In our most recent episode of B2B Nation, we talked to Sangram Vajre and Max Altshuler about different ways sales and marketing teams can and should align in order to drive more revenue.
- The problems of technology and training
- Casting a narrow net with personalized messaging
- Building customer advocacy by building relationships
- How sales and marketing can work together to achieve revenue goals
Below are some of the highlights from our conversation.
How Companies can Modernize and Grow Sales Efforts
Max: “We’ve seen two sides of the coin: efficiency, which is the technology side, and effectiveness, which is the training side. There’s a lot going on right now in the marketplace which is great for buyers. There is so much VC funding that’s focusing on sales and marketing, there’s so many really smart engineers that are coming out of schools that are focused on technology for this space, so it’s a really interesting time to be a technology buyer who is building a sales force or building a team.
“The problem is that you can’t just rely on technology. If you’re over-investing in technology and under-investing in training, then you’re basically taking steroids and not going to the gym: you’re not going to see any results. You have to take the protein powder and invest in diet and exercise to see results, just like you have to invest in the technology and then understand how to use the technology to see the results. You have to mix the efficiency side and the effectiveness side.
. . . you’re basically taking steroids and not going to the gym.
“There’s a way you can mix the two and get really high success rates while doing things that are more scalable. Leveraging the technology and leveraging the advancements in training is a huge way to modernize your sales force and organization and build out some processes that don’t require people to do some of the more mundane tasks, like logging things into Salesforce and building out those lists. A lot of those things can be automated, but the human-to-human part, that’s where you need the training.”
How ABM and Revenue Marketing Can Work Together
Sangram: “When you think about the Flip My Funnel model, it shows that there are four steps to how things work from a business perspective.
- Identify the right people or companies you want to go after.
- You start to reach out to more people within those companies who are within the buying committee or who are influencers.
- Then you start engaging with them on their terms, not on your terms or just through phone and emails, but also on their channels. There are still reasons why people go to steak dinners and golfing tournaments, and there are still reasons why people are doing digital advertising and videos.
- Finally, the best part of this, is finding advocates for your product.
“I went through those four stages — identify, expand, engage, and advocate — because businesses should start looking at that as a way of running business, not just marketing or sales or customer success. You want to identify who to go after and create raving fans, those are the businesses that thrive.
“There’s a deep connection between revenue and marketing. Max put it really well about how sales formerly didn’t get a lot of love but now is getting a lot of love with processes and technology. That’s also true on the marketing side, especially in B2B, where marketing teams have been given larger budgets to do what they do, and they have been creating a ton of leads at the end of the day.”
The Main Struggle for Creating Advocacy
Sangram: “Something I learned as we did Flip My Funnel and working with my startup Terminus and previously with Pardot is that you can start creating advocates way before they become your customers. You can do that by making sure you are focusing on the individuals and teams you want. When you have a really wide net and you’re not focusing, but instead you have thousands of people to whom you want to send an email, but you send a generic email, you’re not creating a connection, a relationship, or advocacy.
“If you take the email and personalize it — like the customer is in Atlanta and the Super Bowl is coming, you might want to send them something about the Falcons — that’s how you create a relationship, and that’s how you build fans. I think that’s how we are really missing a big part of how advocate marketing works.”
The Biggest Obstacle to Sales and Marketing Alignment
Max: “I’d say [the biggest obstacle] is the revenue number piece, which you just touched on. That seems to be the biggest thing that marketing a lot of times doesn’t have a number that they’re being held to, while sales does. That leads to the debate of ‘are these the right leads,’ or ‘are these the best leads?’
“I think you have to do the math and back into it: reverse engineer. Figure out the revenue number you need to hit for the quarter, and then the types of leads, here’s what the pipeline needs to look like, and here’s what marketing needs to be held to to generate those types of leads, and maybe even going a step farther onto what that conversion typically looks like. This way everyone’s held accountable from the top down. You guys went into it a little bit, but I’d love to understand what Sangram is seeing on that side of the business. Is that something that people are coming around to?”
Sangram: “Yeah, at the end of the day, revenue is super important, so at Terminus, we’ve aligned marketing with everything, which has been important for us. We have someone on the staff who runs demand generation, and her job is to get aligned with the SDR team. Then I have Thomas who runs pipeline acceleration and pipeline velocity, and he has a number that aligns with the account executive (AE) team, which helps drive pipeline velocity and helps close more deals. Kat runs customer marketing, and her job is to align with a customer success team. They make customer stories and those amazing customer-focused pieces that may otherwise get lost. Instead we have customer stories that validate our processes in the marketplace.
“I look at marketing as divided into three functions: SDR and AE functions, and then customer marketing. I don’t think that folks are going to stay with demand and lead generation, but are rather going to move to an organizational matrix on the marketing side to drive revenue as a whole, because even if you have a lot of leads and accounts but you have a high churn rate, you’re still losing revenue. The revenue number is not only just new deals but also that you’re working on nurture programs and other things on the customer marketing side. I think the modern marketing team is going to be aligning with the main revenue functions of the organization.”
What to See at Revenue Summit
Max: “Where do you start? I’m looking forward to seeing Gary Briggs, the CMO at Facebook. He is going to do a fireside chat, and I’m excited to hear more about how they’re looking at the space, since they’ve just launched Workplace, and they’re doing a lot more with B2B. Plus all of the data they have is really interesting.
“Mark Cranney, partner at Andressen Horowitz, and for those of you who don’t remember, Ben Horowitz was the VP of Sales. I don’t know if you’ve ever read The Hard Thing About Hard Things, but this guy was one of the first go-to VP of Sales at some of these early-stage software companies.
Sangram: “We have a lot of great Enterprise companies coming:
“These are enterprise companies that are coming in and telling stories about how they actually make sales. A lot of conferences are just thought leadership and it’s not very practitioner-centric, so Max and I and Nikki (from Terminus) work really hard to make sure that the people who attend this conference are not only going to learn about the future of the space and that inspirational stuff, but they’re also going to walk away with some how-to knowledge. How do I do account-based marketing or sales or success. How do enterprise companies actually structure their organization? How do you build your actual tech stack for sales and marketing to be successful? It’s also going to be a two-sided conversation that allows both sales and marketing to talk about what they suck at and what they’re good at.”
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