B2B Marketing Leaders – How to Build Credibility with Sales Right Now

August 13, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Is Marketing burdened by a lack of credibility with Sales?  Critically consider the following:

  • Does Marketing over-promise and under-deliver support to Sales?
  • Does Marketing avoid sales support activities to instead focus on projects in direct control (advertising, flash banners, etc.)?
  • Are new ideas proposed by Marketing to Sales dead on arrival?
  • Does Sales believe Marketing is undisciplined?
  • Are marketing activities devoid of a meaningful role in the Revenue Lifecycle?  To understand marketing's role in the Revenue Lifecycle, Register for the MAKE THE NUMBER Tour session.
  • Do the marketing and sales leaders rarely collaborate on revenue generation?

If you answered yes to more than one of these statements, then a gap of credibility exists.  This blog provides a proven model to build credibility with the sales leader.  Start by forwarding the self-evaluation below to your peer in sales.

Self-Evaluation for Sales Leaders

It’s common for the senior sales leader to dismiss Marketing contributions. Sometimes it’s deserved. But isn't that the equivalent of eating your own young? In today’s evolved buying process you need Marketing to give you support in the early stage of the buying process. You need a robust lead generation program.

  • Does your team regularly send Marketing on a fool's journey?  No matter what's produced you dismiss it as having zero value.
  • Do you consider collaboration time with Marketing to be a waste of time akin to meeting with HR about sensitivity training?
  • Do you make generalizations of marketing ineffectiveness (i.e. "Advertising is a waste of money") without seeking to understand where prudent execution can be a value to Sales?

If you answered yes to one or more, then meet with your marketing peer to discuss.

Strategic Model to Build Credibility with Sales

B2b Marketing Leaders

This is a proven model from the practice of strategic consulting.  Whether fair or not, marketers have to address a chasm of credibility further widened by false perceptions.  This approach provides a method to bridge the gap through actions.

LEVEL 1 – TACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION

Fundamental execution is the foundation of excellence.  Success requires under-promising and over-delivering consistently. 

You can rely on a department that reliably meets expectations.  There is no trust in a
marketing department that performs inconsistently.  Under-delivery is death. 

Consider the marketing agencies that support you today. Is their participation in strategic planning diminished when they fail in day-to-day execution? No one accepts strategy from an unreliable source.

Don't get sideways by thinking this step is punitive.  Forget the unfair perceptions.  This is about establishing basic trust.  Think about the last time the sales leader had a tough quarter.  Was the sales leader held accountable?  You bet.  When the sales leader looks across the table does he see someone held to the same level of accountability?  Probably not.  This first step is about voluntarily increasing accountability to bridge the gap. 

The sales leader regularly inspects progress of quota attainment across the sales force.  Marketing leaders must inspect the execution of sales support requests. Expect what you inspect.   

In addition to simply executing, b2b marketing teams must respond collaboratively. Your team must:

  • Spend time in the field
  • Build relationships with key sales rainmakers
  • Learn the language of the field
  • Receive direct feedback from reps to improve Lead Generation
  • Battle-test drafts of sales support materials on ride-alongs
  • Ultimately, you and your key directors must be active participants in sales QBR's

Elitist staff members who don't want to collaborate with Sales should go away.  There is no room in a B2B marketing team for this nonsense.

Credibility with Sales is established with consistent execution.  Trust is built.  Sales confidence in marketing is strengthened with each successful deliverable. 

LEVEL 2 – SOLUTIONS PROVIDER

Proven execution of tactics matures into collaborative plans to grow the business.  With a relationship of trust, the Sales team will begin involving Marketing at a deeper level.  

Your next step is active participation in the Revenue Lifecycle.  Sales is pressed by today’s evolved buying process.  Prospects at early stages are avoiding sales reps.  Sales reps are struggling with being brought in late to the buying process. 

Marketing must evolve into a direct role in the revenue lifecycle. To understand how prepared your marketing team is to participate in Lead Generation, register for one of these sessions here.  Upon registration you will receive the following Revenue Lifecycle Toolkit via email.

Build credibility with Sales

Participation in efforts tied to revenue results in significant credibility gains.  Marketing develops the capability to prove a return.  Marketing becomes accountable to a % of pipeline opportunities.  Contributing real pipeline opportunities establishes an essential role in the revenue lifecycle of your company. 

The sales leader trusts Marketing to deliver.  Marketing has a direct impact on revenue.   

LEVEL 3 – STRATEGIC PARTNER

B2B Marketing Leaders bring about frustration for their team by attempting to go straight to this level.  Expecting Sales to engage in a strategic partnership because they 'should' is the hardest path to pursue.  First build trust.  Drive it deep.  With the first two levels of the foundation in place it becomes natural to collaborate as a strategic partner.   

The marketing and sales leaders begin to seek each other out to collaborate. The marketing leader involves their team with 'in-quarter' activities to help Sales advance opportunities.

  • Annual strategic planning is done in collaboration
  • Marketing enjoys a warm reception to proposed ideas
  • The sales leader begins to leverage marketing in business development strategic planning  

The company benefits from collaboration at a strategic level that helps drive business objectives. Gone are the days of perceived marketing mayhem. Marketing has arrived. 

You’re on an equal footing with your peer the sales leader.  They trust you.  The sales team trusts the marketing team.  A true partnership has been established based on performance. 

Key Takeaways: 1. Build a foundation of trust through consistent execution, 2. Build credibility with Sales by participating in revenue generation activities, and 3. Leverage success to carve out a strategic partnership.

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Vince Koehler

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Topics: Lead Generation, CMO Resources, Marketing Resources

Posted by Vince Koehler

Vince Koehler
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