We recently hosted an insightful meetup that brought together SIlicon Valley sales and marketing leaders to delve into the current state of sales and marketing alignment. Over the next five weeks, we’ll be sharing the insights that came out of the event, starting with this post, on the state of marketing and sales alignment.

Many Sales and Marketing Teams Continue to Be Frenemies

Marketing says the leads they’ve gathered for sales are great. Sales says the leads are terrible. And so goes the ongoing disconnect between many sales and marketing teams.

“We’re not on the same page,” said Ryan Ried, VP Sales, Oracle Marketing Cloud. “We’re not in the same room. I mean, it’s a constant battle. I like to say that we’re frenemies.”

The disconnect only widens as new hires come onboard, noted Ried, accept all the marketing leads, and fail to close them. Inevitably, they put the blame on the quality of the leads. At that point, it’s too late. The issue needs to be addressed before the leads are passed to sales from marketing. But that’s typically not happening and hasn’t been happening for years.

“I’ve seen this chasm for the last fifteen years or so,” said Ried. “A lot of great technologies are coming out to fix that, like People.ai, but it’s still a constant problem in big organizations or small.”

Sales and Marketing Build Trust with a Single Source of Truth

In many organizations, marketing is charged with obtaining a specific amount of leads, and is then understandably upset to see them wilt on the vine without any sales follow-up. This is especially true when there is a lack of transparency around what’s happening over the entire lifecycle of each lead.

“There is a natural dynamic where marketing wants to make sure that the sales development team and inside sales is following up on the leads that they create,” said Jason Dorfman, Inside Sales, Rubrik. “So, sometimes you’ll get an email that says, ‘Okay, why are there 2,000-3,000 open leads?’ When you dig into it, maybe some of those leads are ones that you scanned at a trade show. That’s where you get the sales guys saying, ‘Oh, well not all these leads are really qualified.’ You need to come up with a system where people are dispositioning those. They’re saying that they’re disqualified, they’re going to that queue, and that you have graphs and visibility showing that these leads have been dispositioned or that they’re not qualified so everyone’s looking at this single source of truth.”

Improving the Relationship By Spending Time on the Other Side of the Fence

Much of the sales and marketing disconnect comes from a lack of understanding on both teams as to the value each brings to the sales process in the organization. Panelist Jenny Coupe, Sr. Director, Americas Marketing, Akamai, did just that and help build a bridge of trust between her sales and marketing teams.

“Going into my last company, it was pretty bad,” she said. “One thing that we did pretty quickly was I actually volunteered—I know this is going to sound crazy—I volunteered to take over inside sales. Going in, it was a lot of finger pointing. We didn’t have a common set of KPI’s. We couldn’t really track what was happening throughout the funnel. And by reorganizing the LDR team, that set the table for all those other things that we ended up doing, and really enabled that to happen in an accelerated fashion.”

Overcoming Sales and Marketing Alignment Challenges

Next week, in the second of our six-part series, The New Sales and Marketing Engagement, we’ll share our panelists’ take on how they’ve overcome challenges with their counterparts across the aisle.

 

TRANSCRIPT:
Ryan Ried, VP Sales, Oracle Marketing Cloud
Jenny Coupe, Sr. Director, Americas Marketing, Akamai
Jason Dorfman, Inside Sales, Rubrik

Ryan: We’re not on the same page. We’re not in the same room. I mean, it’s a constant battle. I like to say that we’re frenemies, right? Every sales guy I’ve ever met is a better marketer than the marketing department and vice versa, right? The state of which we’re in right now, my current role, which I will not comment on, but in prior roles is that you constantly have marketing saying the leads are great. You’ve got sales guys saying the sales leads are terrible. So, what we try to do is … Obviously, marketing is going to try to score the leads, but the fact of the matter is that it just constantly is one finger pointing at the other, and we’re constantly on an individual basis trying to figure that out. Typically when you have a new rep come on board, what happens, right? They accept every lead. When you start coming down on him, it’s like, “Why aren’t you closing any of these great leads that you’re accepting?”
“Oh, the leads are crap.”
“Well, if they’re bad then why did you accept it?”
Right? So it constantly goes back and forth and that’s something that I’ve seen, this chasm, for the last fifteen years or so. A lot of great technologies are coming out to fix that, like People.ai, but it’s still a constant problem in big organizations or small.

Jason: So, in my current organization, the sales development leadership and the marketing leadership have a really good relationship. I think part of it is we’re all early employees, we’re pulling the same direction, we care about the company first. But, there is a natural dynamic where marketing wants to make sure that the sales development team and inside sales is following up on the leads that they create. And so sometimes you’ll get that graph that gets pulled that says, “Okay, why are there 2,000-3,000 open leads?” When you dig into it, maybe some of those leads are a sales rep that you scanned at a trade show. So that’s where you got the sales guys saying, “Oh, well not all these leads are really qualified.” So you need to come up with a system where people are dispositioning those. They’re saying that they’re disqualified, they’re going to that queue, and that you have graphs and visibility showing that these leads have been dispositioned or that they’re not qualified so everyone’s looking at this single source of truth. I think that’s really important.

There’s tools like that, you know, People.ai, to visualize that, but there’s also lead scoring tools as well to make sure of those open leads, there’s some automation ranking them against your current customer base. So that way your sales reps have the responsibility to close out leads that maybe rank a or b, but they can ignore things that are c, d, f. So that helps a lot.

I think the other piece to, is on the executive leadership to make sure that marketing and sales are not a competing lead source. That it’s not, “Well, if these are all deals that came from marketing and these are all the deals that come from sales … ” A lot of the time you have STR’s that are getting maybe 50-60% of their leads or their meetings from cold prospecting, and you want marketing to be marketing towards those leads you’re putting into the system because those are human curated targets for your organization. You need to have a way to track that that allows them to kind of work together. You can have a lead source that is touched by marketing that’s gone through several marketing campaigns, but maybe it originally came from the STR and you shouldn’t comp based on those competing lead sources, or non-competitive lead sources.

Jenny: Yeah. I think going into my last company, which I’ll comment more on than my current company, it was pretty bad. One thing that we did pretty quickly was I actually volunteered … I know, this is going to sound crazy. I volunteered to take over inside sales. Why did I do that? Because I knew that I had one throat to choke, right? So, coming in as a VP of Marketing, there was kind of a rebuilt LDR team, I think one quick way that we were able to course correct was bridging that gap. That was a pretty big win out of the gate, but going in it was a lot of finger pointing. We didn’t have a common set of KPI’s. We couldn’t really track what was happening throughout the funnel. And by kinda reorging the team, that kind of set the table for all those other things that we ended up doing, but it really enabled that to happen in an accelerated fashion.