Bits o' Brian

Continuing the quest to align Marketing and Sales

Marketing’s Problem With CEOs and Three Fixes

A recent study by the Fournaise Group cited that most CEOs believe that Marketing is disconnected from business metrics that matter.

77% of CEOs interviewed said of Marketing:

“They keep on talking about brand, brand values, brand equity and other similar parameters that their top management has great difficulties linking back to results that really matter: revenue, sales, EBIT or even market valuation.”

I might add my favorite topic, “story” into that mix of words that might not easily connect to the metrics that matter. So, Marketing, we have a problem. Unless my “bad day in the office” fantasy of setting up a bar on a remote beach someplace pans out, I suppose we need to work on this problem. Marketing needs to:

  • Learn a new language. We all understand the inherent value in our company’s brand and reputation. Yet, it is difficult to value from a business metrics perspective. As marketers, we need to learn how to connect the value of brand and reputation to measurable results…not explicitly but we need to connect the dots. So, learn to speak about brand and reputation value in the context of metrics that matter. “Strong recognition and reputation of our brand helps accelerate our commercial pipeline, thus delivering revenue earlier and decreasing the cost per deal of our Sales resources.” You can cite pertinent studies in your industry or from the AMA regarding the impact of brand awareness on purchase preference, etc.
  • Improve operations. Much of what Marketing does indeed drives revenue, sales productivity, etc. Improve your operations to maximize your ability to tie campaigns to increased consideration, lead generation, etc. and then tie those results to increased sales, better sales (percentage of opportunities with target segments), etc. We all know that this is fraught with difficulty and is the source of many internal debates about who gets credit for what. Consider the use of service level agreements to improve the connectivity of marketing generated leads to sales opportunities. At the very least, use the “learn a new language” lessons above and discuss how the activity connects, even if you don’t have the processes and tools to measure the impact (yet).
  • Work on your marketing and sales ecosystem. The deal is, even if you have a brand that rocks, you aren’t going to effectively impact metrics that drive your business if you have a big gap in your commercial conversation. You need to make sure that your brand value translates into demand generation efforts that will resonate with prospects and get them to do something, that there is a strong sales enablement effort in place that gives the sales team the knowledge and the tools to carry that commercial conversation forward, and that they have the skills needed to keep those prospects moving toward a closed deal. Corporate Visions, who I cite often here, has a great view of this ecosystem when they talk about “messages that matter, tools that get used, and skills to deliver conversations that win.”

We know Marketing drives key business metrics. However, we often don’t tell our own story internally very well, build the internal systems that will shine a light on the function’s impact, or identify and close the gaps we have between our brand and the one-on-one customer conversation.

(Image Problems are Opportunities used under Creative Commons License)

Filed under: Marketing & Sales Algnment, Marketing Operations, Sales Enablement, , , , , , ,

Why Marketing Should Not Fix Sales Up With Blind Dates

The scene makes for great comedy in movies and television. And, for many of us, it has made for some truly painful evenings. I’m talking about the classic blind date.

It’s true that many blind dates have happy endings, but all too often well-meaning friends don’t do their homework or they are just anxious to help their friends make a connection that may lead to true love. Before the date, the story is great…so much in common, you guys are made for each other, and so on. When the actual date occurs, the story is often different.

Blind dates are sometimes uncomfortable for the participants in life, and also in business. If Marketing and Sales departments are not well connected…if they don’t understand the full story of what the company needs from them, the results of the first Sales and prospect interactions can be like an uncomfortable blind date. Marketing often gets to know a prospect through demand generation and lead nurturing activities before the sales team is engaged. It is important that Marketing understands what Sales is looking for in a prospect so that they can be on the lookout for the right kind of prospect, can properly set the prospect’s expectations, and can introduce Sales to the best prospects.

This obviously comes from good alignment between Marketing and Sales and from alignment that is based on company objectives. Tim Riesterer, CMO for Corporate Visions, recently blogged about the use of Service Level Agreements. He shares some compelling data that shows how a purposeful effort between Marketing and Sales to agree on what makes a good prospect and how Sales will treat that prospect, once introduced, dramatically improves results.

If Marketing and Sales agree on what makes a great prospect given the offerings and strategies of their firm, the likelihood of good outcomes on those first dates will improve dramatically. It’s about having an aligned conversation from left to right across the marketing and sales funnel. Marketing finds the best prospects, starts the right conversation based on the prospect’s needs, and introduces the prospect to Sales for a continuing conversation of mutual interest and value.

Filed under: Marketing & Sales Algnment, , , , ,

A bit about Brian…

Brian McGuire is a senior Marketing and Sales alignment leader (read bio here). He blogs from his experience, research and observations about the challenges B2B firms face as they connect their brand, their product innovations, and their capability to the needs and objectives of their customers. All views and opinions expressed are his alone.

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