In the spirit of the upcoming Superbowl on Feb 4th, I digress from my blog series Bite Size Snacks to Feed the Soul to address the relationship struggle between Sales and Marketing and what balance is required to both Run and Grow the Business.
Sure, there is a ton of content to guide on best practices on how to build a marketing plan that aligns with sales targets and priorities. My unique perspective, however, comes from having a 10+ years sales background which has given me a leg up on how to ensure these strategies prevail.
My viewpoint centers around 2 themes; a very famous quote by Stephen Covey to ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood‘ and the dependency of stakeholder relationships. Consider my suggestions in addition to those experts that guide on planning and executing a lucrative marketing plan.
- Make salespeople fall in love with you. When I was in sales, I’ll be honest, I didn’t see much value in what marketing did. It felt very ‘fluffy’ to me. I formed this opinion because the marketing teams were not visible; half the time I couldn’t even tell you what their names were let alone what they did. It is important that your stakeholders know who you are and I don’t mean just your title and what your responsibilities are. Let them in so they know the real you and vice versa. I’m not suggesting you date them for goodness sake!! Consider going for coffee or lunch, connect with them on your personal social channels, attend sales events, socials and sales meetings. Actions like these will help establish a solid foundation for stakeholder alignment. It all about being present.
- Walk in their shoes. Surprisingly this should be a no-brainer yet sadly it does not occur very often. How on earth can we Marketers support our sales folk if we haven’t lived a day in their shoes??!! Ask to shadow a handful of account reps and really experience ‘a day in the life of’.
- Become a consensus builder. Do NOT plan in isolation of your salespeople; management and individual contributors alike. They will resent you and dismiss your great work. How many times have you heard ‘Who made this or that decision?!’ from Sales Management. Do your due diligence – conduct listening tours, be prepared with data, offer concepts tying in the data and what you learned from your feedback sessions. Never assume that because your ideas stem from corporate marketing objectives that its an automatic green light from your Sales stakeholders. Build the plan TOGETHER. That way there are no surprises; everyone will be on the same page and most importantly all in on the execution.
- Priority setting has to be led by having Sales conversations. Sure you’ll do the math on revenue targets and what KPI’s are expected of you as a Marketer. You’ll have delved into the data, the market research, and the corporate vision; all the usual stuff to formulate a plan. Gain access to how the area you support is interpreting corporate goals and applying them to their regional area. For example, we knew our stakeholders wanted double-digit growth in a new segment so we partitioned part of that new segment and approached it as if we were a quota carrying salesperson ourselves. Timeliness and Trust are key to embedding a sales strategy. It is also much easier to get buy-in from marketing executives on program dollars and resources if your plan is tightly proven to be aligned with a sales strategy.
- Consider your salesforce as part of your omnichannel strategy. We as Marketers know that our marketing budgets are usually constrained and we thrive on creative ways to reach our customers. A few years ago, in Canada, we all felt the impact of Anti Spam laws (CASL) with the massive reduction in email marketing and budgets having to shift back to telemarketing. With digital transformation its been a much easier transition. The inclusion of the sales field into your digital strategy is paramount. Invest in the time to teach them Social Selling and set them up for success to become a high adopter with the help of relevant content. It will delight their customers; make them better salespeople and alleviate the budget barrier to execute on campaigns.
- Numbers please. Embrace the metrics given to you as if you were a salesperson with an annual target. Share your campaign results whether good or bad. And not the marketing KPI’s that need to be analyzed to access the success of a campaign. They don’t care. Give the field what they want, pipeline contribution figures, as its always going to be about what you did to help them reach their objective?
At the end of the day, every recommendation above comes down to this…Communication. It’s a life skill and if you can fine tune it with your beloved sales stakeholders you’ll have made some pretty special friends. Good luck and as they say, Happy Selling.
Oh and go Patriots? Eagles? Oh heck, you choose, I’m a hockey fan 😊
About Kimberley……Seeking employment.
I was recently impacted by a Global layoff at a company I adore. If you are looking for a digital transformation marketing leader that can build a solid strategic business plan leading with Data, Content and Digital outputs; manage people to reach their very best potential and nurture stakeholder relationships, then please contact me at Kimberley.email@example.com Those that know me well will tell you, I will not disappoint. Learn more about me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kbehnan/
Please share to get the word out. Thank you!