You know when a company jumps on the scene and everyone is like: “Salesloft, I have heard that name”. 4-5 months ago that was me because they were cranking content and getting out there in the social sphere – I didn’t know them yet, but I saw them. Now, I know them. They are helping sales people gather web intelligence on their buyers – one of the critical elements to selling today. Kyle Porter is the CEO and is this week’s madlibs participant. I am sure you have seen him, but if you haven’t, watch him – he is an up-and-comer on the sales internet.
When we were starting Tippit (soon to be Focus), a gentleman named John Luongo was an observer in our board meetings. He had a storied career at Oracle and then was the CEO of Vantive. He had lots of advice for us, but one thing in particular that he said has always stuck with me: “You really need to pick an enemy.” I actually mentioned this concept in an earlier post on the marketing automation market.
Here is what John meant: Management should declare an enemy and rally everyone in the company around beating this enemy. Sales will want to outsell the enemy, product will want to produce a better product than the enemy and so forth. John described how, in his early days, Oracle obsessed about beating Informix (which Oracle did handily). Sure, you could simply say, “Pick a goal to strive for” — but that doesn’t play on primal, competitive instincts. I love this concept, and I see at least five distinctive benefits:
1. It helps everyone focus: Having a rallying cry gives teams a reason to come to work each day. It also can help you make decisions on where to put your energy.
2. It motivates: See above.
3. It serves as a scoreboard: Scoreboards work.
4. It fosters our natural mean streak: That’s always a good thing.
5. It can provide a ‘measuring stick’: Take a reference point like a competitor’s product and say, “We will beat their functionality (or even their website).”
No, obsession is not healthy, but having an enemy makes so much sense.
There are some great examples of this, but by far my favorite is University of Colorado football. In 1982, Bill McCartney took over as head coach of the Colorado football program; at the time, the team couldn’t win a thing (in 1980 the team was 1-10; in 1981 the team was 3-8 — you get the picture). One of the first things McCartney did was name Nebraska as Colorado’s primary rival. Nebraska was a perennial powerhouse, had defeated Colorado 14 times in a row, and could care less about Colorado. Honestly, anybody following college football at the time would tell you McCartney was crazy. That’s why this is the perfect example: McCartney made the best team he could their measuring stick for success. His “enemy” was perfect for the team to aspire to, and it set a bold, “hairy” goal for his program to achieve.
Here is what happened next:
- Four years later (1986) Colorado beat No. 3-ranked Nebraska 20-10.
- In 1990, Colorado won the national championship.
- In all, McCartney created a national powerhouse of a program.
You might ask me if this is the first article in the “business-aholic” stage of my life. Maybe, but the decision to declare an enemy is something even department and organizational heads can do. In other words, this concept is still very “Funnelholic.” As a marketer, I love to have an enemy. If I had to decide on my marketing plan, I would use my enemy as my measuring stick. I would want to create a better website, blog, social media presence, content, advertise where they are and so forth. All of this makes my program better and, for me at least, makes it more fun — I get to keep score and compete.
Choose an enemy, you’ll be better for it.
Last week, I went to Silverpop’s B2B Marketing University. As I have blogged before, I don’t write about conferences unless I can write about something interesting. This event was awesome — the content was great (not your typical BS), 180 people were in the audience, and the questions were engaging. I was having writer’s block going into the event, and I left with three posts (coming soon). Props to Silverpop.
OK, so during Malcolm Friedberg’s presentation, someone in the audience asked for advice on how to handles sales. (The actual question is not important, but it had something to do with convincing sales to let marketing nurture instead of passing the leads to them directly.) Anyway, I was sitting there thinking that, here we have Malcolm on stage talking about marketing automation processes, etc., and one of the questions that comes up is the age-old issue of the sales-marketing divide. Boom. Funnelholic blog post.
One thing I have noticed as Marketing 2.0 continues to gather steam is that all of us in the marketing blogosphere can act like dealing with sales is easy because we are all in marketing-dominated companies. But in the real world, sales is the powerful and dangerous entity. That’s not an insult. That’s reality. Sales is on the front line — they are type-A, aggressive, unforgiving folks. It’s rare to find a place where marketing is in the catbird’s seat.
If you don’t have sales on board, however, you will have NO ROI. So act, don’t complain.
So, here is how you know you have a problem with sales:
- Sales tells you that you suck — Do I need to explain?
- Sales ignores you completely — Sales is a “you are either helping me or in the way” type of crew, so if they view you as being in the way (fairly or not), prepare to be ignored.
- Sales tells everyone you suck, but not to your face — It’s amazing how many sales leaders are passive-aggressive, but I see it all the time. Which leads to …
- Sales is really nice to you: Beware of smiling sales management.
Here is how you tell you have a good relationship:
- When leads don’t convert, they look into what they can do about it. Good.
- They ask for more of your leads. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!
Here are 5 things you should do to foster a healthy sales-marketing relationship:
1. Have a meeting: I know this sounds obvious, but here is my point. If things are bad, then have a meeting. If you are starting the relationship, have a meeting. In the meeting, tell sales the following:
- MARKETING will create an infrastructure (nurturing, phone) to pass qualified leads to the sales team. (Again, stop passing raw inquiries to sales.)
- MARKETING AND SALES will AGREE on a unified lead definition to live by.
- SALES will sign an SLA that, if MARKETING hits the unified lead definition, they will follow up an agreed amount of times.
- MARKETING AND SALES will meet at least biweekly to optimize the program.
- MARKETING AND SALES WILL get along.
2. Create a unified lead definition: I give Brian Carroll the credit for this term, but gurus like Stu Silverman have been making the lead definition the key to sales and marketing success for years. Here is the essence: sit down with sales and AGREE on the definition of a lead — what marketing passes to the sales team. Look, sales will forget — particularly when one an account executives complains — but you can always refer back to it. When sales comes back and says, “none of your leads are closing,” offer to revisit the lead definition. Keep in mind that the lead definition dictates volume, and when you discuss definitions, you have to make sure sales understands the volume implications.
3. The sales SLA: When you agree to a unified lead definition, you also need to agree on sales’ activities after you pass them a qualified lead. Do this. It’s only fair.
4. Have weekly sync-up meetings: You can do this biweekly, if necessary. Just don’t let it slip. Don’t just talk about the numbers, talk anecdotally. Remind everyone that the meeting must be honest but not accusatory, because the wheels can fall off these meetings very easily if you are not careful. On the other hand, they can’t be a meaningless rubber stamp either. Optimization is a two-way street.
5. Just try to get along: I hate to say it, but if you are the marketer, you have to lead this charge. Sales is always moving, so have a plan and instigate peace. Both sides will win as a result.
I’m a day or two late on my write-up of the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, but that’s the story of my life. As an aside, I am not the kind of blogger who has to blog on every event I go to. I only write when something moves me. Period.
Here is my take on the Sales 2.0 Conference:
1. The Sales 2.0 conference is BLOWING UP: I think they will need to change venues to Pac Bell Park next year. This year was sold-out, and the place was wall-to-wall people. Congrats to Gerhard Gschwandtner (CEO and organizer of the show) and his crew. Why is it growing? Gerhard cares about/believes in what he is selling and you can tell. That manifests itself in the content and organization of the conference. Also, the attendees care. This isn’t a trip to Vegas for CES. People are there to learn how they can get better.
2. Sales 2.0 concepts and products are the steroids and painkillers that sales and marketing need to elevate their game: I couldn’t get this out of my head when I was at the conference. Sales 2.0 tools are legal steroids. Look, I don’t need to tell you that performance-enhancing drugs have been putting up big numbers for the last 10 years in sports. Unfortunately for athletes, they are illegal.What Sales 2.0 vendors are peddling are legal and without long-term medical issues, and they enhance performance. Perfect.
Sales 2.0 painkillers are tools that remove some of the laborious parts of the sales process such as compensation reporting, reporting visibility, etc. Like real painkillers, the they’re addictive. But unlike painkillers they won’t kill you. Instead they make life easier.
3. People believe: You know, it’s also cool to be around believers vs. skeptics. Conversations were around “what are you using?” It’s exciting to see sales and marketing managers getting together trying to make their teams better.
4. Revolution is upon us: I have mentioned this before, but I remember talking to venture capitalist Doug Pepper (@dougpepper), who said, “Marketing is the last place in the enterprise that hasn’t been automated and made more efficient.” I think this is true for sales too … and it’s awesome.
Think I had fun? I did …
Economy be damned, I’m in the Holiday spirit. I thought I would share my Christmas list for b2b sales and marketing around the world.
Here is what I hope b2b marketers find in their stocking:
- A lead-nurturing system and process: The marketer’s Nintendo. Next year you gotta nurture, you’re SOL next year if you don’t . You can have Santa stuff an Eloqua or Marketo in your stocking or you can outsource it. Either way, gotta do it. If you already have it and are using it, Christmas came early.
- An aggressive marketing plan: Santa doesn’t give you this, the CMO and Exec Board does. Hiding will lead to failure. Yes, you have to market smarter next year, but that doesn’t mean not market at all. Pipeline doesn’t come out of the blue, it comes from you. I have seen two types of organizations: 1) those that want to cut budget and hide (you’re dead) and 2) those who know that next year more than ever, the organization needs them to serve pipeline for Christmas dinner. Note to self: Be number 2.
- Budget: See above, but Santa needs to give you some dollar bills.
- Your job: Not to be flip on something so negative, but let’s call it like it is. I don’t want to lose your job, lord knows lots of people are.
- Happy sales guys: Envision the sales team singing Christmas carols at your front door. Next year will be hell for sales team, so here’s to hoping you can help enough so they’ll recommend you for the “nice” list over the “naughty.”
- Pipeline: Well, isn’t that why we are all here?
- Closed Business: See above – we gotta keep the lights on folks.
And a partridge in a pear tree.
Tip of the day for marketers: Do “ride-alongs” with sales as you consider your marketing plans. I have spent the last two weeks heavily involved with our sales team, and I learned a ton. Getting feedback is helpful but watching the every-day pain a salesperson endures is eye-opening. If you really want to add value as a marketer, you have to identify the “have-to-have’s” for your customers, the sales team. The best way to do it, is to see for yourself.
Follow the entire from lead to close. Here is what I recommend:
- Watch and listen to lead conversion conversations and day-to-day lead follow-up “agony”: If you have a lead development team, sit with the good ones and watch them go through their paces. Listen to conversations, watch how they figure out who to call, watch what their screen looks like when they do call, watch them handle objections, listen to prospect reactions, and so on. It’s humbling – and so helpful it hurts. If you don’t have lead dev, sit with one of your sales reps as he or she goes through their day.
- Sit in on a couple value prop presentations: If you can watch this face-to-face, you can see the prospects’ reactions. Go again with only your best reps and see how they’ve probably altered your message and preso based on what they feel works or doesn’t. You can see what’s really effective on the street and what they care about.
- Sit in on executive meetings: The decision maker/executive messaging is so critical to sales getting the deal done. Watching and listening to this interaction is beyond instructive. Even the questions they ask alone will tell you a lot about how to message and what sales tools are essential to success.
- Talk to some customers: You can use a market research firm for this to get bigger feedback numbers, but you should at minimum talk to a couple yourself. Find out why they bought, what their impressions were of competitors, and so on.
- Talk to some sales you lost: Sales guys never give these up, but this could possibly be the most helpful of all. Why did we lose the deal? Followed by, what can I do in marketing to make it better.
The ride-along will help you do your job better and, as a result, help you provide real value to the company’s bottom line. So eat some nails with the sales team and your marketing plans will get applause not boos.
One of the young guys I work with asked me the other day how I come up with blog posts. The truth is, they typically come to me throughout the day regardless of whether I am working with clients or at home watching television. An idea will pop in my head, and I realize I can blog about that. Conversely, when these epiphanies don’t pop in my head, I am completely screwed.
Here is what you need to know, I am wholly focused on helping marketers improve what they do in general and put the strategies and processes in place to make it through the economic storm that is in full swing. The other thing you need to know, is that I want to be irreverent and fun in the process. So, I was sitting there watching “Good Fellas” this weekend (for the 20th time), and a couple lines stuck out to me as bloggable. I decided that I should take a whack at some Martin Scorcese lines in my next blog post. Now, here we are.
1. “Every man … every man has to go through hell to reach paradise.” — Max Cady (“Cape Fear”)
I had to start with this one. Who knew that Scorcese’s psychopathic killer in the horror movie “Cape Fear” would make the list. The quote just resonated with the times that we face today.
I wonder if there is a silver lining to the world’s current chaos. Nothing forces people to improve than adversity. In good times, efficiencies are just good ideas. In bad times, they become necessities. For one, this applies to anyone in marketing. All the things on your list must get done: Marketing automation, ROI tracking, quality control, effectiveness, and payback in all your marketing activities. Now more than ever, marketing departments need to eliminate waste and become efficient, optimized machines. Doug Pepper from Interwest told me two years ago: “We believe marketing is the last place in the organization where there is opportunity to optimize their processes,” He’s right, and now the pain is more acute than ever.
Your marketing should reflect this ideology as well. No matter what you are selling, you and your organization are trying to help companies and people make it out of the downturn. Don’t talk. Make your processes better to win when every one else is losing. Those fun little features aren’t interesting anymore. We need companies to understand in times of extreme pain, it’s time to change, and my solution is the way you get there.
2. “I got some bad ideas in my head.” — Travis Bickle (“Taxi Driver”)
Direct mail with little return, “sexy” campaigns built with your ad agency that look good but bring no return, physical trade shows, tchotchkes… These are bad ideas. These are antiquated marketing vehicles that marketers did so that they could show their boss something tangible, but now the boss wants tangible results. Cut the “cute.”
By the way, this does not mean you shouldn’t try no ideas, but just keep in mind, that these should be focused on results not the overall sizzle factor.
3. “In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.” — Ace Rothstein (“Casino”)
Great quote, something I wish I would remember at 2 in the morning in Vegas when I am even or up. This quote conjures up one thing: lead nurturing. I am a broken record on this one, but I can’t get over the idea that 80 percent of leads deemed unqualified end up buying anyway. In 2009, we have to stay in our prospect’s faces. Budgets will open up and when they do, you need to be there. And you need to make sure you are fighting for the few budgets that are left. The case for lead nurturing is strong. Take it from Ace: you’re job is to keep them in the casino.
4. “You put my money to sleep, I’ll put you to sleep.” – Nicky Santoro (“Casino”)
Marketing in 2009 is going to about real cost-savings and real return on investment. No one will buy anything next year because they want it, it will be because they need it. The way you achieve that is developing real stories with real numbers about how your solution will either save them money or make them money. And here is the challenge: they don’t believe you anymore. Terms like ROI, cost-effective, and so on that have been part of your marketing and value prop for years are old news. The trick is to market real stories of real cost savings with real people. Studies show that more and more buyers turn to their peers when deciding on a solution. What this means is get real customer stories with numbers they can understand and show them how spending money with you makes them money in the long run. Simply put: you lose if you don’t.
5. “ … the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week no matter what. Business bad? F**k you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? F**k you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? F**k you, pay me.” — Henry Hill (“Good Fellas”)
Sorry for the profanity, but here is the message to marketers: this is how sales guys look at the world. The way sales is measured is so much easier to quantify than almost anywhere else in the organization, “F**k you, pay me.” Welcome to their world people. ROI is the name of the game here. If you have read my stuff before, you know that I believe that marketing ROI should be judged by opportunities and pipeline created. That being said, you have to actually achieve these goals. Do not spend money on anything that does not pay out … and remember, no excuse will work, management wants to get paid.
6. “Lennon said, ‘I’m an artist. You give me a f**king tuba, I’ll get you something out of it.’ The point I’m making with John Lennon is – a man could look at anything, and make something out of it. For instance, I look at you and I think ‘what could I use you for?’ ” – Frank Costello (“The Departed”)
I will follow this up with Donald Rumsfield: “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you want.” As an ex-consultant and third-party “listener” to what’s going in marketing, all I hear are complaints about the constraints on their job: “product sucks, sales sucks, I have a small budget, I need resources to get it done.” None of this will help you in 2009. You have what you have and you need make the most out of it. You are marketers, you should be able to take the product and “make something out of it.” Your job is to to sell ice to Eskimos. That’s right, we used to say that only about sales, but that falls on the marketer too.
So there you have it, Martin Scorcese’s marketing tips. And I had fun writing it …
“Sales is from Mars and Marketing is from Venus” has been used on a number of occasions when describing the gap between sales and marketing. The marketing automation, lead generation, and lead nurturing industry and their gurus have spent the past two years talking about “sales alignment” and how we can bridge the gap between the two sides. Obviously I am one of those people. I have sat in both seats and have felt both side’s pain. And I do believe marketers have made big strides. There is so much information (including from me) on how we can fix this divide that I truly believe we are in a better place than we have been in the past.
On the other hand, there is one thing you can’t solve: the fact that you can align all you want, but sales is still born and raised on Venus, and marketing is born and raised on Mars. You are different people and your relationship will always have its ups and downs (and in some cases, all downs). So I decided to have some fun and help everyone understand each other’s differences:
*My buddy at HP was telling me how a sales optimization consultancy had done a study where the best sales guys got Cs in school. The rationale being that school is NOT good training for sales guys whose key skill is convincing people verbally and school is better-suited for reading and writing. Technically a C average is a 2.0, but I couldn’t do that.
The economy is the pits, and things are looking to get worse. I can’t get up on my pedestal and convince everyone why, but I can say that when every investment bank on the street falls on its face, we have a problem. And these aren’t small players, by the way. These are institutions.
We can’t play dumb, we have to be proactive. What’s incredible is the forthcoming list is not much different than my previous posts. They’re just more vital, and if you haven’t considered these already, get with the program now.
The Funnelholic list:
- Retarget: I am already hearing around The Valley that companies are making big changes in “who” they are trying to sell to. Companies whose revenues were tied to selling things to Wall Street and financial powerhouses have new targets in their sights. Evaluate your market, because things are about to change.
- Remessage from “nice to have” to “have to have”: In an earlier post, I commented on the difference between selling steroids (the nice-to-haves) vs. pain-killers (the have-to-haves). During the recession, you have to solve problems. Forget about trotting out exciting new technologies. The term “ROI” is losing its allure as a selling point. You have to dig deeper. Figure out what the real pain points are and be the pain killer.
- Redefine: The qualified-lead definition will have to change. I remember in ’01, the sales guys were still saying: “I only want budgeted projects with decision makers,” yet there were no budgets and decision makers were all getting fired. Recessions mean it’s time to evangelize and SELL. The first reaction from buyers is to tighten those purse strings. You need the magic touch to open them. Selling becomes harder. One of our clients who sells to SMBs is telling me what used to take 1 guy and 3 phone calls to make a deal, is now taking 3 guys and 10 to 15 phone calls to sell. Open up the lead definition to let more people in.
I only have one thing to say: “It’s on.” Your life is about to become exponentially harder. Retrench so you’re ready for the Brave New World.