Let’s continue our Sale & Marketing Tango, after Step 1: Who is changing faster? and Step2: Why does it matter?, I’m convinced you’d like to get some food for thoughts about how to thrive on your journey to success. There’s no magical recipe, but rather some key ingredients, tips, and recommendations to lead this change.

And as it is a change, as in all change management initiatives, you’ll have to pay attention to resistance to change in your organization and overcome it. A simple recipe to keep in mind lies in this simple formula coming from Beckhard & Harris :

The level of dissatisfaction about the alignment, or lack of for this matter, can come from different pain points: poor lead to deal conversions, decrease in repeat sales or customer loyalty, churn inflation, demand generation inefficiencies, … Whatever the reason(s), make the sales and marketing organizations aware of it, let them figure out how painful it could become several quarters down the road if no change happens: the bigger the envisioned pain, the bigger the motivation to change — leverage Step 1 and Step 2 posts for this.

But don’t forget to paint a compelling vision of what would be the smashing successful combined effort and what are the first steps you can take together in this direction. This is what I’ll be covering in this post.

We need to change together…once again

We will come back to this evolution with the advent of RevOps and the role of the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), but we have to transform ourselves once again. Marketing now has to provide full coverage from awareness to revenue, and at the same time Sales have also expanded in the cycle, and the question of alignment to more than two organizations is on the table (CSM, SDR, …).

My recommendation, from my experiences at Salesforce and Oracle is:

  1. Build a Go-To-Market strategy jointly with all stakeholders
  2. Agree on common and tracked key objectives with a single OKRs (Objective Key Results) dashboard
  3. Develop and evolve transversal processes, including a warm handover from SDR to Sales for example: in a nutshell, build a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
  4. And above all, have a 360 of customer data, both internal and behavioral. Hence the success of Customer Data Platforms (CDP)

Align across the entire customer Lifecycle, focusing dem gen on revenue-generating activities

Marketing and sales communication is critical to selling effectively in today’s ever-changing marketplace. These tips will help your organization improve alignment and see those crucial bottom-line results:

  1. Agree on a common language
    & view
    of the market
  2. Establish a Marketing / Sales governance & SLA
    sponsored by top management
  3. Align all stakeholder’s cadence & OKRs
  4. Focus & Personalize Marketing 3Cs to sales coverage (Content, Channel, Conversations)
  5. Strategize Jointly along a Retain, Develop & Acquire accounts framework
  6. Continuous feedback loop ‘shareconomy of knowledge’

It’s important here for sales and marketing to maintain a continuous feedback loop. This ‘shareconomy of knowledge’ relies on sharing rather than hoarding both content and feedback. For example, the salespeople are on the front line, talking to prospects and customers on a daily basis. They gain insights into pain points, challenges, and needs that should be shared with marketing so that they can create relevant content.

The RDA framework, which I do not have time to dwell on here, is a superb model for developing a joint strategy. In this framework, you categorize accounts according to three main categories: Retention (and Optimization for SaaS), Development (upselling, Xselling), and Acquisition. Take into account two essential dimensions: your share of the portfolio in each account, and the weight of the average basket of an account compared to your addressable market. This gives rise to this matrix with 9 boxes that allow you to decide how much to invest in marketing, and what sales effort for which business objectives on which volume.
I rolled out this strategy for the first time at Sun Microsystems at the global level for the Software Business. The result was a magnificent alignment between sales and marketing in all Tier 1 countries (where there was enough critical mass to dedicate marketers to account territories) including 2,000 accounts worldwide with a custom GTM for each. An ancestor or a good base for Account-Based Marketing (ABM) or more inclusively Account-Based Engagement as it is not only about marketing.

Account-Based Marketing is mainstream in B2B Marketing

Developing a comprehensive ABM strategy, not just in a 1to1 approach as a lot of businesses limit themselves to, but including 1toFew and 1toMany fold to your effort is the way I’d recommend to go. As a rule of thumb, here is a summary of the various flavors of ABM and a typical number of accounts attached.

My ABM at scale experience

At Oracle, I was fortunate to initiate an ABM at scale strategy for the SaaS business in EMEA, taking into account all the intelligence a company can get from first-party data — customer knowledge within your organization — as well as 2nd and 3rd party data – customer knowledge from your ecosystem and all the behavior signals your customers are sparkling in digital during their buying journey. The results, out of 36,000 named accounts in our scope, were impressive with more than 56% of companies reached in one campaign, 100% of our efforts and budget on the target accounts only, and the one result showing that Marketing + Sales can leapfrog traditional sales coverage: 52,000 decision-makers reached in the top 10 accounts alone!

Real-Time personalization makes wonders

An important learning for us came from advanced personalization in real-time, leveraging ABM data as an input. Inspired by what B2C Marketing is doing in digital display, like Car Manufacturers personalizing display ads at display time based on the person connected, we implemented such a campaign using Sizmek, Linkedin, and eMedia (part of Ziff Davis B2B).

We personalized at display time headline, visual, European language, offer, call-to-action, and even displayed the name of the company of the individual connected. The results were staggering: 3 to 4 times more engagement compared to the previous wave without such deep personalization.

We did leverage predictive intelligence to adapt the intensity of repeat displays on accounts with high purchase intent (PI).

Oracle Predictive Intelligence Framework

When analyzing 11,000 opportunities in the pipe, at the end of the fiscal year, we could demonstrate the effectiveness of such an approach. The accounts with high PI, compared to accounts with low PI were delivering to sales:

  • 3 times more opportunities,
  • x2 win-rate
  • x2.2 average deal size!

A no-brainer don’t you think?

What’s coming next? Conversation Ready Leads, Demand Unit ABM, Revenue Ops & CRO

What I’m envisioning as evolving trends coming up:

  • Conversation Ready Leads: instead of relying on leads-scoring to hand over leads to sales, pass them on when they’re ready to have a conversation with them
  • Demand Unit ABM: B2B accounts are making a purchase decision within a buying circle of 7 to 17 individuals, the Demand Unit. This is the next level of granularity of ABM: Demand Unit ABM.
  • Revenue Ops & Chief Revenue Officer: breaking down organizational silos to organize all customer-facing teams around the customer. A customer lifecycle-based alignment, measurement, and processes customer-centric transformation.

I’ll be posting more about these trends, but I’d like to highlight where most of our B2B organizations are coming from, and what is the challenge in front of us:

Typical customer-facing organization

Each of these Marketing, Sales Development, Sales, and Customer Success teams are interacting with the customer without orchestration, consistency, joint metrics, or true customer knowledge sharing. The destination should look something like this, removing the siloed approach by:

RevOps Centralizes
End-to-End Revenue Creation
  • One end-to-end owner of revenue production in the CRO
  • Centralizing all Ops functions under one RevOps leader
  • Creating a Communal Data Share between functions and ops
  • Enabling continuous feedback loops between all revenue production teams based on buyer behavior

According to Gartner when researching companies that have implemented it, such an aligned revenue engine produces +19% growth, and +15% profits. Way to go!

Upskilling & Reskilling at Scale: Responsive Enablement

To close, all these transformations require business leaders to invest heavily in enablement, as reskilling needed is massive. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2025 50% of all employees will need reskilling, let alone Sales & Marketing. Critical thinking and problem-solving top the list of skills employers believe will grow in prominence in the next five years. Newly emerging this year are skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility. Respondents to the Future of Jobs Survey estimate that around 40% of workers will require reskilling of six months or less.

Just relying on traditional training will not be enough. Hard Skills will require unlocking knowledge in the flow vs. full-day kick-off training as Forbes points out. And the more important and difficult Soft Skills, are much better served by personalized coaching & mentoring at scale to create awareness and responsibility from individuals to get beyond their comfort zone. This is one of the reasons I decided to become a professional Mentor & Coach.

So, are you ready to Tango?

Please share your views, experiences, and questions by commenting on this post. Looking forward to it.

2 thoughts on “Sales & Marketing Alignment: It takes two to Tango! 3rd Step: How can you thrive on your journey to the promised land?

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