SiriusDecisions Summit Day 2 Takeaways: Sales and Marketing Alignment

sales and marketing alignmentThe first day of SiriusDecisions Summit 2017 was all about account based marketing tactics. The processes and specific strategies that lead to success in account based marketing were all on display. It was a day full of practical questions and solutions that people can take home with them from the Summit.

The second day was concerned with a more existential question: how do we improve sales and marketing alignment?

The morning kicked off with a keynote presentation by Kerry Cunningham and Terry Flaherty, Senior Research Directors at SiriusDecisions. They were on hand to unveil the new SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall. Over the years the Demand Waterfall has evolved to meet the needs of the rapidly growing sales and marketing fields.

The new Demand Waterfall takes a comprehensive approach to how it views sales and marketing activities. Each stage is one that both teams will participate in, and as Flaherty put it, the Demand Waterfall “gives us a holistic view of all the touches we have.” The stages were also accompanied by a short phrase that acts as a summary such as “We Target”, “We Connect”, or, “We Evaluate.” Using “we” implies that there are no barriers between sales and marketing – every activity matters to each department.


See the 8 challenges of Sales and Marketing alignment and how you can overcome them >>


SAP’s Sales and Marketing Alignment

Following the Demand Waterfall release, SAP took the stage to accept their award for General Sales and Marketing Alignment ROI (Return on Integration). Mike Pregler, VP Global Demand Management and Andrea Soltysiak, Global Head of Demand Management provided examples of how they were able to transform their sales and marketing teams into one cohesive unit. Soltysiak explained the need for sales and marketing alignment by way of Marketing’s role of moving buyers along their journey. “Gone are the days of Marketing handing off to Sales,” she said. “Marketing supports the whole way now.”

To facilitate the alignment of two global teams Soltysiak and Pregler took an academic approach to their efforts. They researched, tested, and implemented solutions that were designed to make their teams as successful as possible. Two of their processes they mentioned stood out in particular.

1) Strategic alignment of priorities: The sales and marketing teams held meetings to ensure everyone was on the same page for prioritizing activities. These discussions were hugely helpful for SAP’s team because they revealed everyone’s motivations and beliefs. Despite clear differences amongst the groups, a clear process was determined because everyone was able to discuss and reach a consensus. This process isn’t just unique to SAP. Every organization hoping to achieve Sales and Marketing alignment should hold meetings that clearly define a set of priorities for both teams.

2) Joint performance KPIs and metrics: The next natural step after aligning priorities was to intertwine the metrics of both teams. Measuring sales and marketing by the same set of analytics made both departments care about the other’s performance. Instead of each team vying to prove their own success, they worked together to ensure everyone looked good in the end. Joint metrics is a great method for improving sales and marketing alignment and facilitating teamwork.

Focus on Who You’re Selling to

During an executive conversation about sales and marketing alignment, John Neeson a cofounder of SiriusDecisions asked the assembled panel “How do you see your marketing organization changing?” One of the members of the panel discussed their efforts to embrace more analytics and data science; another mentioned his organization’s struggle to keep his marketing team lean but still effective.

Cameron Van Orman, SVP Product Marketing at CA Technologies gave an answer that perfectly summed up how Marketing can refocus their efforts in a way that naturally aligns them more closely with Sales. In an effort to improve his team’s content creation he performed a content audit and discovered that 64% of the materials were essentially useless and needed to be thrown out. That content didn’t speak to their buyers’ needs; it was like “taking a selfie, it was only focused on ourselves.”

To improve the content creation engine his team set out to discover the pains, functional needs, and organizational needs of their buyers. When they started thinking in this way they quickly discovered areas they had never touched on in their content. They even discovered a whole new persona by having a casual conversation at a conference.

Once they began creating content with these new objectives in mind, the results immediately followed. Conversion rates on gated content increased 400% and the MQLs that Marketing provided Sales were better qualified and more likely to purchase. This naturally improved the relationship between the two departments and even provided Sales with more insights into their buyers.

Sales and marketing alignment should be a joint effort, but Van Orman demonstrated that one department can take it upon themselves to improve their processes and in turn improve alignment.

Using Sales Enablement to Bridge the Gap

Daniel Gaugler, CMO at PFL, opened with some harsh words for his assembled audience, “Nobody likes you.” He wasn’t being rude, he was simply explaining the general perception of marketers and sellers. “Nobody likes to be pitched to or sold to,” he continued as way of explanation.

Because of the way Marketing and Sales have traditionally operated, people have become wary of those interactions. To overcome this natural response Gaugler wanted to ensure the way his team reached out was effective and engaging. “Personalization at scale was the goal,” he said. “We want every touch to feel like it was created just for that buyer.” To do that he realized he needed to connect two systems that contain a wealth of knowledge but don’t communicate with one another.

Marketing has a treasure trove of data within a MAP about the kinds of content and materials buyers engage with on their journey. Sales has a CRM that contains all the information they know about the opportunities they are working. But those systems don’t speak to each other. With just a MAP and CRM in place, Marketing hands leads off to Sales like a relay race, unable to help finish the deal.

Gaugler bridged the gap between the two systems – and two teams – with Seismic. A sales enablement platform enables Marketing to provide insights about a buyer throughout the entire journey. By leveraging the information that has already been collected, content can be personalized by Sales for better engagement and Sales can more effectively measure how buyers interact with the content they receive. In addition Marketing can have insights into how Sales actually utilized content throughout the sales cycle and what pieces of content performed best.

Sales enablement bridged the gap between Marketing and Sales and unlocked the ability to personalize content throughout the entire buyer’s journey. In the end Gaugler had three things he wanted to achieve with his marketing engagements: “add value at every stage, make it rewarding for the buyer, and be human.” Utilizing a sales enablement platform allowed him to check off all three of those boxes.

8 Challenges of Sales and Marketing Alignment