Organizations that have achieved real sales and marketing alignment are as rare as unicorns. Changes in leadership offer new chances to achieve this mythical goal. This is the time of year when leaders start mapping out 2014. A new peer can be an obstacle or a force multiplier. Below is the true story of how one organization dealt with this challenge.
I recently had a chance to spend some time with Andy Zimmerman. Andy is the CMO at Brainshark, a 250-person cloud-based software company. Brainshark provides solutions for sales enablement. Of course, like most companies, they have their own sales and marketing alignment challenges. Just because sales and marketing effectiveness is their business doesn’t make them immune.
Larry DiLoreto is the Chief Revenue Officer and SVP of Sales at Brainshark. He joined the company just a few months ago. He and Andy had a unique opportunity to get aligned right from the start. Here are 4 tips Andy shared with me on how they’ve done it.
For a complete list of Andy’s tips, register for SBI’s research tour here.Now here’s Andy Zimmerman, in his own words:
Tip Number 1: Quantify the organization’s lead volume requirements
“First off, Larry and I needed to agree on the organization’s lead generation needs. This wasn’t easy. There were many moving parts to take into account. For each sales group and each product line, we had to consider:
average selling price
sales cycle duration
lead conversion rates at all stages of the marketing and sales funnel
“It’s a lot of math. You have to factor in all the variables and assumptions against target revenue. Working together, though, we reached agreement on the volume of leads needed to support the business.”
Tip Number 2: Know who does what
“It’s also important to dig into the responsibilities of both sales and marketing. Those responsibilities start with the two of us. If we weren’t clear, our teams wouldn’t be. What percentage of leads should come from marketing? How much of it will be sales or partner generated? How much will come from activities that fall somewhere in between? How do we define those activities? All leads have to come from somewhere so it’s critical to identify all sources. Then, once this was done, we had to estimate the expected volume per source.
“Having agreement on who is responsible for what was essential…not only for sales productivity, but also for maintaining a good working relationship.”
Tip Number 3: Ensure alignment around training
“Skills development is another area where marketing and sales leaders should be in sync. As with lead generation, this is another shared responsibility. Marketing needs to generate onboarding and training content in line with the organization’s messaging. The Sales team needs to commit to utilizing and embracing those resources.
“At Brainshark we utilize our own on-demand video solution and Rapid Learning products. E-learning can be an effective and convenient way for teams and individuals to learn. But it still requires the right type of training be produced, taken and completed. In fact, we’ve recently introduced a formal Sales Enablement function to address this need.”
Tip Number 4: Ensure alignment around sales content
“Marketing is also responsible for developing field resources for the sales teams. Like many companies today, we invest heavily in content creation. Therefore we must be aligned on what resources truly improve prospecting efforts. We also have to think about what content best advances sales conversations.
“As with training, sales reps need to utilize and embrace the content that’s provided. Marketing must make this content relevant and easy to find and share. At Brainshark we use our own Sales Enablement Portal to address these needs. However, we still face challenges when it comes to producing and utilizing the content. Sales content alignment requires two things. First, Marketing must regularly ask sales for input. Second, Sales needs a mechanism to provide regular feedback on content assets. It starts at the top. The CMO and the SVP of sales must lead the way in this dialogue.”
Andy and Larry have obviously spent a lot of time developing a roadmap. You can read the rest of Andy’s tips by clicking here and registering for SBI’s 7th annual research tour. This 90 minute presentation takes place at your corporate office. It is an executive forum. It features content for the Chief Sales Officer and the leader of sales operations. There are also elements that might benefit the CMO and VP of HR/Training.
Andy Zimmerman and Larry DiLoreto are actively working to align sales and marketing. How’s your organization doing?