Why sales should give a crap about what marketing is doing

Let’s keep going on the theme of marketing and sales alignment. Last week someone told me that sales doesn’t care what marketing is doing, and expecting them to take time to look at marketing activities on a lead record is ridiculous, because they won’t do it. I call B.S. on that, and refuse to accept it. While that may be true in some sales organizations, it’s not right. In fact, it’s madness. Utter madness!

First, I want to establish 2 baseline assumptions. For the sake of the following post assume that:

  1. Marketing has done its job and has implemented a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) that thoroughly integrates with you CRM and is publishing marketing interaction information to the lead records in the CRM
  2. Sales people are sane, rational and logical

Now, I’d like to set the stage with some interesting numbers:

~ 4 ~

The average number of marketing campaigns B2B companies report a lead responds to before a deal closes (Insight Squared)

~ 7 ~

The minimum number of interactions the average B2B lead has with a brand before they are ready to talk to a sales person (Online Marketing Institute)

~ 38 ~

The win rate increase reported by organizations that have focused on tightly aligning their sales and marketing teams (SAP)

~ 50 ~

The percent of time B2B sales people waste on unproductive prospecting (SAP) AND the percent of B2B sales people that miss their quota (Marketo)

~ 70 ~

The percent of the purchase cycle that’s complete before a lead is ready to talk to sales (Forbes)

~ 95 ~

The percent of B2B buyers that downloaded a piece of thought-leadership content from the vendor they ultimately chose (SAP)

Because you’re a smart, well-read person of business, most of these insights should be familiar to you. After all, I haven’t exactly chosen an original topic. But I’m going to belabor the point because it’s an important one. Armed with all of this info, I hope it is clear to you that for sales to ignore the insights into what leads are doing before they get them on the phone would be utter insanity.

Did you not immediately jump to that obvious and rational conclusion? If not <<face palm>> read on…

You’re welcome.

Once upon a time there were 2 (beautiful) leads: Joe Blow and Jon Doe

Joe Blow is the kind of lead we dream of. He heard great things about your business from a friend and it just so happened he was in the market for exactly your solution and he needed it fast.  So Joe went to your website and submitted a ‘contact sales’ form. In that form, he submitted comments that outlined who referred him, what he wanted, and his timeline to buy.

Awesome, right? Totally! When sales calls Joe, would they want to say “Hi Joe, I understand you wanted to talk to a sales person, how can I help?” or would they want to be ready with a quote and proposal for how they can help address his specific need immediately? The latter, I would hope. Arming sales with even that small nugget of info can help them have an informed conversation that will get them off on the right foot and both Joe and sales would live happily ever after.

Jon Doe, on the other hand, is not so sure what he wants. He finds your company as he’s doing some research on possible solutions to his widget challenge. He has 7 magical interactions with your company: 1) Visits your website; 2) Downloads a white paper; 3) Receives an email; 4) Opens an email; 5) Clicks through the email; 6) Visits your website again; 7) Downloads an infographic.

Jon is an attractive lead, too but he’s harder to get. He looks exactly like the kind of guy you want to sell to (and by that I mean he meets the profile of your company’s standard buyer), and based on everything he’s doing, marketing thinks he’s qualified enough for sales to have a go at him (lucky ducks!) But Jon didn’t actually ask to speak to sales, so when sales calls him, what do they say?

Hi – my marketing team says you have a high lead score so I’m calling you – what’s up? Anything I can sell you?” Hm…probably not. How about “Hi Jon – I saw that you downloaded our white paper on 10 Tips for Improving your Widget ROI and our infographic on the Lifecycle of a Widget. Was that helpful for you? Are there any widget initiatives I can help you with or can I connect you with a widget expert?

Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first person), but I think that second talk track might get more traction. The key to enabling that conversation is insight. All sales has to do is take an extra moment to look at the behavioral history and marketing interactions of that lead and BOOM! that conversations is much more informed and much more likely to land a sale.

5 Signs Your Sales/Marketing Marriage is Failing (and how to fix it)

Bad Marriage

The sales/marketing relationship is essentially an arranged marriage. You’re stuck together and you need each other, so you have to make it work. Embrace it, and it’s possible to be a happy power couple of revenue-generating achievement. Fight it, and you both with be unhappy and ineffective.

Here are 5 signs your marriage is failing, and how to fix it:

1. You take each other for granted
Sales – you need marketing to drive qualified leads. The reality of today’s selling environment, whether you like it or not, is 70% of the buyer journey is complete before a prospect reaches out to sales. The sales process is changing and the balance of power is shifting. You’re now the third most important part of the sales process (after the buyer and the marketing team). If your marketing team is doing their job right, they are shepherding prospects through the first 70% of the funnel.

Marketing – you need sales to close the feedback loop. If sales doesn’t work your leads through the correct process and close the loop, you don’t get feedback on what’s working and what’s not.

Can the two of you do your jobs without each other? Maybe, but it will be a hell of a lot harder. You will all be much happier and successful if you to take the time to understand what you each bring to the table and appreciate those inputs and learn how to embrace them.

How to fix this: Acknowledge you need each other and do so regularly. Marketing and Sales Leaders – it’s up to you to cascade this through your organizations. Don’t just say it – prove it by facilitating channels of communication and shared experiences. Encourage both alignment and understanding. Sales – take the time to understand what marketing is doing to draw in prospects and nurture and qualify them before they come to you. Are they providing you with insights that could inform on a more impactful sales conversation? Marketing – what is sales’ process? What are the obstacles they face that can get in the way of converting even the best marketing qualified leads, and how can you help?

You’re all in the same boat and you won’t get anywhere if you dont row in the same direction.
Reading recommendation: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.


2. You complain about each other to your friends
It’s easy to fall into a downward spiral of negativity when your partner is letting you down. It’s even easier to complain to your friends/colleagues/peers than to address the problem with your partner. We all handle this differently in our personal lives. Some people avoid confrontation like the plague. I’m more of the direct confrontation shout-it-out type. In the business world you need to exercise a bit more tact.

How to fix this: Address the issue directly. Talk to your sales/marketing leader. Leaders – again, facilitating lines of communication and feedback loops is critical. You also have to make the conscious decision to stop complaining about one another. Negativity breeds more negativity. Be the bigger person and stop. Here’s an article about how to respond to negativity in the workplace.

I don’t want to understate how important this is or how hard it can be. I’m totally guilty of side-line chats with colleagues expressing my frustration with sales in a less-than-tactful manner. The words “I can’t stand sales” and “I don’t know how to fix stupid” have definitely been uttered more than once. And I’ll be the first to admit thats the wrong attitude. “Stupid” may not be fixable, but lack of alignment is.


3. You co-exist and otherwise ignore eachother
The only thing worse than complaining about your partner is pretending they don’t even exist. You cannot function on separate planes. Failing to acknowledge your co-dependency and doing your own thing in your own way is a recipe for failure. You are not mutually-benefitting; you’re mutually sabotaging one another.

How to fix this: Defer to item #1. Open the lines of communication and be the power couple you were destined to be. Here’s a great HubSpot blog on How to Align Sales and Marketing for Results (Not Just Harmony)


4. You never hook up
It’s hard to maintain a relationship in the absence of a physical connection. I’m not suggesting you get it on with your colleagues, but if the sales and marketing departments aren’t coming together on a regular basis, intimacy and alignment is basically impossible to establish and maintain.

How to fix this: Hook up regularly. I suggest shared sales/marketing kick-offs at least annually. These are great ways to reinforce the fact that you’re all on the same team. But don’t just leave it at big annual hoorahs. Get some quickies in there – a monthly touch base on big wins and progress against shared goals could do wonders to keep the alignment in tact and the lines of communication open.


 5. You’re both selfish assholesvintage-haha
Sometimes, the problem is a bit less innocent than simply falling out of step with one another. Sometimes, we’re just selfish assholes. We are each doing our own thing, living our own lives, and aren’t worrying about how this impacts our partner.

Usually this happens organically over time and may be driven by goals we’re each trying to achieve that result in an every-man-for-himself attitude.

Sometimes, this behavior is conscious and goes hand in hand with that negativity I mentioned. An attitude may manifest such sentiments as: “Fuck sales, if they don’t want to pay attention to the leads we give them we just won’t give them leads…or give we’ll them everything that comes and let them wade through it all.”

Regardless of how this bad behavior came about, it’s not good for your marriage. And you need to fix it.

How to fix this: Stop being a selfish asshole. Stop and think about how your actions and attitude affect your partner. And if you really are that selfish, then think about how your asshole-ness is actually hurting you, because being aligned with your partner would actually benefit you.

Sales and marketing leaders – it is incumbent on you to dig into the root of the issue and work toward remedying the cause. If misaligned goals are causing sales and marketing to compete rather than act as partners – fix it. There nothing wrong with a little competition, but if it gets in the way of actions for the greater good of the business it’s not doing anyone any good.

In case you don’t think it’s worth all the effort, here’s a post that discusses the financial impact of sales/marketing alignment.