As part of our ECI Unlocked program connecting business leaders across the ECI portfolio we recently held our annual summit of commercial leaders. When we asked them their most significant challenges in 2023 the top five were:
- Data and automation (which we’ll look at in our next article!)
- Lead acquisition
- Lead quality
- Creating a seamless customer experience
- Demonstrating ROI
One of the key foundations for effective lead acquisition and quality, and a positive customer experience, is to have fully aligned sales and marketing structures. ECI Growth Specialist, Chris Ginnelly, hosted a panel with Mark Ryder, CCO at Peoplesafe, and David Copeland, Product & Marketing Director at CSL, to discuss what a good roadmap for this looks like and how technology is helping teams:
1. Put collaboration between sales and marketing at the heart of your structure.
Mark Ryder commented that one of the first things to establish is that sales and marketing are considered equal. Marketing doesn’t work for sales and sales are not the only heroes. Adrian Goodlife, who ECI worked with at leading digital marketing company Investis Digital, commented that one easy way to do this was to call it “Sales & Marketing” rather than two separate teams. This is a simple change that creates a one team mentality. Creating this equality is a key role for Chief Revenue Officers or Chief Commercial Officers who can break down the silos. A metric to track this is the conversion rate from Marketing Qualified Leads to Sales Qualified Leads – better collaboration should equate to a higher conversion rate.
2. Align marketing and sales KPIs and measure what matters.
If Sales and Marketing team KPIs aren’t aligned, you have a problem as it means the two teams aren’t working to the same objectives. One is likely to blame the other and works to their own KPIs not the shared team’s.
Account Based Marketing is a big opportunity in B2B to create a shared cause and outcome. Another option we debated was sharing commission between sales and marketing. This will help you to close the loops quickly and make sure everyone is aligned.
3. Create fast feedback loops, fail fast and ride winners.
There should be strong lines of communication back and forth between marketing and sales. After a webinar, campaign, event – does marketing understand what is working for sales? This isn’t a culture of criticism, but one of testing and failing fast, and committing more spend to what is really working for the whole team. Mark at Peoplesafe said that meant focussing on conversion ratio dashboards for different campaigns and products. The feedback loop also needs to go back into the product teams. That shouldn’t mean having a product roadmap linked to a single customer’s demands, as that is unlikely to be optimal for either your product team or your overall target audience. But if the product isn’t selling for some reason, that feedback should be rapidly captured and fed back in aggregate.
4. Embrace a “demo and release” product management culture.
David discussed the importance of centring sales and marketing around product. They need to truly understand what they are selling, how they are selling and who is going to sell it. At CSL that has meant a “demo and release” culture, making sure everyone understands and is excited about changes in product, right from the MVP (minimum viable product) to the final product in the hands of the customer. At Peoplesafe that has included a ‘relaunch’ of all their products internally to make sure everyone understands how to sell the different elements.
5. Adopt a RevOps mentality.
RevOps and SalesOps are growing in role scope, with RevOps the fastest growing job in the US according to LinkedIn. The role of RevOps is to unify and align the operations, systems and data that supports revenue teams. This might be getting sales guidance form the Product Team or support from finance on procurement or logistics. This is a growing tool as increasingly sales enablement is a key function of a business. These roles also help improve forecasting in finance, important for any high growth businesses, particularly those backed by private equity.
6. Get everyone on the same program.
At Peoplesafe they use Pardot and Salesforce, which are fully integrated so salespeople can send collateral directly through the CRM and all engagement is tracked. This allows alarm signals to go early if anything is wrong and creates a more consistent forecast as everyone is inputting into the same system.
7. Watch yourself selling. The harder you practice the luckier you get.
One way to drive improved sales performance is for people to watch/listen to themselves back and assess their own performance. Another is to encourage salespeople to practice. Everyone should practice the things they want to improve, but if you ask teams how they do, the answer is usually very rarely. Listen to Martyn Phillips discussing what we can learn from sports about players watching and assessing their own performance. It may be worth looking at GONG as a way to help practice.
8. Tools can help.
Keep testing new tools to see what might help. While few people in the room had seen success with lead generation tools outside of specific verticals, there are additive tools that can help to create a more seamless view of the customer journey. A few tools mentioned include Turtl to track engagement from presentations sent out, Trumpet to create personalised landing pages so people are seeing relevant information, and Fathom which summarises calls and integrates with Salesforce to feed straight back to clients that you have understood what they have said.
If you’d like to find out more about how ECI has helped businesses with their sales and marketing structures, or how we could support your business, please get in touch.