Ep 52: Sales and Marketing Alignment

BuzzSprout Audio

“Communication involvement has to happen, and you, kind of, have to walk in somebody else’s shoes to know what is going on.” – Josh Sweeney



Josh Sweeney: Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney. I’m joined by my co-host, Taylor Barnes. Taylor, how are you?

Taylor Barnes: I’m doing great.

Challenge Illustration

Taylor Barnes: You know what, Josh, today, I’m gonna avoid the silly metaphors based on how intentional I want our listeners to be on this specific subject so I’m going to pass the ball right back to you humorless today and let’s just get right into it.


Challenge Follow up ( I too have been through this… )

Josh Sweeney: That’s not funny at all.

Taylor Barnes: It’s not fun?


The leaders challenge/purpose

Josh Sweeney: All right, so the sales leader challenge is deals don’t flow correctly when sales and marketing aren’t aligned. So, let’s talk about all the different reasons why we don’t have alignment between sales and marketing teams. You wanna start us off?

Taylor Barnes: I sure do. So, this one I see on a roughly almost hourly basis in this regard. So, when you think of marketing versus sales or marketing and sales, I’ve seen a lot of organizations, Josh, that don’t have them together. They have them extremely separate. So, one of the reasons that deals don’t flow correctly when, you know, when this happens is because the marketing message doesn’t involve a sales leader. The marketing message really involves branding, it involves a lot of other things or what have you but you don’t have someone that has their ear to the ground in terms of what’s relevant in the marketplace, so marketing, the message on marketing, not having a sales leader is one that I see all the time. What about you?

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I’m with you on the marketing message. I mean, if it doesn’t involve a sales leader, then how do you have that frontline person who’s talking and speaking with clients and prospects, making sure that that message and the verbiage they’re using is making it back to marketing ’cause I love taking, you know, I’ll record our calls on Zoom or have intro calls with prospects and they’ll say something that is the perfect line that encapsulates the challenge they’re having and I’m like, well, that challenge needs to go from the sales rep back to marketing, you know? We need to use that challenge over and over ’cause other people are having that challenge, you know? We have challenge statements on our website and it’s fun to make them up, you know, and come up with what you think they are from a marketing perspective at first but then when you hear it from the frontline, man, it solidifies that and sometimes the prospects give you ones you can never think of.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, right. Yeah, I agree with you. Again, it happens all the time and speaking of that, kind of segue into that, how many times do you hear this from sales: “Hey, those leads are not quality. They’re not quality leads, they’re just garbage,” right? So, sales and marketing, one of the things that typically makes them go like this, you know, makes them kind of butt heads together is that sales expects marketing to bring them in good leads; marketing tries, tends to fail, because, obviously, what we just talked about, they don’t have the sales leader in that regard, so I think, just general statement here, leads aren’t quality according to sales, huge reason for misalignment.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I mean, that’s a big one because when I — if I’m a salesperson and I say, “The leads you’re bringing me aren’t quality,” (1), I’m kind of saying you’re doing a bad job, right? And marketing is going to take that — may take that offensively, right? I would if I was in marketing. But, you know, and not even outwardly but just inadvertently that may be kind of how it’s taken, you know? Another thing is that doesn’t really solve the problem, you know? Because I’ve heard this from sales before where it’s like, “Hey, marketing is not giving us qualified leads,” and I’m like, “Well, we need to go to marketing and we need to say what is a qualified lead” —

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: — like why are we having the conversation? Like you’re just stating the challenge, you’re not stating the solution or offering assistance. So, we really need to know, “Okay, well, show me the last 20 leads you’ve worked,” and all kinds of things happen. Sometimes, sales is right. Sometimes, the quality of the lead doesn’t match the ideal client profile of the organization and we need to work with marketing on this.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: Sometimes, they’re completely wrong and it’s like, “Well, show me the 20 leads you’re talking about,” and I’ll have ’em show me and, “Okay, well, tell me why that one’s not a fit?” “Well, look at it,” and I’m like, “Okay, I’m looking.”

Taylor Barnes: I’m staring at it.

Josh Sweeney: You know? “Did you call ’em? No? Okay, well,” like I’m still missing why this person isn’t a quality lead, you know? You just don’t want to do the work? Is that what we’re really talking about? And sometimes that’s the case. So, you know, there is a bidirectional conversation that has to happen around quality leads and making sure that that discussion is healthy and solves a problem.

Taylor Barnes: Yep, you nailed it. Communication and involvement in general is a big reason that this happens. I also think that initially there’s just this lack of education between one another, like the marketing initiatives that are brought to and approved by the executive team versus the sales initiatives that are brought to and approved by the executive team or whoever is approving those initiatives, many times, and, this — look, I’ve seen this problem at the executive level, that we’ve got one path to go down with marketing and another path to go down with sales and they’re just kind of shooting themselves in the foot a little bit versus integrating them and educating them on a little bit either, so I see that all the time. Marketing and sales, educating each other about each other, just doesn’t happen enough.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, the communication, like you said, communication involvement has to happen and you kind of have to walk in somebody else’s shoes to know what’s going on, you know? It’s like, okay, well, why isn’t marketing doing this? Well, the biggest conference of the year is coming up and they’re doing all these other things, you know, and then there’s a resource bottleneck and we can all kind of identify and understand, okay, got it, it’s just a bottleneck, like we have to push through instead of they’re not doing something and we’re not doing something, you know? This push and pull for these siloed organizations.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah. Yeah, exactly right.


Taylor Barnes: So that kind of is a good segue into some of the solutions. I mean, when we think about, again, the reasons. The typical reasons that they’re just unaligned or misaligned. Marketing, the message doesn’t have the sales leader; the sales leader doesn’t have a marketing leader. Lack of communication and involvement. Potentially they’re siloed in different organizations completely or different departments, I should say, and no one really understands the org charts and yada, yada. Leads are an issue, some are good, some are bad, but, you know, to your great example, sales won’t explain or educate why they are bad or good; therefore, marketing cannot learn and rinse, lather, and repeat. So, getting into some of the solutions, I mean, one of the first and most natural solutions here is getting involved — getting each other involved in the different campaigns, right? The different sales campaigns, just increase in general the collaborative communication. I don’t care if this is training or education or whatnot but monthly or bimonthly or whatever it needs to be, sales needs to make sure that marketing knows what’s relevant out there and no one’s going to know that better than sales and the sales leaders because they’re getting feedback from who? The customer or the industry or the association that’s affiliated with that industry, whatever it is, they’re the frontlines on the education. And marketing can read articles and they can stay relevant and, you know, go into Gartner and whoever else to find out what’s happening, but it’s not going to be until sales and them collaborate to really focusing and get laser focused on what they should be preaching, what they should be pushing, that’s gonna bring in the most quality leads and get that sales team, you know, banging on all cylinders. That’s the one that I see that is the easiest solution to get going on, Josh.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, most definitely, and, I mean, if you’re going to communicate and collaborate more, there’s also systems that you can adopt that help support this, so, you know, we’re big fans of account-based marketing and the system that that provides and although ABM says marketing in it, it’s really for marketing sales and service as a whole and as a unified organization, an aligned set of organizations, and so just diving in and having everybody on both sides read that book and go through some planning together, you know, and having a shared framework is a big part of it because if both sides have completely different frameworks, then it is going to be hard to collaborate. You’re trying to slam these two frameworks together, like, well, sales is doing this framework and has all the sales training and marketing has this framework. Well, you know, ABM and other frameworks are able to help unify those and have everybody speaking the same language so I think that —

Taylor Barnes: That’s right.

Josh Sweeney: — that goes back to the strategy and meeting together and all the alignment that can happen.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, and I’d like to hear more on you on this one because this one is a big one but I think you’re more educated on it. When you align marketing with revenue, you know, you have that really focused KPI that you can measure and, you know, you can look at some data analytics and look at some previous experience and previous data to really understand like where marketing is the most aligned, talk to me about that one. I think that would really speak volumes to our listeners.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, so, historically, you know, marketing has a lot of what sales at least would consider some vanity metrics. Hits to the website, tweets, maybe even leads, you know? There’s all these leading indicators of work that’s being done but, you know, there’s a challenge where, at the end of the day, really, marketing is there to support revenue and so what happens is the marketing teams end up having lots of really cool metrics to show their early work, right? The leading indicators that are required, but they’re never held responsible for the actual revenue number. So, what we’re seeing is a lot of organizations are actually getting rid of or, you know, acknowledging that these are leading indicators and then making marketing actually partially responsible for the revenue number so that aligns marketing and what they’re doing with sales organization and ensures that they’re going and helping them, so think about the conversation that happens. Marketing, in a traditional sense, is doing, you know, building the content and the website and the branding and all the other things that go into marketing, campaigns and road shows and everything else and there could be a disconnect between sales. Well, the conversation switches when now, all of a sudden, marketing wants to know what you as a sales rep need from a content perspective to close that big six-figure deal. That’s a totally different conversation. That’s not a throw-a-lead-over-the-wall conversation and let’s talk about why it’s not accurate. That’s, you know, that’s somebody in marketing really taking ownership and coming over and working with sales and sales being open to that feedback and know why they’re coming in and saying, “Hey, what do you need?” You know? Because I know if a deal’s in the pipeline and I say, “Hey, I really need something that helps, you know, position the selection process,” right? We’re waiting to hear from ’em, I need something to send the decision-making team because they’re deliberating, you know, and I can go to marketing and get that pretty quickly, well, then, I can help close deals faster, you know, and marketing’s helping me so aligning marketing with revenue really facilitates some different conversations that helps everybody.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, and I like what you said earlier about the lead because that’s a big one here. As sales leaders, look, guys and girls, we got no excuse on this regard. You have to take a vested interest in marketing so you can help them qualify leads, right? We can’t sit here and say, “Oh, the leads are crummy,” if we don’t get involved. If the leads are crummy, we need to take some ownership and say that’s because we haven’t trained them to know what to look for. We’re the ones in sales, they’re not. We’re the ones in sales. They’re in marketing that supports sales but they’re not the ones account-based marketing, you know, industry marketing, making cold calls or doing whatever we’re doing. You have to take a vested interest in marketing. Now, at this point in your organization, you probably have a good idea of your ideal customer profile, right? You probably have a good idea of what makes up a good customer or a good industry or a good segment of a certain market in one geographical area. However you’re going to niche down into who you’re going after, you need to align that directly with marketing to make sure that they are, I don’t know, geotracking it, geofencing it appropriately so that you can get the best bang for their efforts involved. As sales leaders, you must get with marketing because us sitting here saying, “Those leads suck, those aren’t good enough,” that’s bullshit. That’s not helping us, okay?

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, not gonna cut it.

Taylor Barnes: Not gonna cut it. You really gotta get involved. That’s what this is about. This is purpose-driven sales. We’re intentional about this. You have to be intentional and take ownership and get with marketing to really make sure they know what to look for.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and when you do that, I mean, you enhance the marketing lead qualification process, you help maximize the efficiency of your sales team. You know, if you want a time waster, go work a bunch of bad leads, right?

Taylor Barnes: Right, there you go, yeah.

Josh Sweeney: You go educate or work with marketing on what you see is a good lead and they can make that shift for you or make that happen and you have alignment, all of a sudden, your sales reps are spending time on the highest quality items and they’ve gotten rid of a lot of extra work where they’re wasting time. So, there’s just all kinds of benefits that come in.

Taylor Barnes: Totally agree.


Final Question

Taylor Barnes: Josh, bring us into our final question.

Josh Sweeney: All right, the final question is: What are you doing to break down the sales and marketing silos?

Taylor Barnes: And let me apologize for not being very funny this episode, I promise I will bring it next one, but this has been Purpose-Driven Sales with Barnes and Sweeney. Now, go lead on purpose.

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