In dysfunctional companies, sales and marketing staff blame each other for problems. Such infighting consumes energy and contributes to lower sales. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) sidestep paralyzing internal conflict by taking a proactive approach and engaging the sales leadership with these ten tips.
1) What marketing contribution does sales value the most?
This diagnostic question starts the conversation on a positive note. A good answer will be felled with specific examples (e.g., “the marketing automation platform has shortened our sales cycle”). A lousy answer will be generic (e.g., “marketing helps us when we ask.”). If the VP of sales has less than glowing comments for marketing, use the rest of these tips to improve right away. If you get good reviews, share that comment with the marketing team to inspire them.
2) Obtain clarity on sales priorities for the quarter
Larger sales teams may change their selling focus from time to time. For example, sales may shift focus to the Fortune 500 after spending a few years selling to small companies. As the CMO, you need to know about what’s important to sales right now so you can pivot accordingly.
3) Request sales participation in key marketing projects
Sales input is critical for a variety of marketing projects. Therefore, CMOs need to encourage their sales peers to provide input to surveys and contribute to projects. Remember that you need to sell these opportunities to the sales team! For example, does contributing to a marketing project mean that sales reps will face company leadership? If so, emphasize that fact to encourage sales staff to join the project.
4) Seek agreement on critical sales and marketing metrics
Far too many companies still have arguments about sales qualified leads, marketing qualified leads, and other business metrics. Take time each quarter or month to review these metrics with your counterpart in sales. If sales reps find marketing leads challenging to work on, find out why that is the case. Your marketing campaigns may have ineffective targeting. Specifically, gain clarity on which metrics matter, define the metrics, and then work on meeting them.
5) Obtain access to the top-performing sales professionals
The most successful sales representatives have a wealth of knowledge that can be useful for the marketing team. Ask the VP of sales if you can meet with the best sales staff occasionally to ask questions. You may discover that a new marketing angle or way to position your product against the competition.
6) Request sales input on marketing systems and apps
Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in marketing applications. According to ChiefMartec.com, there are more than 8,000 marketing apps on the market. As the marketing team buys more tools, you might lose track of which tools best serve the sales team. Therefore, it is helpful to seek input from the VP of Sales before you decide to adjust your marketing tech stake.
7) Insight on how sales staff approach pricing
Some people purchase cars for $20,000 while other people purchase $200,000 cars. The way you present price, financing, and options makes a big difference to the marketplace. If the sales team has pioneered a winning strategy to close deals on your premium offering, the marketing team needs to hear such insights.
8) Find out what marketing collateral the sales teams need to close sales
Usually, the marketing team focuses on producing large scale marketing campaigns to generate awareness and leads. Even as those campaigns continue, reserve some capacity for ad hoc requests from sales. Your top account executives may need help with producing specific presentations to win over a large customer. Supporting sales directly on large deals is well worth considering.
9) Ask for introductions to happy customers
Have you ever bought a product after seeing glowing reviews on Amazon or another website? If so, you’ve experienced the power of social proof and testimonials. The marketing team can make the company more credible by encouraging reviews and creating case studies. Ask the VP of sales for introductions to happy customers to create more social proof.
10) Set sales and marketing goals collaboratively
When the CMO is developing objectives and metrics for the marketing team, input from the VP of sales is essential. Sales may tell you about their desire to close more Fortune 500 customers. Once you get clarity on the VP of sales goals, you can support those goals by creating Fortune 500 customer success stories and related campaigns.