The sales and marketing power couple: our conversation with LinkedIn

Posted November 27, 2017

Gone are the days where sales and marketing merely coexist or, even worse, hate each other with the fervent animosity of a Red Sox fan at Yankee Stadium. Teams are starting to realize that if you want to crush your sales goals, you've got to drive alignment between sales and marketing. And no, I'm not just saying this because I'm a marketer writing on a sales blog; when these 2 teams are aligned, companies can achieve 38% higher sales win rates.

I recently had a conversation with Sales Director Steve Ross and a few other sales and marketing dream teams (from Financial Force, Scout RFP, and LinkedIn) during a LinkedIn Sales and Marketing summit. Here are our thoughts on some of the most pressing issues facing modern sales and marketing teams (you can watch the whole session in the video above).

Which Tools to Use

The story of our sales engagement platform began with our founders using Outreach to sell Outreach, so it's no surprise that we believe strongly in the power of outbound sales. While this process got us from $0-$10 million in about two years, the addition of a robust marketing team changed the game. As the marketing team started to build up, we realized we need to add some new tools to the pot, as well.

The first tool was the mindset - while sales and marketing are typically seen as two teams, conjoining them is essential. It's not about whether marketing wins or sales wins, it's about winning as a company. This requires having a marketing team in place to ensure messaging stays on track, and that the two teams work together to create a real and achievable goal.

Another thing we did to drive the process forward was create an open-door policy. Slack is a great tool for that and can help conjoin the sales and marketing teams, rather than dividing them into silos or territories. Having open, informal communication creates alignment and ownership between teams and keeps everyone in the loop with what the other team is working on.

Getting Rid of Funnel Vision

Sales leaders know that it's critical for both teams to care about meetings and revenue. Losing sight of the end game causes your results to suffer and prevents the company from moving forward. Marketers can align with sales teams' goals by looking at wins rather than funnels. This involves tracking the results of your sales team, and tracking how they relate to your marketing team's efforts.

Modern teams can't grow without a deep cooperation between sales and marketing. When you focus on building this relationship, revenue grows accordingly. If you want your company to fail, ensure that marketing doesn't ever talk to a sales rep.

Because sales reps are on the front line, they often feel like marketing is pushing something at them. To counteract this, marketing needs to talk to sales reps about what they're trying to achieve, and how the team can work together to align those things in a way that makes sense. When our team produces new demand gen materials, our marketing development reps (MDRs) are pre-briefed on the content and can provide feedback on the sequences we create to reply to leads from the content. This helps us work towards the same goal and prevents the animosity and frustration that results from poor leads or miscommunication.

If you feel like there's a fence between sales and marketing, it's essential to take it down. Both teams need to ask "how can we make each other more effective?"

Mastering Your Sequences

Most teams run both inbound and outbound campaigns. We create sequences for both types of leads - not just for our outbound outreach. To maintain traction with hot inbound leads, we sequence them based on the type of lead that's coming in and the priority of the contact. We ensure our MDRs are using this data to prioritize the way they're spending their time -- the richest leads will have higher touch activities (like phone calls) and more of them to maximize our team's ROI. Lower priority sequences for cooler leads are more automated and take a "light touch," which might include a phone call and some social media touches.

Testing Assumptions

At Outreach, we're constantly testing and improving messaging. We have two years' worth of data to see what works and what doesn't, and we use that to drive our content and the sequences we give to our reps to follow up on those leads. The best way marketing can support inbound sales reps is by constantly testing new subject lines and content, and seeing what works best so reps always have on point messaging.

Not only does alignment between sales and marketing teams make coming to work more pleasant, but it can make both teams more effective. Sales and marketing can lean on each other to constantly refine messaging, test their sales sequences, and revel in each other's success when they work towards -- and achieve -- the same goals. While uniting sales and marketing is a puzzle unique to each organization, it's an essential process, and companies that do it will thrive in short order.


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