Question Page

What are some of your top strategies in driving alignment with Sales?

Abhishek GP
Abhishek GP
Freshworks Senior Director - Global Demand GenerationJuly 28

Strategies usually get defined bi-annually or annually and most of us don't have complete influence and control on what gets defined. So allow me to stray a bit and take this opportunity to share some 'tactics' that have worked for me. 

1. Do you use common vocabulary? You will be surprised how many salespeople in your organization don't understand the difference between an 'acquired contact' and a 'marketing qualified lead'. Many times, this could be attributed to a combination of a lack of commonly agreed definition and lazy communication from Demand gen

2. Are you measuring the same thing? Acknowledge that solving their problem is your problem. Your success and reputation depend on whether your programs are planned to help them achieve their goals. In the PLG world, it could be a commonly agreed definition of what is a PQL. In the ABM world, it could be the definition of 'Engaged accounts'. 

3. You know their 'stated position' but do you have a pulse on their 'interest'? A stated position from sales is usually concrete and explicit. For example, it could be 'I want more leads'. But look for the underlying interests, which are usually unexpressed. For example, it could be 'I need better quality leads - leads that display engagement on the website or inside the product or both'. When you appeal to the 'real interests' of your sales teams and succeed at meeting them, you will build trust and emerge as stronger partners.

4. You need to be okay with not being able to resolve 'all' issues. There will always be a few 'open' questions and opinions about the other team that might never get resolved. For example, as a Demand gen marketer, you'd want a multi-touch attribution model to be instituted but sales might never refer to it. In fact, they could vouch for the clarity provided by a last or a first-touch attribution model. Another one - Sales might have feedback on why marketing needs to do more of a certain kind of content (because the competition does) and deep down, you know that it is a nice-to-have, not a must-have.

6. Divide and conquer. collaborate with your counterpart in Product marketing who can help ease off the pressure on you by helping sales win and keeping up the momentum. They make sure Sales are engaged and are enabled with a winning message, collaterals, and direction.

7. Cultivate a champion in the sales team. Do you have someone from Sales who helps validate your Campaign theme and messaging, and vet prospect emails so they don't read marketing(y)? This is the person who will stand up and speak on your behalf when things get tough for you (which they do occasionally).

8. Identify opportunities to build alignment. Invite champions from your sales team to build the buyer journey and the persona map along with you. Collaborate with them when you conceptualize the PQL logic for your PLG motion or define the segmentation strategy for your next campaign.

8. Build an Always-on feedback loop - given the nature of the roles, it is possible that the Sales-Demand generation relationship could get transactional very fast. Avoid this at any cost. As Demand gen marketers, the onus is on us to elevate the discussion (and our relationship) and ask higher-order questions from a place of curiosity (I know this is super difficult and I'm also learning). One way to do this is to find the right opportunity to pose strategic questions such as 'what is good for the business' and 'do we need to revisit our Ideal Customer Profile' as against 'You are not touching these leads fast enough'. Strive, as much as possible, to attain the right balance in every conversation.

2511 Views
Kathy O'Donnell
Kathy O'Donnell
Gong EMEA Marketing DirectorDecember 20
  1. Communication! Shared Slack channels, meet regularly and ask your sales team for input so they feel engaged and involved in decisions. Be transparent about how the marketing budget is spent and what is working and what isn't.
  2. Shared KPIs. The biggest mistake is disconnected goals. Having a marketing goal of driving leads and a sales goal of driving revenue rarely works out, in my experience. At a minimum, Demand Gen/Marketing needs a sales-qualified pipeline target to fill the top of the funnel. At best, it's a shared revenue target. 
  3. Having marketing champions on the sales team can make a big difference. A sales leader who advocates for and voices their appreciation for marketing sets the tone for the rest of the sales organisation. Invest time in building those relationships. 
  4. Listen back to sales calls and hear the types of objections and discussions they are having. It can often give you ideas for new pieces of content that will resonate well and that your sales team will appreciate. 
  5. Avoid jumping in to fulfil every request of the sales teams. In all likelihood, you will become much more tactical than strategic and ultimately deprioritise things from your plan that may have had a greater impact. It's always better to provide a rational explanation as to why you believe their suggestion isn't the right thing to do. For example, with event suggestions, I usually find that the target ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) isn't quite right.
  6. Have fun! Lunch chats, socialising together, connecting over the coffee machine, finding shared interests. All help build up a more personal relationship that ultimately builds a deeper connection and better working relationship.
1811 Views
Erika Barbosa
Erika Barbosa
Counterpart Marketing LeadFebruary 22

My advice can apply even outside of Sales - try to frame your interactions around the question - how can I help? Even more so lately, people feel overwhelmed with a constant shortage of time. Time is money for Sales and when possible, you want to establish this relationship from a lens of empathy and partnership.

Here are three of my top strategies to drive alignment with Sales:

  • Share insights. What better way to drive alignment and nurture a relationship than with ongoing information sharing? What knowledge, data or reporting do you have that Sales could use to better serve customers? What nuggets of information could you share that could open up a new door for them?
  • Ongoing communication. You won’t be able to forge a relationship with Sales via one-off conversations. Try to establish ongoing communication in some medium (e.g., 1:1s) and make the discussion useful for both sides. Could you help them with better tracking and reporting? Could you assist with message amplification via a tactic such as ABM?
  • Anchor on your shared goals. Ultimately you share a common ground of wanting your efforts to ladder up to revenue. This is only possible with customers who experience value. How can you approach this goal from your two different perspectives? You’ll be able to reach your goals faster as a team even if you sit in different departments.
440 Views
Kexin Chen
Kexin Chen
Salesforce Vice President, C-Suite MarketingApril 25

For sales and marketing alignment, I find understanding their core KPIs and joining their regular leadership cadence meetings allows you to understand the top of mind challenges/priorities. As you see how pipeline is progressing and the health of the business from the field leadership calls, you're able to then adjust marketing campaigns and programs to deliver on the short term gaps and plan for the long range planning needs.

592 Views
Matt Hummel
Matt Hummel
Demandbase Vice President of MarketingSeptember 5

Prioritize, invest, and over-communicate. I can't emphasize the importance of not just trying to get aligned, but working diligently to remain aligned. Alignment is easy when things are going well. It's a lot more difficult when pipeline is drying up and/or deals aren't closing.

It's important to do the work before a crisis happens. Spend time aligning on definitions. On attribution models. On roles and responsibilities. Align on what Marketing will be delivering - when, why, and the expected impact. And then communicate progress and results - good or bad. Transparency is super important!

It's also important to build relationships. Not just with sales leaderships. But with sales reps. Think about what makes a successful sales rep - it's not just their ability to manage the Xs and Os - it's their ability to build good relationships with their prospects. Mirror that - take time to get to know them - what makes them tick - and how they perceive the value (or lack thereof) from Marketing.

Driving alignment isn't easy. But like losing weight or being healthy it's not rocket science. It just takes time and discipline.

376 Views
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