Process
The Buying Process – Procurement has more authority (relationships value add gone)
The Approval Process (CFO is asking)
iii.Why Can’t we Wait
Your Cusotmer’s Priorities
i.If they don’t do X the bad things will happen
ii.If They do Y then good things will happen
Know if you are selling to prevent X or enable Y
Highlight “what you do great” to solve the problems instead of selling what you want.
Aligning Marketing and Sales
How can marketing leadership and sales management align toward the same goals?
Compensation. Marketing metrics need to be on driving success for sales. Sales metrics need to be benefiting marketing. There’s two parts of that often when you’re in the room. Marketing gets in the room and says, “I want to run the following things” We have our budgets in place and we’re going to do a 15 event virtual show and we’re going to do a lead generation campaign to drive 50 thousand new people to the website.
Sounds great, right?
What’s it going to cost?
What’s it going to do?
Where the disconnect is does any of this benefit sales? Often we see marketing is paid on different metrics and sales. How many people? They are measured on how many people did marketing get to the webinar or how many people came to your virtual wine tasting? Not how many qualified opportunities came out of those attendees? To align sales and marketing successfully you have to align their major goals and metrics.
Your marketing needs to be viewed as more than a creative service. They need to be integral to the business. And we’re sales and marketing really could align is if you’re doing a new customer acquisition program. Test the messaging together as sales and marketing on a series of responses and follow-ups and scripting and collateral pieces, and we truly said this is the A, this is the B, we got these different results over one hundred or a thousand or however many leads.
Then spread that across a sales organization. Slice it by the territory plan, by that customer segmentation, and really leverage marketing’s talents and ability to understand that because marketing typically does that great. Everybody goes on to build me a brochure or the on these pictures I have to change my email signature. That’s not marketing does all those things, but marketing can really drive business and drive growth if you align with them properly.
Marketing Databases and Sales CRM, Should they be combined?
A database has to be a living breathing part of your business. If you have a sales database and marketing database you create two monsters and it ends up like a science fiction movie where the monsters are fighting and killing each other.
Make it the same monster, if you will. There needs to be segmentation it is a really hard conversation to have with salespeople and sales leaders. Like everything goes into CRM! That’s great. You have one hundred and fifty thousand contacts. You have fifteen thousand active customers. Fantastic. Good for you. What are their job functions? Well, why does that matter?
If you do the mapping to start or the cleanup work and have them in the database. You know about them, can tag them in our opportunities. if you fail to do that and align sales and marketing at the database and systems-level Sales can ask the marketing organization to run a promotion for a specific customer role or job function. They can work and targe business function areas and pull that from the CRM and target it. In talking about the buying process, remember the number of players has changed. Sales should be adding that in. After you can look at the statistics and say, have X plant managers or we have Y HR folks or a million finance specialists that have been added to the database in the past 60 days.
What Small business marketing challenges the sales team can help with?
So how can sales help marketing? Include them, take them on a sales call, put them on a Zoom. Let them hear what customers are really saying. Let’s hear what this Customer’s doing.
If your customers are on LinkedIn, share on LinkedIn, if your customers are somewhere share on that, you know, from sales, you know, make sure that you’re getting the messaging out consistently. Make sure you understand the branding guidelines. Where is marketing trying to message and are you helping them build that following because it’s only going to serve you.
The other part of this really is sales needs to understand and feed marketing, not data, but experiences. Think about how many times you need to do a case study, a white paper, we need to do this or that, and everybody in sales puts their hands in their pocket.
Sales can help marketing with real insight. Help understand why the company won