It’s a tale as old as time. The marketing team is hyper-focused on awareness campaigns, events, and driving more leads to fill the funnel. Meanwhile, the sales team is hyper-focused on meeting sales and revenue goals, and nurturing relationships to empty the funnel. These two teams occupy two very different functional areas within a company. They’re moving at completely different speeds. They’re operating under their own rules. And as a result, there’s tension, misunderstanding, and even … hate. But according to Shahid Javed, Director of Enterprise Marketing for Hughes Network Systems, B2B marketers can be change agents here. They can give and get love from their sales teams. And they can do it in as little as 60 days. How? Shahid says you need a short- and long-term strategy to foster the collaboration, love, and alignment needed to drive results. In his session at B2B Marketing Exhange in Scottsdale, AZ, he focused on the short-term strategy to help marketers understand where they can start and get some immediate traction. Let’s dive in.
The Three Phases of Overcoming Sales & Marketing Beefs
In 2016, Shahid joined the Hughes Network Systems, which is a broadband network provider, team on the enterprise marketing side. When he arrived at the first meeting ahead of a massive annual tradeshow event, he found tension and chaos between the marketing and sales leaders. And he vowed to change it. “We had 23 different sales decks,” he shared. “Now we have two. We also had 500 dashboards in Salesforce—we deleted nearly all of them.” To make change, Shahid leveraged a three-part framework:
Phase 1: Listening & Information Gathering
According to Shahid, the first phase is all about listening. “I met with everyone—the head of east coast sales, the head of west coast sales, the head of marketing, executive leadership,” he shared. “I wanted perspectives. I wanted to know what everyone was thinking and how they saw their roles.” During those meetings he had some core questions that he asked every stakeholder:
- What were your objectives, roles, and responsibilities in the last year?
- What are some of your top highlights from the past year?
- What are some of the misses you experienced this past year?
- What are your goals for this year?
- What do you need from marketing to reach your goals?
It seems simple, but the act of listening is a critical first step. Why? As Bill Gates once said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” “Marketing is a service provider to sales—sales is our customer,” Shahid said. “We need to be able to empower them and enable them to solve problems. We need to make them the hero in the buyer’s eyes.” [bctt tweet=”#Marketing is a service provider to #sales—sales is our customer. We need to be able to empower them and enable them to solve problems. We need to make them the hero. @shahidj” username=”toprank”]
Phase 2: Finding the Sweet Spot
Once you’ve collected all the data, it’s time to analyze and normalize that data so you can create a plan that management and leadership will buy into. “This is where you look for common goals between leadership, sales, and marketing,” Shahid said. “It’s all about finding that sweet spot—and making sure everyone is in agreement on where things fall. You cannot do it on your own because sales and marketing leaders have to be able to sell your end-plan to their managers and teams.” Once the common goals are agreed upon, you can create a plan that helps you hit that sweet spot and sell it to the C-suite. And there are four key steps that Shahid outlined:
- Define and agree on objectives and roles. Who’s doing what and how does that support the overall business goals?
- Identify short- and long-term goals. If you only think long-term, you’ll never get anything accomplished because everyone is so busy. You need a short-term plan to get traction.
- Outline the tactics and strategies you’re going to use to reach those goals. And marketers, be honest about what you can and cannot do. Some things you may not be capable of doing yet, and that’s OK. Your sales team just needs to know.
- Document plans and actions. These are the marching order for each team.
And a bonus piece of advice to work into this phase: Make sure you have agreement on what qualifies as an MQL or SQL—and really, you should let the sales team define that. “The biggest nightmare for us was the MQL and the SQL,” Shahid said with a laugh. “We let sales define it and come up with the scoring. We knew that if we defined these and delivered leads under that scoring, sales would never take them. They needed to define it.”
Phase 3: Empowering Execution
Now it’s time to profess your love to sales by making it easy for them to become that hero for the customer. For Shahid’s team, that meant making it easy for the sales teams to access and internalize marketing materials and messaging. Here’s just a sampling of what that looked like:
- Leveraging Dropbox, Shahid’s team created and shared templates, style guides, brand guides, and more with the sales team.
- The team used Salesforce Chatter, a communications tool, to collaborate and share information.
- They created social messaging and visual assets that sales reps and sales leaders could leverage on their personal social media platforms.
“Most buyers have already made up their mind on the kind of solution they need,” Shahid said. “When it comes time for the sales person to come in, buyers need to know that they’re the problem solver. So we need to help the sales person come in as the superhero.”
Love Has Its Benefits
The collaborative approach to fostering sales and marketing love didn’t just lead to alignment and trust for Hughes Network Systems. It led to big, beautiful business results. In the last year, the sales and marketing teams have seen:
- 120% boost in web engagements
- 118& increase in email engagements
- 108% rise in tradeshow engagements
- 62% lift in social engagements
- 22% jump in win rates
“Twenty years ago, it was an actual best practice for sales and marketing to work in silos,” Shahid said. “But alignment has become absolutely critical now. The expectations are too high, [internally and externally].” So, B2B marketers: Are you ready to give and get love from your sales team? Now is the time. For more updates and insights from the conference, you can follow @toprank, @leeodden, @azeckman, and @CaitlinMBurgess on Twitter. Stay tuned for more by following the blog here.