Home > Building Momentum > Building Momentum — Part I — You’re on the same team! Get focused, Collaborate, Read the Chart Right to Left

Building Momentum — Part I — You’re on the same team! Get focused, Collaborate, Read the Chart Right to Left

There may have been a time when marketing strategies and sales strategies could be very different and still make perfect sense for your company. These days, if it doesn’t resonate with the sales organization, it’s going to be really, really hard to sustain in the budget. So why even try? Why not simply focus on creating the outputs from your marketing organization that are clearly necessary to drive sales? Why not agree that the plans are clearly and transparently aligned?

Because that is easier said than done. Because it requires a certain humility on the marketing side and a set of new behaviors that involve marketing’s reaching out to learn about the issues sales grapples with every day. For an “outbound” marketing team, I think it is really helpful to start by “reading the chart from right to left”. By this I mean looking at a classic funnel or pipeline diagram turned on its side — and then, concentrating on where marketing and sales naturally come together.

Sideways funnel

Focusing on the outputs marketing must deliver to sales is absolutely critical to marshaling as much of marketing’s energy as possible to help drive near-term business results. And if all it took to accomplish this was to shift marketing focus from top-of-funnel “air-cover” activities to lower funnel lead qualification activities, with the right incentives in place, marketing could accomplish this on its own.
In reality, the alignment that is required to optimize marketing and sales collaboration and effectiveness requires more than just aligning at the interface of the two organizations. There are two other key points where the teams must agree; where they must function as one:
Results reporting and analysis
For alignment to be possible at all, the results of the business effort overall must be indisputable. There must be a single view of the truth. Marketing and Sales must look at the same results and come to a shared conclusion. Without a shared conclusion, the teams’ priorities will immediately diverge. And there will be sub-optimal investment results, recriminations or worse.

Many companies find themselves with very heterogeneous reporting capabilities: the reporting that marketing may get could well bear very little direct relation to the reporting that sales looks at. There may be very little reporting at all at the interface between marketing and sales – and there may be no “owner” responsible for solving this challenge.
In the event of a fragmented reporting system, a capabilities gap that can only serve to prolong and exacerbate any disconnects between marketing and sales, the INE can serve effectively as a very powerful baseline and proxy such that both roles – marketing and sales – can come to collaborative agreement. The INE can tell you what actions to take and what targets to take them against. It is built on real data from companies like yours. Rather than continuing to be out of alignment, the INE can give you a place to begin real collaboration.

Planning and Action
With an agreed understanding of results or at least the best practices from the INE in place, business planning can proceed from an aligned point of view.

To drive towards optimal results, Marketing and Sales should begin planning their efforts from the same place: Who are we targeting – What companies and what roles? What are the Go-To-Markets we are taking into the field – what are the solutions we need to win and what interim objectives must we fulfill in order to truly bring the strategy to life?

Now the two plans become different, because the roles of Marketing and Sales are different. Sales must be very, very clear on where it is dependent upon marketing support and where it is dependent on marketing outputs. The two situations couldn’t be more different. In the former – marketing support – Sales is simply looking to marketing to support sales activities. Assuming that these are the correct activities (and the INE can provide an excellent best practices reference guide), marketing, in its service role, simply needs to build its plan such that it is able to fulfill. So whether it is event support, collateral builds and so on, Marketing plays a supporting role.

And then there is the area where Sales is dependent on the outputs of Marketing as a source of the demand it requires in order to meet the business’ goals. As a general rule, between 20 and 30 percent of all sales opportunities will be sourced from marketing. That’s as much as 1/3 of total pipeline at any given time. If these opportunities are to have any hope of closing at a rate equal to those that sales sources itself, they must map directly to the agreed business strategy and they must be qualified to exactly the same degree that a sales team expects of its own-sourced ones.

The INE can tell both marketing and sales what is required to turn leads into opportunities as well as how best to accomplish it. Marketing and Sales can collaborate to establish which part of the organization will execute which element of the process and which specific tactics, eliminating duplication of effort. Together they can ensure that the outputs that Sales works on are essentially the same – whether sourced from Sales or Marketing. Together they can ensure that pipeline health is a truly shared objective, as it must be to create optimal return on investment in the near term

The Benefits of Reading Right to Left
By reading the chart right to left, Marketing can take the first step crucial step to becoming truly focused on the business results so critical to survival today. By initiating this process and presenting the INE as a collaborative tool, Marketing can meld with Sales in a common understanding of results and necessary actions – what works and what doesn’t – and together the two teams can create a better, more integrated and focused plan that they can work and evolve together.

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