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B2B Content2Conversion Takeaway: Poor Marketing-Sales Alignment Is Costly

  • Written by Kim Zimmermann, Managing Editor
  • Published in Demand Generation

C2C 13 Sales EnablementWhen sales and marketing fail to collaborate, it has a big impact on the bottom line. That was one of the key messages from the Sales Enablement Strategies panel at the B2B Content2Conversion event.

Moderator Jon Russo, Founder and CEO of B2B Fusion Group, told the audience that poor sales-marketing alignment costs $14 million a year at a $1 billion firm. “For every 650 leads, one deal is closed in 19 months and sales cycle times have increased by 10% over the past three years, from five months in 2010 to 5.4 months in 2012,” he said, citing figures from Gartner, IDC, Alinean and DiscoverOrg.

One way to encourage a more cohesive sales-marketing relationship is to consider changing the way that marketing’s contributions are measured and compensated, said panelist Frank Donny, Founder and CEO of Marseli, a marketing and sales analytics software and services company. Donny — who has held sales and marketing leadership positions — insisted that 25% of his compensation be tied to revenue in his most recent CMO position. “Sales leadership won’t respect you unless you have skin in the game. As the CMO, I had to be in the same boat as the head of sales.”

The panelists noted that marketing can be resistant to having the performance tied to revenue because they have been traditionally judged on the number of leads generated. “The number of leads doesn’t matter,” said panelist Jill Rowley, Modern Marketing Expert and Social Selling Evangelist for Oracle, who held sales positions at Eloqua prior to the acquisition as well as Salesforce.com. “You have to measure what matters, and what matters is revenue. Marketers haven’t been measured on the number of leads that have been accepted into the pipeline and turned into revenue, but there has to be a shift in the compensation.”

Opening up the communication channels between sales and marketing is imperative, said panelist Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of consultancy Corporate Visions. “Start a new relationship with sales,” he said. “Give them a fighting chance.”

Riesterer said it is not just about serving up the lead to sales, but providing some perspective. He suggested a hand-off document when marketing sends a lead to sales to help facilitate the next conversation. “It’s about campaigns, conversational aids to help sales have great conversations and the right collateral for follow-up.”

Marketing should aim to collaborate with sales through the entire buying cycle and beyond, Donny said. “There are two things that sales people care about — time and money,” he said. “From the perspective of a sales person, if marketing can make my time more efficient and send me the right people at the right time. That is what I care about.”

An Issue Of Trust

There has to be a level of trust not only between the sales team and marketing but the sales person and the buyer, the panelists emphasized.

“People buy from people that they trust and they are influenced by people that they trust,” said Rowley. “Marketing’s job is to find buyers, engage those buyers and amplify them. I read what my buyer reads. I share on my social networks. Social selling is different from social stupid.”

She said it is important to think of customers as promoters of your brand. “I prefer the term ‘future advocate’ to ‘prospect.’” Jowley believes honest, direct customer stories should be shared with prospects at the beginning of the buying cycle.

To gain trust, content has to go beyond a sales pitch, Riesterer said. “You have to divide content from the product,” he noted, adding that too many companies develop product from the perspective of their mission to sell something rather than what matters to the customer.


 

 A special thanks to everyone who joined us at this year's B2B Content2Conversion Conference. For all those interested in viewing a recording  of this session and others, please click here.