How to Align Sales & Marketing

Author:

Andy Culligan
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Episode

85

How to Align Sales & Marketing

Aurelien Mottier

CEO at Operatix

Andy Culligan

CMO at Leadfeeder

Sales + Marketing + Alignment

Why are these always the dreaded words?

(And whose fault is it when alignment doesn’t happen?)

Recently on B2B Revenue Acceleration, we interviewed Andy Culligan, CMO at Leadfeeder, about how to align sales and marketing.

“My main focus is connecting the dots between sales and marketing teams,” Andy said.

With a sales background — he was an SDR — and an email marketing specialist, Andy has deep insights into lead generation.  

Leadfeeder fills in the gap around website visitors who don’t provide contact information. “We really show that first party data, high intent data — data that you own, which shows intent to purchase from you,” he explained.

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Marketing and sales don’t talk to one another because marketing and sales leaders don’t talk to one another.

Andy Culligan – CMO at Leadfeeder

Is sales & marketing alignment a myth?

The common denominator that keeps sales and marketing from true alignment is that both departments are made up of humans.

Why do we so often fail to make it work?

1 — Expectations

If sales and marketing don’t have a shared why, they just go off and do two different things.

“What will typically happen is that sales will say, I’m just going to ignore the leads that are coming in from marketing,” Andy said.

Sales just doesn’t believe marketing’s leads are qualified. 

Most salespeople tell Andy that 40% of the leads from marketing are bad.

“I say, that is fantastic news,” Andy said. Benchmarks suggest that, actually, 60% of all leads are not going anywhere. 

It’s a human trait to remember things that are terrible and forget things that are great. 

2 — Complexity

It’s hard to align sales and marketing because our sales cycles are more complex than ever before.

With a 24-month sales cycle and an average mid market deal size of $100K per year, it’s no wonder that there are variations in the process.

“We tried to simplify as much as possible,” Andy said.

-Automated lead qualifications

-Data analytics tools

-Department structure

“We had the SDRs reporting into marketing,” Andy said. “It allowed me to make sure that anything that my marketing guys were bringing in was immediately getting looked at by the SDRs because they like to control that entire process.”

3 — Lead scoring

Too much reliance on lead scoring means too little emphasis on the human layer.

A great lead might have a low lead score. A human connection might be all it takes to make it more qualified. 

“My advice would be if you’re selling to that enterprise level sales, you need to have a couple of layers: an automated layer and then a human layer qualification,” he said.

Let SDRs sift through as much of the qualified leads as they possibly can. This will keep them sharp.

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In terms of how important the SDR role is for the alignment piece, it’s massively important who they should report into.

Andy Culligan – CMO at Leadfeeder

When sales & marketing don’t align

Whose fault is it when sales and marketing can’t get along?

“Leadership,” Andy said. “100% of the time, marketing and sales don’t talk to one another because marketing and sales leaders don’t talk to one another.”

Here’s what it takes to start alignment:

  1. Establish a mutual agreement between sales and marketing — at the very top. The CRO and CMO (or VPs of Sales and of Marketing) collaborate on next year’s targets.
  2. Create a simple attribution model. This will clarify who is responsible for achieving the number by outlining when an opportunity has been created by sales or by marketing.
  3. Determine some top level percentages. The SDR team, for example, could deliver 70% of the pipeline.
  4. Launch a targeted account-based marketing initiative. Each of the touchpoints in an account would be contacted by an SDR.

Here’s how Andy suggests positioning lead generation.

“Marketing will bring in the leads, then it’s up to the SDR to really get it up to the next level in terms of getting into a meeting,” Andy said.

Bottom line: It’s the SDR teams that make alignment happen.

“In terms of how important the SDR role is for the alignment piece, it’s massively important who they should report into,” Andy said.

He suggested they should report into marketing. “The CMO is there to make sure that lead gen is working, demand gen is working, and all their outbound stuff is working.”

Having SDRs report into marketing also keeps them from creating their own messaging (which is bad all around). 

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The CMO is there to make sure that lead gen is working, demand gen is working, and all their outbound stuff is working.

Andy Culligan – CMO at Leadfeeder

The alignment roles of the C-suite

What should the CEO do?

“Hire the right people,” Andy said.

-Does the CMO have experience in sales to understand the pain points?

-What are their typical KPIs?

-How do they align their efforts towards what sales is doing?

What should the CMO do?

“Give a 30/60/90 day plan,” he said.

Just as you would expect a salesperson to, you should expect a marketer to do the exact same.

Oh, and they should speak frequently with the head of sales about where the opportunities are coming from, as well as what is and isn’t working.

What should the CRO do?

Collaborate.

“If things are growing, then you can be pretty sure that the CRO and the CMO are working well together. If things are not growing, then there’s an issue somewhere,” Andy said.

What should the CFO do?

Monitor revenue growth.

The CMO’s target is aligned to revenue growth. The CRO’s whole target is revenue growth. And the CFO can predict how much money is needed to get there.

“The CFO would work in an advisory capacity,” Andy said. “Will it work from a money perspective to hit the targets the CMO and the CRO are setting?”

Connect with Andy on LinkedIn or get a free trial of Leadfeeder at leadfeeder.com.

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About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.

 

Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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