It’s not uncommon in the sales enablement world to hear people say they’re succeeding because they’ve conducted umpteen campaigns - but that’s no measure of success at all.
To me the measure of success is having an aligned sales team and marketing team supported in achieving their objectives by sales enablement, setting the entire organization up for success, and in this article, I’ll take you through the five steps we’ve implemented at Emerson to achieve that goal.
My name's Adam Wright and in this article, I'm going to talk about aligning sales and marketing and how we can better utilize marketing to drive sales growth from the marketing side.
I'll start by giving a bit of context on who I work for so you can then apply that to your use cases as well. I work for a company called Emerson and we operate in automating industrial process industries, so oil and gas, mining, petrochemicals, chemical, food and beverage, industries like that we're providing the systems and the instrumentation valves and things to allow those to run and automate those plants.
It's a highly matrixed organization, so bear that in mind as well. We're a relatively large organization with around 90,000 employees. In the slide below I've labeled it out roughly to show the complexity across sales and marketing.
We have sales and marketing teams that focus on the platform level globally, for the different world areas, for the different countries and different industries, you have that as well for each business unit, there are seven business units, and then there are sub-business units within all those different levels as well.
So when you're trying to create change, like we're trying to do within sales enablement at Emerson, you've got to try and influence all of those people. Because if you're just creating a new process or implementing a new tool it doesn't make any difference unless people are actually using it and you've communicated it properly and you've driven the change.
Marketing’s alignment to sales growth
It becomes very complex with a large organization like this so I'm going to try and talk to you today about how we're overcoming that.
Where did we come from?
Below are some of the things that we've heard in the past, where we come from, the blue is a sales quote and in orange is a marketing quote.
I've definitely experienced the bottom piece, if not, I've said something similar in the past, but I'm sure many of you reading have heard similar things in the past. We've all had that and we want to try and break away from it because it's not a great place to be, to be honest.
It's not success, the number of campaigns you do just creates noise, it doesn't help the sales organization whatsoever. So that's where we came from and the sales guys didn't really take notice because they're just focusing on their sales growth programs.
Where are we today?
We're a little bit closer, we're not in a perfect state, but our marketing teams are trying to align with our sales growth programs. We're starting the conversations, we're aligning our objectives with our sales programs.
There were a few that slipped through the net in that matrix organization, you're not going to hit everyone straight away but we're getting there, so there's some good progress being made and the sales guys are allocating the sales targets and making them aware to our marketing teams, so then we can align marketing objectives to those sales targets and try and support sales rather than marketing working in their own little silo.
The next step for us, we really want to get to a place where we are driving predictable revenue generation. So from a marketing perspective, as well, we're really using our marketing funnel to support our sales funnel so sales can do better predictive forecasting, using our marketing information and the programs that are driving marketing also.
We're getting closer, and also, marketing is not just saying, "Right, next campaign, next campaign, we sent the email out, great, let's do the next thing". I'm sure some of you can relate to that. Now it's, "Well, let's not focus on the next thing until we've really supported sales on hitting that growth target that they wanted in this region".
We're not going to help sales by doing something different if we haven't yet helped them achieve their sales targets. We should just keep optimizing until we help them get there. That's where we want to really get to.
The challenges we face(d) within marketing and sales alignment
Lack of alignment on priority programs
These are some of the challenges that we faced, and are still facing, to be honest, the alignment on those priority programs, the efficiency of our marketing, that's the key point here is we have a lot of marketing resources in Emerson, as I showed earlier, but what we're really not doing is using them effectively to support marketing.
I heard a great quote in a presentation once, "Let's not spend any money on advertising. Let's focus on our compensation". Yes, that makes sense but also, you've got these marketing resources, unless you're gonna fire all of them, you may as well make them more efficient, more effective, so that it support sales growth as well.
There's a different dynamic to it, it's just the marketing teams are being inefficient.
Lack of processes/governance and accountability
At Emerson specifically, I think it's down to lack of processes, and governance around those processes, and what I've seen is that also drives a lack of accountability.
So our marketing teams think their job is done when they've hit launch of their campaign, for example, but it's not, it's when sales and marketing have hit that growth target. So we want to help the teams get to that point.
Weak and unclean contact database
We also noticed our contact database was a bit of a mess and no one was taking responsibility for it so that was just a little bonus thing that got thrown into sales enablement as well for us, just because it was such an important element. It was hard to take ownership and to drive that clean database so that marketing can be more relevant to the customers.
Customers were suffering: the birth of sales enablement
This is when sales enablement was actually born because our customer was suffering because they were getting inconsistent messaging and irrelevant messaging and because of the lack of alignment to sales, we had really slow response times - the processes weren't there to support lead management. They weren't the right leads for our sales organization because marketing were working on something slightly different.
Based on all of these challenges, sales enablement was born and that was about a year and a half ago.
Sales enablement at Emerson
I want to talk about in this article is what we've done in that year and a half to get there. In sales enablement within Emerson, it's not about compensation or sales training at the moment, it may expand in that way in the future, but it's more around better-utilizing marketing and digital operations to drive sales growth.
I think that's a really important factor to understand. The central statement below is really what we're focusing on, those processes and technology, aligning the right people, making sure we're driving and capturing demand through our marketing and digital operations because that's what's going to really help drive sales growth.
My background is all marketing, I did some sales when I first started work, but it's more marketing focused, I'm a chartered marketer and my experience in Emerson and previous companies has been mostly marketing sided. That's driven this as well where we can really understand how we can add value to the sales organization.
My goal in this article
I've read through a few of these sorts of articles in the past and I've sat there thinking, "Yep, nice one. That's not going to help me. That's too pie in the sky stuff". So I really want to be clear and what I've tried to do with my images and advice going forward is really make some tangible inputs that you can take away and if you want to kind of go down this path, you can use the same steps.
I've got five steps here to help you deploy this in your organization. All of the screenshots, everything I've included is based on what I do with my team at Emerson every day, that's part of our strategy slides, it's our operational slides, our actual dashboard. You can see these are actual things that we are doing today, so you can take it forward.
Better utilizing our marketing and digital operations to drive sales growth: a 5 step guide
Step one: build a platform for alignment, communication and execution
The first step we did in Emerson was building this platform for alignment, communication, and execution. To start with this was building the steering team, we created this global sales enablement steering team that I lead.
We'd never had sales enablement in the past and we knew that it was going to have some very difficult conversations because we were going to be talking to the marketing organization and saying, "Stop doing what you're doing. It's not working, and change" and then sales, "You need to also change what you're doing a little bit and start taking note of marketing and using those resources more", it was going to be very difficult.
Create a formal team charter
So we've built this platform in Emerson to really help drive those changes and get alignment between sales and marketing. This is the actual structure that we have in the organization.
You can see the sales enablement steering team and these report up into our global digital council, global sales office team, and global marketing leadership team. We have lots of teams in Emerson, but it's a global large organization, so it needs to have that governance level in place.
Within the sales enablement steering team, we have the representatives from sales and marketing - so the sales leaders and the marketing leaders for every world area and business unit globally. That means a lot of people, but it's also necessary if you want to drive that change out and get consensus. Within the sales enablement steering team, we've then created some sub functional teams that can also make decisions themselves own projects to drive change.
Most likely you've got people in these functional teams whose boss's or boss's boss will be sitting on the steering team. So again, you're trying to infiltrate across the organization to make some change.
Create a structure for collaboration and decision making
Now, any decisions that can't be made at this level or they don't feel comfortable with, they bring that to this steering team, and the same again, if the budgets are too big, we then take that up to one of these three functional teams.
We're also now deploying sales and marketing partnership teams within the world areas. The way that Emerson operates is our sales organizations are set up within each country and world area level. We need to actually influence those on the ground.
Being in a global team, you've probably seen this before, global teams are like pigeons, the strategic account leaders are like pigeons, they come in, they shit all over the place and then they fly out again. We don't want to be that, so we're trying to deploy this structure to really make change in the areas where we need to.
We often think of it as like, how do you influence the bag carrying sales guy in Poland, and the marketing guy in Czechoslovakia without having to go call that specific person? We need to use the resources and that's why this structure is really important to help deploy that in our organization.
Align on the priorities and measurable objectives
Obviously then, this allows for aligning on priorities and objectives, and then the communication is critical. If you haven't communicated a change, it's not a change. You haven't done anything.
Communicate, execute, communicate some more
And then executing and communicating the value you provided. I think that's where we've had a lot of success in Emerson is just by measuring results and measuring process improvements and then communicating them out and making sure people know what we're doing. Every day I get new requests saying, "Right, we need to be a part of this. We need some support, we need you to get involved". It's a great way to know that you're on the right track.
Educate, inspire, and drive change
In the image above you'll see I mentioned educate, inspire, and drive change. I think the team of sales enablement needs to be able to educate the organization. It's a very ambiguous thing sales enablement at the moment, especially in Emerson, so you've got to help sales cut through the bullshit of marketing and marketing cut through the bullshit of sales because people don't know what they're talking about.
The sales guys don't know what you mean when you're talking about MQLs or talking about campaigns. Marketing doesn't understand the sales processes. So you've got to have someone who can really help educate the organization. Because it's difficult to make this change, you've got to have someone who can really inspire the organization to make that change and to care about it enough to actually change because me sitting in my global team can't change the life of that Polish guy who's out in the street, it's his world that needs to be changed.
You need to have the people closest to him, and you to inspire them to make that change. That's so important to have that kind of charisma in this role.
Step two: match your current processes against your expected gold standard
What we've done is map out our gold standard process:
- What are your current processes?
- What do you think they should be?
- What is the gold standard?
This is where you may want to use a third-party consultant or support to say what is the best practice. But what we did is we focused on these three areas.
The lead management process
We dissected every step of that lead management process, we then took a kind of best practice demand waterfall model, and we mapped that out specifically as well. We also mapped out our integrated sales and marketing programme model - what would be the best model or process to follow in order to get an aligned sales and marketing programme together?
Identify gaps or areas of weakness
Once you've mapped those out, you can then identify the gaps and the weaknesses that you've got, so that then becomes a bit of your priority programs - your priority projects to change.
Identify metrics that can be tracked to show progress
It also means that you can then identify how do you measure each of those steps. So if you're influencing and impacting part of the lead management process, or the demand waterfall, they become your metrics. At the bottom of the image, in orange, I've given you some of the metrics that we're measuring on a day to day basis.
That just shows progress and they're the kind of thing you want to be communicating out when you're succeeding in these areas and driving positive change.
Step three: get your foundations in place
Next up was getting our general foundations in place.
It sounds trivial, but the amount of wasted time people have talking about what is a lead? We worked with the sales enablement steering team like a year ago, that was one of the first things we did on the definitions.
I still get it today, people on the actual steering team saying, "Oh, we still need to figure out what a lead is, though". Are you kidding me? It's hard and we're still working through it and there are little ways you can make them feel bad for being stupid, but you try not to be too direct.
It's hard driving these changes, but getting your definitions in line really helps people, it takes that off the table. Especially because we grow by acquisition quite a lot and when you have this documented it really helps because when this new organization joins, you can just send them all the stuff.
Just recently at Emerson a new person joined in Asia, and they sent me some details around lead management stuff. I sent them three standard decks, and that was everything they needed because the process is set, I'm not gonna have the same conversation with that team about, let's decide the lead definitions again. No, that's done, we're good for that unless we want to optimize it and we'll review it on a regular basis, and then we'll change.
Dashboards and metrics
How are you going to measure the impact that you're making? This is so important and this is where we spent a lot of time to start with as well. We use Tableau as you'll see, using the process maps that we did previously, you've got those now documented, again, you can share them with the new teams and the new acquisitions that you've got just to help them understand the process.
But they will help drive what should be in your dashboards, and I'm in these dashboards every day now. Now we've focused on a lead management dashboard for sales enablement, a conduct health dashboard, and a campaign dashboard. And now there's going to be a key account focused dashboard for the sales organization, and then we're going to move the campaign tactical dashboard to a more of a sales and marketing growth program dashboard.
What does that look like that sales and marketing aligned program and how are we optimizing it? These are really critical things to get in place so you can measure what you're doing and communicate it out.
I've sat in presentations a couple of years ago where the Middle East and Africa team would present their marketing campaign with really smart data on the screen and they'd say, "Fantastic success in this program". Next up would be the Latin America presentation, completely different but with the same outcome though, "Absolutely fantastic campaign, great value", as soon as you scratch beneath the surface of those campaigns it's a load of bullshit, it doesn't make any sense because they're taking different data sets.
What's worse is they've spent two weeks creating the chart because they had to mine the data in excels and pull it out from different systems. So, this has been a great optimization tool just to save resources. When you want to compare programs and compare processes across world areas and business units, it's all consistent. It takes that whole topic off the table of:
- What does the dashboard look like?
- What does the campaign slide look like?
You've just got something you can copy and paste and chuck it straight in, and then people will know what they're looking at. It makes a big difference, so it's worth spending the time there early on as well so you can communicate your successes.
Step four: identify priority projects
Use the cross-functional team
I've talked about that structure that we created to start with, you've got to use that, the leaders of the marketing and sales organization across your business units and your world areas, all on one team trying to drive change.
Use collaboration tools
You want to use that team to help decide what the priorities are, and then help drive them. So what we do on an annual basis is get the teams together, either face to face or remotely, where we identify all of the best ideas and we prioritize them. Shown above is a screenshot of a workshop we did two weeks ago, we couldn't meet face to face this year so we used a tool called Mural - it's a great remote collaboration tool.
All these little yellow things are little post-it ideas that the sales and marketing leaders at Emerson have put together across the demand funnel. These are the ideas that we need to deploy that we think are going to make an impact across that whole sales and marketing funnel. We cluster them into groups and then we plot them on this difficulty importance matrix.
So you really only focus on the strategic and high-value projects. So next time I present to the steering team again, and I'm going to talk to them around what are the global priorities that we're going to be focusing on in the next two years.
As part of this is helping people prioritize the projects for their local areas, because again, there's going to be certain things that only this business unit really want to focus on next year or this world area and we don't want to force something else down their neck, we want to go with them as well. So there are certain things that we'll influence globally and then certain things that we'll just say, "Well, this is your priority list".
I'll have regular monthly calls with those teams to say, "How are we getting on with your priority list? What can we do to support you? And what are you doing to drive change?" And I think we've got to be really hands-on with that because otherwise if you don't, you won't be able to drive the change.
These people are really busy. They're busy doing what they were doing before. Marketing leaders are busy still creating those hundred campaigns, they're busy creating more campaigns. So until you really put your foot down and get in there and start trying to change them and give them this priority list, that's when you're going to start driving that change for them.
Assign owners and sponsors
And obviously allocating owners and sponsors and being really rigorous on what projects have been prioritized and what projects have been actually delivered. You've got to have a really methodical way of driving that otherwise it's going to get loose again and you're not going to get any change.
Step five: the four pillars of continuous improvement
This is something that we've kind of dreamt up in the last two to three months and I like to call it the four pillars of continuous improvement and I really love this concept. What we've said is there's gonna be four pillars that we focus on to drive continuous improvement in sales enablement so we're optimizing the organization.
I want to create a culture change in our marketing organization that uses data to optimize our activities so we're always doing the best we can to support sales growth. the first step is to create those dashboards, and that now means if there are any more dashboards, you need fair enough or enhancements to make sure that we're getting the right data points, that that's still going to be an element.
Training and adoption
Then it's training and adoption so that’s do they have the right tools to be able to measure and use the dashboard, do they understand it? One of the challenges that we've had is people love a dashboard but not many people actually know how to use the data to make decisions.
They think, "It's going up, fantastic. Oh it's going down that's really bad". But it's hard, you've got to be able to read it and know what action to take based on that. I think our organization struggles with that, and probably many other people do as well. So the training and adoption we want to drive is helping people understand how do you take action on that data?
Until you do that, the dashboard is just pretty, it's not doing anything else.
Insight discovery sessions
The next thing is these data insight discovery sessions we're setting up, so our team is going to drive calls with each world area and business unit where we sit down with them and review their progress around their priority projects, around their campaigns, around their effectiveness, and we almost force the conversation to use the data with them and help them decipher it.
Again, this is to try and get them to use the data - if you're letting them get on with it alone they're not going to focus, they're gonna carry on doing what they did before.
So we're going to encourage them to actually have those conversations, we will set up those meetings with them, with the right people and say, "This is how your situation looks, you've got a real problem with the amount of leads that you're creating, they're all getting rejected, this is how you need to change it". Or, "All these leads are getting accepted in CRM, but then they're just getting rejected at this stage. So what does that mean?" And helping them drive an action plan based on that.
Best practices is one of these things, I've created a best practice log before and it does nothing, it just sits on a shared drive somewhere, an Excel sheet, and then no one looks at it. We want to get away from that.
What I want to do now is create the log, we do need a log of best practices, but then we will introduce that to create some of the agenda for the insight discovery sessions. So if Latin America has some great best practices they've just learned, we put that into the log and we then make sure that every insight discovery session we have with the rest of the organization, we make that as part of the agenda, "Hey, this is what Latin America's done, it's working great. Let's see if we can implement it on one of your next programs and put that in place".
The results since inception
In the last 1.5 years since the inception of sales enablement, these are some of the results that we've had.
We can't take accountability for all of it, obviously, but having the focus to drive these changes is having a great impact. It's really supporting our sales teams and our marketing teams. We can do so much more as well in sales enablement, I can see the opportunity going through the roof, and I'm super excited about it. But it's already showing great results.
I communicate these out more and more people in our organization are coming to us saying we want support, we want you involved, which is great.
What's next for Emerson?
This is our strategy review chart which is kind of a high-level summary that we have for sales enablement in Emerson.
I've had to take out our dollar numbers obviously, but each of these is tied to an incremental growth number that we are expecting to achieve in Emerson by deploying these areas. So contact database and quality obviously, that's a foundational piece to making sure we comply with GDPR etc.
Continuous improvement and SPEED, so this whole lead capture and qualification process making sure we follow up with customers. I heard someone say recently B2C is impacting B2B expectations and it's so true, we now have to deliver everything in a day. Thank you very much Amazon, because it's really, really hard.
So we've just spent the last year transitioning to a new CRM system so we've had a good opportunity to now overhaul that whole process and how that looks and how we can align that with our demand funnel as well, which has been a great opportunity.
Next up is site intent monitoring - we want to be able to understand specific sites, not at the account level when you speak to these ABM or account-based marketing companies, they're great, but they're doing it at a high level.
For example, Shell, one of our customers, they'll say, "Shell's doing this!" And we'll say, "Well, that doesn't help us. Because actually, every specific site in Shell has a different target and a different focus". So I only care what that site does. We're going to try and create a model, which takes that data off specific sites, the key personas on those sites who are showing interest in certain solutions of Emerson and how do we provide that data to our key account managers in CRM to say, "This should be your agenda topic for the next meeting you have with this account, because this is what the digital footprint is showing us".
Top of the funnel, top of the list here is our sales and marketing growth programs. We've created a whole new functionality in our CRM system now to manage these sales and marketing growth programs. You have sales objectives, marketing objectives, and then our marketing automation tool feeds into that and then you don't just measure campaign and leads you measure sales objectives of a growth program.
These are the marketing campaigns that support it so sales can actually see them and then this is what marketing's supporting with, this is what sales is actually driving, and together, you can try and hit those targets rather than having them separated.
We're really excited about getting that off and actually, last week, we got insight that it's this growth program functionality that is driving on North America CRM utilization, which is really exciting and just shows that they're reaching out for this kind of stuff.