I took a rental car ride with a salesperson to a big time company HQ in support of a major sales pursuit. The sales person was a closer, you might say.
Just the two of us, from my hotel to the company’s headquarters. Pre-pandemic. The car ride lasted about a half an hour. That’s 30 minutes.
At the end of that ride, sales and marketing were aligned.
Alignment - who’s important?
There’s been a recent flood of commentary about the importance of sales and marketing alignment.
Ya don’t say.
I’d like to add product marketing and sales enablement into that important alignment mix.
Therefore, as a result, just to update and to make sure I’m with all of it, the ‘trending business development headline’ should contain: something about inside sales and external business developers, with ‘marketing over there’ and ‘product marketing over here’ and ‘sales enablement all over’ being aligned for the success, profit, and longevity of the corporation.
Oh, but don’t forget about the pre-sales team. They want a say because they’re also important to the concept of alignment. As I’m sure they’d say, rightfully so.
Oh, and let’s remember corporate marketing. If we’re to spinoff product marketing, we need to accurately recognize the other half of the marketing department via the ‘corporate marketing’ label.
That’s if your growth-stage company doesn’t have one person wearing one thousand marketing hats. Then we may need to rethink some of this alignment, if I do say so myself.
Because I’ve worn those one thousand marketing hats.
By the way, it’s starting to get really crowded and nobody has yet mentioned field consultants, alliance partners, project managers and their implementation teams…so I will. I’m sure they’d also like to be ‘aligned’. Because they all play a part in sales, marketing, resale, upsell, and retention scenarios.
Now it’s starting to get even more crowded.
End of quarter: alignment woes
Allow me to date this article for everybody involved in this fantastic corporate alignment.
It’s for each and every inside sales person and external business developer facing down today’s Thursday, March 31, 2022 deadline. (That’s the EoQ for most; substitute your own EoQ date if it’s not. It doesn’t really matter.)
It’s date and time stamping for every digital marketer, marketing operations manager, and sales enabler inside their home offices with a steaming hot cup of morning coffee — and limited human contact.
For anybody who recognizes the obstacles in the final five weeks of Q122 to sales and marketing productivity:
In the United States, it includes Q122 March Madness and the start of Spring Break. Add-in global St. Patrick’s Day celebrations for good measure.
Additionally, go ahead and toss in your own sales and marketing obstacle event to the calendar — no matter what or where, or the person or people or company, or weather system responsible.
There’s always something that gums up the schedule at the worst possible time, in any and every quarter.
Go ahead and include that cookie-cutter 2022 sales kickoff of yours that resembles the format of that 2012 sales kickoff.
Add four or five Q1 days of PowerPoint and C-Suite sessions that offer the year-in and year-out alleged promise of sales and marketing alignment, as if this is your first rodeo, and mine.
It’s otherwise known as Standard Sales Kickoff Operating Procedure to those of us who’ve been around the block, and have even done that activity in the summer.
Yet here we are again talking about sales and marketing alignment, as if none of whatever has happened before makes one bit of difference.
Alignment - because there has to be
I took that car ride with that salesperson to that major company.
And it was just the two of us, from the hotel to the company’s headquarters. Well before COVID. No masks, the car ride lasted about a half an hour.
Much of that day involved an on-site team meeting, more people from both sides, from various areas of both companies, in addition to the two of us who had shared the ride.
Marketing-obsessed metrics, analytics, reports all be (temporarily) damned. The marketing moment was now. I was a product marketer, and I spoke for an hour. Live, in-person, at a sales pursuit.
Alignment happened in conversation, in homework, and in prep. And in a 30 minute car ride.
I had to stand and deliver at a senior level to help the pursuit.
Alignment in that moment wasn’t going to come from after-the-fact reports, glossed-over spreadsheet numbers, or spiffy marketing technology. It was going to come from my ability to speak, be credible, address an audience, and add value.
There was sales and marketing alignment. There had to be.
Alignment - more than just analytics
There are those in sales leadership who crave the sales and marketing analytics of the day. An insatiable appetite for more and more metrics, reports, ratios, and outcomes. One hundred more buzzwords await.
Then there are those in sales leadership who seemingly just want to sell, who want immediate revenue: signed contracts.
Those who can sell anything to anybody, and will coach you to do the same. Short-term, long-term, net-new, renewable.
I’m leaning toward that side of the sales and marketing aisle.
Sure, I’ll run those timely reports, I’ll get the data. But I want a piece of the action. I want in. I want to hit the road. Because I’m going to add economic value from marketing. However you want to segment and label marketing.
And you’ll get your alignment. You’ll see that alignment — in those reports — however and whenever you want them. Because sales and alignment starts with knowing the customer.
It starts with knowing and supporting your sales team. It starts with marketing taking the initiative to get involved.
Spend 30 minutes road tripping to the customer, and marketing will quickly know what’s important: revenue.
But there are no guarantees of victory.
Alignment - involving more and more people
The most memorable line from that sales ride-along was when I was told about a recent occasion when I first joined the team’s weekly sales call (which, as a product or corporate marketer, I’m always going to do.).
The salesperson told me I sounded as if I knew what I was talking about, and that the salesperson expressed an interest in listening to me.
I’ve always remembered that. I’ve always appreciated that.
Metrics, analytics, and reports be damned (again, for the moment). The moment was on that call. I needed my speaking voice. I was a product marketer on a sales team call, and I knew my audience.
I’m gonna write that again.
I knew my audience. Alignment was within immediate reach, or it was a million miles away.
Marketing has one swing, once chance, in its first at-bat in front of sales. Swing and miss? Marketing may wander the wasteland and make another contribution to the average CMO’s short tenure.
Yet here we are again talking about sales and marketing alignment. Or lack thereof.
Years and years of sales and marketing counsel, advice, analysts, consulting, technology, and academic analysis.
Of LinkedIn posts and articles.
By, From, and For everybody in Sales, Marketing, Consulting, Tech, Management, Investing and Finance, and the C-Suite.
Next sales road trip, we’ll need to rent a bus.
Tony Compton holds two degrees from Loyola University Chicago: a 1987 B.A. in Communication and a 1995 MBA. He has held a number of marketing and business leadership positions over the past three decades.
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