Next week, we’ll be at SaaS’ biggest event of the year, SaaStr Annual in San Jose, CA. SaaStr Annual gathers 15,000 of the best SaaS executives, founders, and venture capitalists to learn from each other, share ideas, and network. At the conference, Seismic’s Chief Revenue Officer, Ed Calnan, will be joining author and Founder/CEO of JD2 Consulting Jeff Davis, and Outreach Chief Marketing Officer Margaret Arakawa on the panel, Aligning Sales and Marketing to Accelerate Growth with Outreach and Seismic. The group will get specific on how to align sales and marketing to deliver an amazing customer experience for today’s buyers.
In advance of the show, we caught up with the three panelists to preview some of the tips they’ll discuss, and to see what other sessions they’re most interested in attending at the conference. Let’s dig in…
Why should SaaS leaders prioritize sales and marketing alignment?
Ed:Almost 85% of buyers say the experience itself is more important than what they’re buying. Yet, only 23% of buyers had a positive experience in their last purchase. Businesses simply aren’t measuring up. Delivering a compelling buyer experience akin to the Spotify’s and Netflix’s of the world is rooted in the ability to deliver the right stories, or content, to the right buyer at the right time.
With no alignment between marketing and sales on what’s working and what’s not, there’s no way to know which stories are resonating and which stories sellers are telling. This kind of blind spot makes it incredibly challenging to ensure the right experience and message is delivered throughout the buyer journey.
This scenario is made even more challenging as a high-growth SaaS startup with the pressures of lots of new sales and marketing hires, expansion into new geographies, and new products to sell. It’s for this reason that SaaS companies like Sisense, Accruent, Recorded Future, and many others, are leaning into sales enablement and considering it as a way for CROs and CMOs to unite around delivering compelling stories throughout the buyer journey.
Margaret: The fact that marketing & sales alignment continues to be a core topic in webinars, events, and books, is because alignment between these two departments is still a huge pain point! Sales and marketing are historically siloed, often due to very different goals. This lack of alignment creates a leak in the sales funnel leading to lost revenue. And, more importantly, misalignment affects the experience you offer your customers. A focus on aligning marketing and sales under a common metric — something more granular than just “revenue” — helps. For example, “opportunities won from X event” allows a company to quickly and effectively bridge silos and focus the overall go-to-market team. The drama that comes from constant finger pointing instead becomes a celebration of joint wins. At Outreach, our sales and marketing teams share common goals and meet regularly to brainstorm how to achieve these goals.
Jeff: Misalignment between sales and marketing can cost a company 10% or more of revenue. A growth-focused company can’t afford to operate in this way for very long if it wants to scale. Due to digital disruption, today’s modern buyer requires a buying experience that is seamless and easy to navigate. In addition, this disruption has empowered them with nearly unlimited access to information, people, and resources which means the buyer-seller relationship has fundamentally changed.
Companies no longer control the availability of information about their product or service and thus must engage buyers in a new way that focuses on providing upfront value and facilitating their buying team in making a decision that is best for their unique business situation. Aligning the efforts of these two teams represents the most cost-effective way for today’s SaaS organizations to win the business of the modern buyer and increase revenue growth.
What other talks or sessions are you looking forward to attending at SaaStr Annual?
Ed: Several Seismic customers and partners will also be speaking at SaaStr, so I’m especially interested in hearing their presentations, including:
- “10 Things I do to Meet 500+ Customers a Year As CEO” from Nick Mehta, CEO at Gainsight. Maintaining strong relationships with customers is so important. And, often, many forget how valuable face-to-face time is. I’m interested to hear Nick’s strategies for prioritizing these meetings, and how he balances his schedule to set an example for the rest of his team.
- “The SaaS Trust Crisis: How We All Got Here (And How We Get Out)” from Godard Abel, co-founder and CEO at G2 Crowd. G2 Crowd has mastered capturing the voice of SaaS customers to help buyers make informed decisions before purchasing. I’m especially interested in hearing Godard’s point of view on why there’s distrust between SaaS companies and buyers, and how the industry can correct the issue.
I’m also excited to listen to sessions from best-in-class SaaS companies, Salesforce, Adobe, and Drift, among others. The speaker line-up is incredibly impressive this year.
- “Lessons learned from founding a billion-dollar company to taking it public” from Michelle Zatlyn, COO at Cloudflare. I’m very excited for this one, as Outreach became a unicorn valued at over a billion dollars last year. Learning from some of Cloudflare’s successes and setbacks could be helpful as we look to take the next step in our growth journey.
- “Building an inclusive culture for all… the Do’s & Don’ts” from Carin Taylor, Chief Diversity Officer at Workday. Diversity and inclusion are core values at Outreach, but that doesn’t mean we have all the answers. I’m excited to learn what other companies are doing to create an inclusive environment.
Jeff: There are so many sessions that are providing valuable content this year. Some of the ones I’m looking forward to attending are:
- WORKSHOP: Aligning Sales & Marketing with Gigster, Women in Revenue with Jen Pockell Dimas and Lauren Goldstein
- Challenges and Solutions of Evolving a Product-Centric Company into a Customer-Centric Company with LogDNA with Chris Nguyen
- The Non-Obvious Leading Indicators that High-growth Revenue Teams Obsess Over with Chorus with Roy Raanani and Javier Molina
- The What, When and Why of Product Marketing with Twilio with Vanessa Thompson
Interested in meeting up with Seismic at SaaStr Annual? Shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you in San Jose!