I heard someone speaking recently and they said something like this, “In the old days, it didn’t matter whether your CMO was 100% aligned and on board with your sales efforts and strategy, but now it is really important.” Given all the changes in business over the last 10 years, that sounds plausible. But in reality, hasn’t this always been important? Can we really say that being aligned with sales “doesn’t matter” when it comes to anyone on an executive team? Furthermore, couldn’t we make a case that it’s even pretty important for the janitor to be aligned with a company’s goals and objectives?
More likely, the speaker meant that in this day and age, a lack of alignment is more visible, results in more friction, and is more likely to irritate other members of an executive team. As we work with sales organizations and help them improve, we certainly notice conflicts like never before. We are not alone. Just try running a Google search for “sales and marketing alignment” and notice how many million results come up!
The bottom line is that, as more and more companies make the change from cold-calling to inbound lead generation, any disconnect between marketing and sales is now pretty obvious. Of course, sales people may complain about lead quality and marketing people will complain about lack of sales follow-up and feedback, but the problems are usually deeper than that. Marketing departments might be making some of these typical mistakes:
- The wrong prospects are being targeted.
- The wrong people within companies are targeted.
- The wrong data is being collected.
- The wrong information is shared externally.
- The wrong information is being used internally.
- The wrong metrics are being used to measure success.
These problems are haunting today’s CMO. How can CMO’s demonstrate the type of leadership which will either fix these issues or stop them from happening in the first place? Here are two areas to consider:
- The sales and the marketing team need to create goals together. These goals can be anything from increasing the number of new customers to increase revenue by a certain percentage in the next quarter. Once both sides agree on the goals, they are now on the same page and know what is expected. Having deadlines or milestones also helps to keep the two teams on track. If one or both teams get behind, then it is important to refine the goal and the game plan. Each department maintains communication so that everyone in both departments knows what is occurring.
- Any marketing department needs to have a clear understanding of what the product or service is and does. They need to understand how they actually help their customers. With this information, the department can align with a sales positioning statement. This is what makes a product or service unique and sets it apart from the competition. The marketing department conveys this positioning in the sales materials which it creates for the sales team. The salespeople live and breathe the positioning statement and talk about it during sales calls to generate interest. With this method, there is one message about how a product or service benefits the customer. With marketing and sales in alignment, it makes it easier to increase B2B sales.
CMO’s can demonstrate leadership by learning to ask questions of their department and of key players within their department that put the focus back on these alignment concerns:
- Tell me about your conversation with our sales people which led to this piece?
- How does this tool back up the positioning statements which our sales people are using?
- Does this generate the type of conversations that our sales teams have indicated yield the best results?