Empathize To Realign: Demandbase Experts Weigh In On Keys To Sales & Marketing Alignment

Published: June 25, 2024

Despite repeated proclamations about the importance of interdepartmental alignment, sales and marketing still go together like oil and vinegar. With these misaligned teams continuously serving as organizations’ efficiency kryptonite, John Eitel, Demandbase’s Chief Sales Officer, and Kelly Hopping, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, teamed up to write, “Yes, It’s Your Fault: From Blame to Gain: Achieving Sales and Marketing Alignment to Drive B2B Growth.”

The pair — who lead sales and marketing, respectively, for the account-based go-to-market company — wrote the book to provide a “refreshing” perspective on what achieving sales and marketing alignment really requires. The pair tapped into their experience and current working relationship to offer a glimpse at the origins of sales and marketing misalignment, the factors that have contributed to the current status quo and the steps needed to drive alignment. To that end, the Demand Gen Report team sat down with Eitel and Hopping to gather more insight into aligning these infamously disconnected departments.

Demand Gen Report: Can you provide a brief overview of the current sales/marketing alignment landscape, and discuss how misalignment impacts business?

John Eitel & Kelly Hopping: Sales and marketing alignment is a major issue today. When these two departments aren’t in sync, it can cost organizations more than 10% of their annual revenue. In the U.S. alone, this lack of coordination leads to a wasted $1 trillion or so every year. Misalignment also causes trust issues and misunderstandings, making collaboration difficult and slow. With teams more spread out, heavily reliant on technology and navigating an unpredictable economy, things have only become more challenging — in fact, 48% of teams said they’re not aligned, according to the “2023 C-Suite Go-To-Market Benchmark Survey.”

DGR: What are typically the top challenges with alignment, and what causes them?

Eitel & Hopping: To start, few people realize that sales and marketing were never created to be aligned in the first place. In the book, we credit Scott Albro with the idea that, early on, marketing was more of a communications and “arts and crafts” department, while sales was about long lunches and golf games. Only over time have we begun to recognize the untapped value in the intersection between the two.

Despite realizing its potential value, though, misalignment rages on. Currently, some of the biggest roadblocks are the geographical distance between team members, resistance to changing how things have always been done, lack of buy-in at the top… and the list goes on. But really, a glaring lack of relationship is the heart of the issue.

When you invest in the relationships between individual team members, tap into empathy, try to understand why one department operates the way it does and start reorganizing your daily practices to include shared goals and metrics, you can get past those challenges and truly achieve alignment.

DGR: What encouraged you to write “Yes, It’s Your Fault”? How did your respective experiences in the industry shape and influence the book?

Eitel & Hopping: We decided to write this book because the problem wasn’t going away on its own. We’ve spent many years in sales and marketing, respectively, dealing with all sorts of tricky situations. We’ve learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t — by sharing our experiences, we hope to help others avoid the same mistakes.

Our combined experiences taught us the critical importance of aligning sales and marketing. As the new CMO and CSO at Demandbase, we’re working on our own alignment story in real-time, which allows us to bring fresh, actionable insights to our readers. Through the book, we included true snapshots of our ongoing journey (the good, bad and ugly) so we could help others navigate their own paths to alignment.

DGR: Can you share a brief synopsis for our readers?

Eitel & Hopping: We’re all tired of the blame game between sales and marketing teams, especially because it’s created fractured internal cultures and lackluster business outcomes. The problem is that, despite a general awareness that misalignment is an issue, no one really knows how to fix it. In “Yes, It’s Your Fault!”, we present the ultimate guide to bridging this gap between sales and marketing and fostering true collaboration. The book first delves into the root causes of sales and marketing misalignment. Then, through anecdotes and practical insights, we cover the solutions (broken down into manageable strategies).

Our goal was to help practitioners and leaders transform finger-pointing and blame into handshakes and accountability, unlocking the full potential of their organization.

DGR: What sets your book apart from other literature in the industry? What are some takeaways you expect readers to walk away with, that they may not have heard before?

Eitel & Hopping: There have been other books on sales and marketing alignment, and it’s been a hot topic for many years, so we know we’re not the first with the message of its importance. But we do have a unique window into what it takes to achieve. Our perspective comes from our decades of experience in our respective departments and how we’re now bringing all that knowledge into our current relationship as leaders at Demandbase.

Some of the messages we’re most hopeful our readers will receive include:

  • Misalignment has been caused by a variety of factors over many, many years — it’s not just your coworker’s fault;
  • Alignment is all of ours to fix and to own (hence the title of the book);
  • Investing in relationships and the human element in alignment is one of the greatest keys to achieving real unity;
  • Getting your teams aligned won’t be easy or fast, but it is attainable – and one of the most worthwhile initiatives you can undertake; and
  • Your people and your business will thrive once you’ve turned the ship around and created a culture of collaboration and true alignment.

DGR: What gaps in the industry do you think this book fills? How do you think it’ll shape the industry going forward?

Eitel & Hopping: We hope to offer a truly honest view into what’s worked in the past, along with what hasn’t — and what’s working for us right now, as well as what isn’t.

We’re very upfront about the fact that there is no silver bullet for alignment, and we hope our honesty and actionable guidance are refreshing and valuable.

If organizations follow the path we outline in the book, the industry will operate more smoothly and achieve much greater success. Better yet, practitioners and leaders (and customers, because of the trickle-down effect) will be more fulfilled in their roles and professional relationships. Life’s too short for contention between departments; it serves no one and hurts everyone. It’s time we all move forward to something better.

Yes, It’s Your Fault” is available for purchase now — to learn more and get a copy of the book, check it out on Amazon.


Posted in: Industry News

Tagged with: Demandbase

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