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It’s an age-old problem: sales and marketing, walking out of step with each other—and sometimes even getting in each other’s way.

A lack of alignment between sales and marketing can’t exist anymore. The seller and marketer are less in control than ever. Alignment is critical.

In this episode, we interview Tracy Eiler, CMO of InsideView and co-author of Aligned to Achieve. Tracy shares her own alignment experience with her co-author, InsideView’s VP of Enterprise Sales, and shares some tips on how to get sales and marketing in sync.

Some highlights from the show include:

On Competition with Sales

You know I think we’ve all worked in companies where your CEO wants you to fight with your sales VP. I worked for a CEO once who told me he wanted healthy tension between sales and marketing and that was really a euphemism for ‘I want you guys to duke it out.’ And like survival of the fittest you know we’ll get a better result – which I think is just utter baloney. So when sales and marketing are really in lockstep together, you can really be an unstoppable force.

On Asserting Yourself as a Marketer

I have a phrase that I really believe in which is ‘marketing exists to make sales easier, but we’re not doormats.’ And every word in that phrase is very carefully chosen. It is marketers’ job to make sales easier. No question. And you know you can apply that statement to almost everything marketing does – from branding all the way to product marketing and messaging to sales enablement and so on. The key to me is the ‘we’re not doormats part.’ We all know marketing folks who run around after their sellers like order takers at a restaurant and say “what do you want to have for lunch today?” And really we need to be the kind of marketer that says, “You know, the fish is incredibly fresh today. This is what you should have and this is what I recommend.” The tricky part comes in when you have sales folks who might be bullies and there’s a lot of those.  We’ve all met them.  Sales people are wired to be pushy and aggressive. That’s why they close deals. And they often apply that behavior to their marketing colleagues.

On Going All-In on Pipeline

Aligning around pipeline numbers is the best way to go. You have skin in the game then with your sellers. And it also helps you in marketing make really hard decisions about what you’re going to do and not do because we all know we have way more ideas and way more opportunities to generate interest from the market than we could ever accomplish in a day. So it’s just all about choice. And when you’re aligning around pipeline it really helps you make good choices. You know you can go down a rat hole of [figuring out] how much pipeline is marketing-sourced and how much is sales-sourced. I have found that attribution is remarkably hard to measure. If we are in a multi-product long deal cycle enterprise type sale it’s almost impossible to say you know who is responsible for what or who can take credit…So what we do is we just on line on 100 percent of the pipeline and we say okay our base going to sign up for supporting 100 percent of its pipeline and we are in this together and we’re going to do everything we can. And so when we’re looking at campaigns for example or we’re in our marketing meeting we are always look at the pipeline outcome of course and marketing meetings were looking at earlier on all metrics all the time. So I would argue that you know tackle the pipeline agreement and you’ll see some pretty amazing things happen.

On Sales Enablement

We had the problem that all marketers have where you know you’re creating tons and tons of content and your sellers can’t find it. They’re not sure what the right version is, and not necessarily sure when to use it with the buyer. My worst example was I was roaming around our SDR teams listening in on calls one day and asked one of our more seasoned SDRs how it was going and he said “My God, I’ve been getting all these inbound calls from customers of one of our competitors. And I just wish I had something to show them that would give them a competitive comparison.” And I just about lost my lunch because we had just rolled out six weeks before a competitive comparison from the product reviews site G2 Crowd where we were incredibly positively rated against this competitor.

On the Lead Handoff Process

As a CMO you know people sometimes laugh at me about how in the weeds I get on that kind of detail. Definitions and hand off points need a lot of attention and I would start there. And once you start solving some of those things your sellers are going to relax. They’re going to trust you more. They’re going to be more productive.  You’re going to see the fruits of your labor. From the marketing perspective you’re going to get better conversion rates.

On Partnering with Finance to Understand the True Ideal Customer Profile

So last year we embarked on an exercise to determine our ideal customer profile. And like any marketer you know we already have segments that we go after where we believe it will be a good fit. What we really wanted to know what was truly happening in our customer base. We’ve been around long enough now and have enough customers. It was really time to do that analysis. In partnership with our finance team, we did an ideal customer profile analysis. Imagine a four-by-four grid with the horizontal axis being your renewal rate and the vertical axis is the up-sell rate. We mapped our entire customer base on this grid. And as you might expect in every single box on the grid we had customers.  We basically had a like a bubble chart and we had a circle in the size of the circle was the size of how many customers there were. We had an alarming number of customers in a particular segment that was in that lower left quadrant meaning that they were great top funnel leads. They converted but they had a really low renewal rate and we never sold them more. Unless you do that kind of analysis you’re going to think you’re doing fine.  Sales and Marketing both make their numbers because marketing’s generating lots of leads that turn into revenue. But if they don’t renew it’s bad revenue. So that whole idea that marketers need to be thinking about good and bad revenue I think is a really new idea. And the way that we operationalized this analysis was to take the six segments that were in that upper right quadrant where the renewal rate was awesome and the propensity to upsell is very high. And we’re focusing in on those in our enterprise business and in our ABM strategy.

Resources from the episode:

  • Tracy’s book: Aligned to Achieve
  • Highspot, the sales enablement solution Tracy invested in to solve her sales content challenge
  • Influive, the customer advocacy solution Tracy credits with improving the effectiveness of their referral programs
  • Challenger Sale, a sales methodology from CEB (Gartner)
  • Connect with Tracy on LinkedIn and Twitter
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