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Sales and Marketing Alignment: 3 T’s for a Clear Path to Success

sales and marketing alignment
Sales Operations

Like family dynamics, sales and marketing dynamics can be….

Interesting

Having been on both sides of the equation, I’ve seen how lack of alignment gets in the way of everyone’s best intentions.

BUT just like there is a path to a drama-free Thanksgiving, Sales and Marketing alignment is possible. To me, it’s about the “3 T’s”: 

  1. Trust
  2. Transparency
  3. Timing 

… and possibly a 4th: Tequila. 

The 3 T’s all go back to data and insights — which most of us don’t have. And it’s why customer insights, revenue operations, and a platform approach are critical.

To set ourselves up for success it’s important to get to the root of our issues. 

B2B buyers are now in control of the information flow during the buying process, leaving sales and marketing teams to operate in the dark for most of the journey or the “Dark Funnel.” And it’s getting worse. 

With more buyers involved in decisions, less desire to talk to salespeople, and more anonymous research, it is wreaking havoc on our existing systems built for leads (one person) and known activity. 

In fact, according to Forrester, only 12 percent of B2B sales and marketing teams have confidence in their data. 12 percent!! 

Sales and Marketing alignment is hard when we are all fumbling around in the dark with data that we don’t even trust. 

And because our traditional marketing efforts are no longer cutting it — emails are going to “unsubscribe island,” and prospects aren’t showing up for events, for example — pipeline isn’t progressing and we have no understanding of why. 

This all really sucks and breaks down the trust between teams.

So how can we get out of the dark funnel and get back on track with our sales and marketing efforts? 

To enable alignment and the 3 T’s (trust, transparency, and timing), we must look to: 

1. Light up the dark funnel with customer insights 

To create a message that resonates with the right buyers — buyers who are ready to act now — you need to be able to collect, connect and act on customer insights. 

Combining third-party intent signals with your organization’s first-party marketing automation and CRM data gives revenue teams insight into every known and unknown behavior, allowing them to create personalized and targeted outreach

With these insights, we know the keywords prospects care about, so we incorporate those words and phrases in our subject line, confident our emails will get opened… 

We know Arizona has more late-stage buyers than Los Angeles, so we set up our Field Marketing dinner there… 

We know the pipeline isn’t progressing because our accounts are researching competitors, so we strategically place messaging and display in front of those accounts to get them familiar with our brand. 

These insights help align sales and marketing, putting them on the same page, helping them engage better, get into deals sooner, and win more often.

TIP: Make sure you’re collecting data that gives you insight into customer needs, desires, and behaviors. Make sure you’re also using that data to engage buyers when they’re ready to act.

Take SailPoint for example, the Texas-based cybersecurity software company that delivers identity governance to enterprises all around the world. The company has leveraged customer insights through the power of AI and big data to become much more strategic in their execution. 

Now, the SailPoint revenue team goes after accounts and launches campaigns according to fit and intent scores, which has led to an increase in opportunity creation and pipeline velocity.

2. Invest in RevOps to optimize your resources

One of my most embarrassing executive meetings was one where the Head of Sales and I both came into a meeting with our own set of numbers, neither of which really tied out because we were operating in different silos with our own systems. We both looked liked idiots. 

I don’t want to look like an idiot but, more importantly, I want to have an impact. To have an impact you have to: 

  • Get teams mobilized towards common goals
  • Fix the data silo problems 

Here is where Revenue operations, or RevOps, can help. 

READ MORE: What Is RevOps? (And Why You Need it for Real Sales Success)

It truly is the next frontier of competitive advantage in B2B. RevOps streamlines processes, communications, key metrics, and technology across the entire revenue team — honing in on data that reveals trends over time and areas for improvement. 

And when teams are aligned, they generate 38 percent more revenue in 27 percent less time. It’s a game-changer. 

With RevOps as the unbiased single source of truth about sales, customer experience, and marketing, everyone can come together to look at pipeline, win rates, deal size, velocity, customer adoption, and churn — and determine the best place to deploy resources. 

At any given time, one or a few of these things may need more attention. For example, we recently found we had ample top-of-the-funnel coverage. Instead, our issue was with BDR coverage to work in-market accounts and convert. So we knew we needed to employ more BDR’s to hit those accounts. 

Too often marketing is just associated with top-of-funnel pipeline, which is a very limiting view that doesn’t show you other areas of success. 

TIP: Develop a RevOps person/team (if you haven’t already) to give objective oversight of your entire operation. Allow them to shuffle resources, so your teams are more efficient and profitable.

Let’s look at PGi, the leading global provider of conferencing and collaboration solutions for over 25 years, as an example of a successful revenue team. With limited resources but an interest in separating themselves from the competition, the PGi team knew they needed to do more with less — and aligning sales and marketing efforts was the key. 

By establishing a common focus on goals, like increasing average deal size and time to contact, sales and marketing worked in tandem to create tailored strategies for each target. PGi’s sales and marketing teams molded into one powerhouse, increasing win rates by more than 75 percent!

3. Invest in a platform that brings AI insights and orchestration to every member of the revenue team

Okay, we’ve established that sales and marketing must work together to move prospects through the funnel. Yet, siloed tech stacks are pushing sales and marketing teams apart, interfering with their ability to deliver a great prospect experience. 

We have tactical apps and legacy systems that create mountains of disconnected data — making it impossible for either team to analyze and orchestrate it into meaningful outreach in a timely fashion. It’s a bit of a stack-show. 

Prospect behavior changes all the time, new personas come into the mix, new competitors enter a deal, a key analyst report gets released… 

So we need a single platform that shows sales, marketing, and customer success teams the entire buying journey. In real time. Showing us what prospects are reacting to and what our best action should be, so we can get into deals FIRST. 

To me, the most critical part of this is understanding timing. 

According to Forrester, the early bird catches the worm, with a significant 74 percent of all deals going to the provider who helps “establish the buying vision,” while only 26 percent goes to the vendor who “responds to a request.” 

So even though prospects want to remain anonymous and not talk to sales, we still have to be first to engage. 

When we all know what phase of the journey the buyer is in (especially if they are “in market”), sales, marketing, and BDR’s can work in parallel, targeting these prospects with the right message, at the right time, making our tactics much more effective. 

But in order to analyze, orchestrate, and execute in real time — so we don’t miss the boat and become part of the 26 percent — we must look to technology and the power of AI. 

With so many martech solutions out there, we run the risk of piecing together a frankenstack. And this frankenstack keeps us so busy that we have become an IT shop instead of our original ABM goal. 

RELATED: Why Revenue Ops Is Broken Everywhere (And What to Do About It)

TIP: Rather than buying 5 solutions to try to accomplish ABM, look to one platform that integrates seamlessly with your CRM, giving sales the transparency to see every touch across the buyer’s journey, enabling sales and marketing to engage critical personas in real time. 

Aprimo understands the value of a unified platform that can get them in front of qualified accounts with tailored content before contact is ever made, putting them ahead of the competition. 

Since adopting their all-in-one tool, Sales is closing larger deals faster than ever before, increasing their trust in Marketing and ABM. And their sales and marketing teams are able to work together, in tandem with a cohesive, effective message.  

Bottom Line

It’s all about the economics of winning by uncovering and influencing the buyer early before the deal is already baked or an RFP is issued. 

With the revenue teams united and able to see high-intent signals early, you can actually market to accounts before the prospect becomes known in the funnel.

But you must achieve real sales and marketing alignment. You must commit to the 3 T’s: Trust, Transparency, and Timing. 

Don’t forget the tequila! Not because your marketing strategy is a mess, but because you are celebrating the fact that you have a way to align your sales and marketing teams, putting them on a clear path to success. 

 

Latane Conant

As CMO of 6sense, the Account-Based Orchestration Platform, Latane is passionate about empowering marketing leaders with effective technology, predictive insights, and thought leadership so they can confidently lead their teams, company, and industry into the future.