Today's guest post is by Justin Shriber, vice president of products at C9, the Revenue Performance Company.
Recently, I connected with the head of marketing at a global technology firm. He has a great track record for rolling out strategies that drive top-line growth. So I found it ironic when he said, “The toughest part of my job is convincing the sales folks that I’ve got something to offer when it comes to pipeline-management strategy.”
My friend’s experience is not uncommon. Unfortunately, when the chief sales officer (CSO) and chief marketing officer (CMO) aren’t wearing the same jersey, nobody wins. Here are a few ways I’ve seen sales and marketing come together around lead and pipeline management to overcome the traditional barriers that put these two groups on opposite sides of the field.
Keep One Score, Not Two
While both sales and marketing would agree that the game is about driving revenue, they tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about opposite ends of the pipeline. By figuratively chopping the pipeline in half, they create a lot of dysfunction as they pursue different objectives and take a siloed approach to getting things done. In contrast, when both sales and marketing adopt a common view of the pipeline end-to-end, alignment between the two groups naturally follows.
I recently met with a company that distributes to sales and marketing teams a common weekly dashboard that reflects end-to-end progression from unqualified lead to closed deal. Once folks got their hands on the report, the dynamic between sales and marketing changed. The report led to new insight into how business could be generated, nurtured, and closed, and once everyone was on the same page, the company was able to quickly make some high-impact changes to capitalize on these new ideas.
Team Up to Eliminate Bottlenecks
All too often, companies are quick to dismiss sound-but-underperforming marketing campaigns and sales programs before they fully understand what’s driving the poor results. Often, however, it makes a lot more sense to identify and eliminate a few bottlenecks than to start from square one. To do this, sales and marketing need to work together to identify and break through plugs in the pipe. That’s what happened recently at a small software start-up when the CMO and CSO sat down to figure out why the pipeline was shrinking despite strong growth in lead generation. They looked at the conversion rates and cycle times for each stage in the pipeline and were able to pinpoint the problem. The solution that resulted involved adjustments to both the lead-qualification process and the selling motion. Thanks to a relatively minor change in its approach, the company got things back on track.
Don’t Bench the Marketing Team
When sales gets a lead from marketing, there’s a natural inclination to say, “We’ll take it from here.” But statistics show that when marketing stays engaged, deal sizes increase and sales-cycle times decrease. Rather than sideline marketing, savvy sales organizations keep the marketing team involved in sales-strategy sessions and determine how marketing can engage additional stakeholders, reinforce key messages, and block competitors. By consistently engaging the prospect on multiple fronts, companies find it easier to land the message and get feedback on what’s going on in the account.
Today, most marketing teams are as laser focused on revenue as the sales organizations. Sales and marketing will find it much easier to achieve their common objective as they develop a shared view of the pipeline, work together to eliminate bottlenecks, and collaborate throughout the entire sales cycle.
Do your CSO and CMO know how to play well together? Share your thoughts in the comments section.