The adoption of a marketing automation platform (MAP) is a serious commitment for any company. How does the head of marketing know for sure that the time is right, and more importantly what disciplines and processes need to be in place well before one even starts shopping for a MAP. This recorded webinar gives good advice and it’s vendor neutral.
- How to know you’re ready
- How to know you’re not ready
- The processes that have to be in-place
- Be sure you have enough fuel – contacts and content
- Creating the blueprint for marketing automation
- Using your blueprint to compare vendors
This post is for all the business owners, CEOs and Boards out there who are beginning to see that Sales and Marketing need to be on equal footing in the organization and fully aligned.
Two articles suggest that the CEO’s commitment to alignment and attitude about the role of Marketing are deciding factors in how effectively a company aligns Sales and Marketing and boosts revenue performance as a result.
One article appeared in Forbes in 2011. The other article is by your humble blogger appearing here in 2010.
A few years ago the respected thought-leaders, MarketingProfs and MathMarketing, collaborated on a major international survey to gain insight about why some companies grow faster than others. Sales and Marketing Alignment Benchmark focused on identifying what, if anything, high-growth companies did differently in their sales and marketing departments compared to their lower-growth competitors. A summary of the report is available here.
Survey Results: How Aligned Companies Outperform Others
Here are some of the impressive and shocking findings about companies with aligned sales and marketing:
- Grew 5.4 points more than their competition
- Closed 38% more proposals
- Lost 36% fewer customers
- Marketing contributed at least 24% of the revenue opportunities
- Marketing was compensated, in part, on the conversion rate of proposals (deals won).
I recently read another great post on the Marketing Automation Software Guide. The article entitled, Close the Gaps to Close More Sales with Marketing Automation, was written by Sharon Drew Morgan who has written and spoken passionately about the need for new sales models and processes. The central theme to Sharon Drew’s article is that marketing automation systems (when used properly) enable companies to align their marketing and sales efforts to the buyer’s journey. This in turn improves conversion rates and sales effectiveness. Ms. Morgan made another insightful point that I want to comment on later.
But first, the best-practice of aligning marketing and sales to the buyer’s journey isn’t new. It was creatively exposed in 2003 in Hugh Macfarlane’s book, The Leaky Funnel. Yet the majority of B2B companies still don’t get it, which Sharon Drew clearly points out in her post. I come face to face with this reality when I coach companies on how to align sales and marketing. Oddly enough the concept of aligning one’s revenue-generation engine to the buyer is foreign to most companies, but slowly smart sales and marketing executives are “getting it”.
Once sales and marketing processes are aligned to the buyer’s journey then it’s time to turn on the marketing automation system, integrate it with CRM, develop the content strategy, and go into action.
Sharon Drew emphasized that sales and marketing managers must work together to identify the real buyer and get the entire decision-making team on board at the prospect company .
I was reminded when reading her article that marketing automation systems make it possible to offer and efficiently deliver role-specific content to everyone on the decision-making team. Marketing automation systems can even aid the sales team in identifying buyer roles by tracking what type of content they consume.
A check list.
- Identify the buyer’s journey.
- Align marketing and sales processes to it.
- Intelligently use marketing automation integrated with CRM to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time with the right frequency.
- Identify and bring to the “table” all of the buyer’s team.
- Leverage the marketing automation system to drive a lead scoring process that turns over leads that are ready to engage with you.
- Measure. Measure. Measure.
Companies considering the adoption of a marketing automation system are advised to read this excellent post by Matt Smith of 3forward, and then look in the mirror. Matt’s article on the Marketing Automation Software Guide blog identifies four company characteristics that pretty much sum up the types of hurdles one can expect when moving to a marketing automation platform.
- Afraid of the water
- Blissfully ignorant
- Content challenged
- Buried in bureaucracy
Matt also suggests a “simple” solution for sales and marketing alignment, which I recommend that companies view as a starting point only. Companies who are developing and following best practices in this area are tackling the stubborn issue on more fronts, as I outlined in a previous post here, The Top-10 Processes that Align Sales and Marketing.
Below is a list of the primary processes in Sales and Marketing that the two departments need to align and keep aligned over time. These processes exist at some level of maturity and sophistication in every company, whether formalized and documented, or informal and ad hoc. They are seldom equally shared. If Sales and Marketing are not working as partners to create and manage these processes, the revenue engine cannot operate at full potential.
These processes, and those in other departments that impact Sales effectiveness, are the subject of a white paper, “The Internal Forces that Empower or Impair Sales”, which provides critical reading for any sales executive who spends too much time lobbying inside his company for better support.
- Funnel stage definition: defining the buyer’s journey and designing the sales funnel stages correspondingly.
- Lead qualification and scoring: defining at what stage in the funnel a contact becomes a marketing-qualified lead and then a sales-qualified lead.
- Forecasting and reporting: a forecast is supported by the funnel metrics; these metrics are impacted jointly by Sales and Marketing.
- Lead nurturing: communicating with contacts and leads in the funnel in such a way that they advance through the stages efficiently.
- Lead recycling: when to return stalled leads back to Marketing and how to apply further nurturing.
- Customer retention and growth: how Marketing and Sales work to keep and grow customers.
- Market requirements: the way Marketing taps Sales for input to the market requirement document.
- Strategic account planning: the way Sales taps Marketing for support with strategic account identification and development.
- Quarterly planning: jointly developing and tracking revenue-generation plans and campaigns.
- Content and collateral development: how Marketing works with Sales to define and deliver the right sales tools.
This week Richard Eppel and I published a white paper to shed light on the impact that cross-functional processes and behaviors have on the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales team. “The Internal Forces that Empower or Impair Sales” helps the sales executive build a business case for improving culture and processes, including calculating the hard and soft costs associated with misalignment.
The paper is free to download at http://revenueintensity.com/wp3
The timing of the white paper is not coincidental. The books just closed on the first quarter of 2011. How are you feeling about the company’s revenue performance? If you are responsible for the revenue number, either as the company’s head of sales or as its CEO, are you totally satisfied that your revenue engine operated at peak performance? Or, are you frustrated that the entire organization wasn’t more effective and efficient at creating revenue growth?
Did the VP of Sales have to spend more time campaigning inside the company for better processes and support than he or she spent in the field with prospects and customers? If so, this is a warning sign that departments upstream from Sales—Marketing, Product Development, Operations, and Accounting—are not well-aligned with Sales and with the customer.
Download our new white paper to gain fresh insights for how to transform cross functional teams to better support Sales.