In our first Tango step, Markets change faster than Organizations, we saw how fast we needed to adapt to the triple joint transformations at work: digital, customer experience, and sustainability (ESG). In this context, why would sales & marketing alignment matter?
It’s about the customer, stupid 😉
I hear a lot that Sales & Marketing should align, even getting questions about what is the best target organization: sales reporting to marketing, marketing reporting to sales, both reporting functionally to the C-Suite…
But this is not the point, the real rule of the game here is to align with the customer!
As Theodore Levitt said, the purpose of any business is to acquire new customers and make sure they stay. What you have to provide as an offer is secondary to it.
As a famous culture hack, to foster a client-obsessed culture at Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos used to demand an empty chair in every meeting. Why? To represent the customer and never forget that whatever decision or initiative his staff was making, it should be of perceived value to the customers.
Aligning with the customer is part of a wider joint effort in the company to represent them via personas, build their empathy map, and keep focusing on their Job-To-Be-Done (JTBD) to understand and serve the gains they perceive while reducing their frustrations as much as possible. This will be for sure a topic of future posts of mine.
Focusing on personas emotional gains and job-to-be-done vs. pure transactional sales
As an example, let’s say you are running a grocery store, and one of your typical customers is a working mother. She needs to prepare her kid’s dinner after work and her long commute back home. What would you do to maximize your grocery shop business value? Focus on the fast checkout at the cashier? Sell the cheapest pre-cooked meals? Have someone pack her grocery for her?
Well in order to think JTBD, immerse yourself in her world. What is the first question this mother will ask herself: “What am I going to cook tonight to delight my children?”. Are her emotional gains more from the big smile on their face, the quality time she can spend with them, or the effortless experience of shopping? Why not offer an app on her mobile phone, since she’s a repeat customer, that will suggest healthy dinner recipes while she’s commuting, allow her to pre-order automatically from the recipe all the ingredients missing at home, pay, and share her commute arrival time with your grocery store. You’ll make sure to have her order ready to pick up on the curbside as soon as she’s nearby. She’ll be able to look at the video recipe to cook her meal fast, spending more time with her kids and putting a big smile on their face. What do you think will be the value you deliver? Groceries or more?What about her loyalty, up or down? Hence her repeat pruchase and average basket value will also most probably rise, don’t you think? Her JTBD is not to shop in your store, but rather to delight her children with a healthy dinner. Don’t you think these are some of the ingredients of Hello Fresh strategy and positionning? I’m sure you’re getting the idea, but I’m digressing. We didn’t touch on the health quality and sustainibility of your products and recipes, but let’s keep that for our future conversations.
There are many metrics reflecting the gains from sales & marketing alignment:
- 67% better at closing deals
- Reduce friction by 108%
- +209% value from marketing
- +20% Growth Rate
- +40% closed deals
- -50% in churn.
These are compiled numbers from App Data Room and IDC, but the ones that really capture it are from SiriusDecisions now part of Forrester: +36% revenue growth and +28% profitability in B2B.
Are you even more motivated? Probably yes, but we’ve got challenges along the way.
According to research, miscommunication comes first, followed by ill-adapted processes and inconsistent metrics among the teams.
But let’s not forget about the lack of accurate, relevant, and joint data about the targetted accounts. Does it bring you back some bad memories?
Forrester found out some additional difficulties listed here. I love the “not enough time”! Doesn’t it reflect procrastination, best case, or lack of importance, worst case? This is the typical excuse we hear all day long when people are not really willing to endorse or initiate change. That is by the way where coaches and a coaching culture can help 😉
Miscommunication starts with language
So to communicate better, we should start by using the same language. And frankly, in this area, my experience was rather shocking when I took up my duties in Tech companies.
Marketers talk about the top of the funnel, with a lot of vanity metrics, while sales talk about the bottom of the funnel with business metrics. Few salespeople have a knowledge of the mysteries of marketing, and conversely, few marketers have really been interested in making sales forecasts, complex sales planning, or closing a deal.
My dear marketing friends, pay attention to the big white! If you persist in this misunderstanding of each other, it is your job that will be eaten…
Here are summarised the dos and don’t I can share from experience for you marketers:
- Talk about what they can identify with, rather than Talk about our vision of the world: their territory, their accounts, rather than the market, at all levels starting with the Sales VP.
- Focus on the (earned) flow rather than presenting vanity metrics e.g. number of people attending events vs. % of pipe present.
- Present an integrated view, starting with your strategy to support the revenue target rather than the laundry list of your activities for the year
- Highlight what can improve their performance, rather than looking good as “in marketing we know”
- Show empathy, and understand their point of view rather than handing over leads without meaningful business acumen.
Content and Messaging can make a huge difference
Sales Representatives need to be empowered to add value to the conversation: When almost 100% of B2B deals are influenced by content, it is imperative for reps to know what content to share and when. Unfortunately, 2/3 of customers feel that sales people are unprepared for initial meetings. This means that reps don’t have the content or resources they need to get ready for the meetings and have value-add conversations with prospects.
Misalignment reduces efficiency and productivity: less than 1/3 of a sales person’s time goes to core selling activities. For example, a CMO study found that up to 40% of a rep’s time is spent looking for or creating content to share with prospects.
With proper alignment and communication, marketing can arm the sales team with the latest content, research, and industry data so that sales can be more responsive and effective. The result? An almost 40% increase in closed deals and approximately 50% decrease in churn.
Sales demands content and marketing has content, but resources still go to waste: Marketing creates a ton of great content, but 85% of marketing content is never used by sales. At the same time, 95% of reps say content is essential to progress prospects through the pipeline, but they can’t find it, don’t know what content to use when, or lack the confidence that it will help advance their deals. This lack of communication and alignment causes organization-wide disconnects, missed opportunities, and lost revenue.
Data and ROI are required to make smart decisions: Data is how marketing and sales know what content and messaging works and what doesn’t. It’s how content creators know where to focus their efforts and how sales reps know what collateral to share with prospects. Data provides valuable insights into areas for improvement and opportunities for new strategies or processes, as well as enables management to measure performance.
This ends our 2nd Step of the Sales & Marketing Tango, and as you could tell, Sales & Marketing Alignment matters to some key business results: growth and profitability. But as we highlighted in our first step Markets change faster than Organizations, it also addresses a more daunting challenge: transform the customer experience.
In our next and last Tango Step, we will look at How can you thrive on your journey to the promised land? In other terms, what are: strategies, Objective Key Results (OKRs), processes and key ingredients to your success. Stay tuned, and more importantly feel free to share your experience, reflections and insights in commenting this post.
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