Sales and marketing teams historically have been at odds with each other. At best, they’ve coexisted; at worst, the toxicity that exists between the two doesn’t just disrupt the sales cycle, the cycle veers straight off the road and into the ditch.
We’ve seen attempts in recent years toward getting the two on the same page: inbound sales, sales enablement and now, a synthesis of the two: revenue operations, or RevOps. While RevOps tends to evoke a more tech-based approach to business, there are compelling reasons to think of RevOps as a holistic blend of technological efficiency empowered by human approaches.
If you’re a parent of multiple children, you know how it goes: brothers and sisters will find a way to get under each other's skin. You keep telling yourself that all this tension and shouting and slamming doors eventually will pay off with resilient, affectionate relationships later.
That may be true, but that doesn’t provide help and relief right now. Instead, as any parent knows, we have to step in and separate them and referee things until the situation calms down. (And even then, there’s no guarantee of that happening!) Sales and marketing too often act this way, except they don’t have the excuse of being young and immature.
RevOps can help facilitate that relationship toward not just health and maturity, but as rock solid support, undergirding mutual success and meeting company objectives.
Any successful RevOps implementation begins not with a fresh tech stack, but in developing a shared vision of what effective marketing and sales should look like. Who is responsible for what? What are our measures for success? What is our buyer’s journey? What is our tactical plan with nurturing leads and prospects? What does service after the sale look like? What happens when a potential client is hesitant or says no?
RevOps lives and dies with clear communication and buy-in from all parties, leadership and stakeholders included.
When we talk about RevOps, we’re talking about a comprehensive approach to sales and marketing, which means that the two aren’t just siblings, but twins. Marketing needs sales to help inform and fine-tune personas, value propositions and messaging; while sales needs marketing’s perspective, voice and positioning on ideal customers, sales templates, ‘battle cards’ and emails, while also drawing from a catalog of assets that can facilitate successful sales relationships (relevant blog posts, white papers, infographics, and so on). Sales can then provide insight into what works and what doesn’t, which enables refinement to sales materials…
Marketing enables sales, which in turn enables more effective marketing. At its best, it’s a self-correcting perpetual motion machine.
At its worst? Well, the trillion-dollar statistic has been bandied about for years, and that seems like an exaggeration. What isn’t out of proportion is the fact that misalignment doesn’t merely run the risk of lost deals, sales or revenue: it can torpedo a business entirely. Consider it sales and marketing disablement.
So, how do we get the kids to play well together? Here’s a quick and dirty list of items to attack to get your RevOps into gear.
Traditional sales funnel models keep sales and marketing siloed. If both departments are responsible for revenue, and not just for lead generation or closing, they will work more closely together. Take the time to clearly outline who is tasked with what at every stage of the customer lifecycle. This advance work lends itself to a smooth and effective hand-off process.
What goals and expectations do both teams have, and what metrics will be measured to determine if standards are being met? When marketing and sales are clear on each other’s objectives, they’ll gain a better understanding of the thought process behind the actions, and are better able to help each other at every stage. Don’t just agree to them – put them in writing, and utilize reporting tools to ensure those goals and metrics have visibility throughout the organization. The idea here is not to determine winners or losers; reporting ought not be treated like a pass-fail course in college. At the same time, this also does not mean no one is accountable for their actions. Goals are only met through a commitment to improvement toward said goals. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
A combination of customer and prospect feedback and sales team input will form the basis for whom your marketing should be targeting, what messaging and offers will best resonate with them, and what channels are best for reaching them through your content strategy. Implement these into your CRM and digital marketing platform (ideally, they will be one and the same!)
In the past, many marketing teams have been expected to define buyer personas in a vacuum, divorced from sales team input. This fundamental imbalance puts marketing in a no-win situation and leaves salespeople off the hook for underperformance. This is how dysfunction gets a grip on organizations of all stripes.
In addition to helping to define the ideal customer or personas, a sales team should also provide feedback on existing lead generation strategies. Marketing might have a plan, but it might not complement what sales is trying to achieve. Sales wants to close deals, but may not understand how prospects were attracted in the first place. Collaborating on a unified strategy will improve communication for all involved. Visualize the customer lifecycle in a chart, identify the methods used to attract contacts and the process of growing from contact to close, including criteria for progression, contingencies for those who age midway through and any supplemental methods to encourage forward progress. Having that in front of everyone encourages buy-in and mutuality in the process. It also just so happens to be the foundation for leveraging digital tools and automation through a platform like HubSpot.
As part of the process above, sales and marketing teams should work together to identify all ways that leads engage with your brand, services and products. From there, a lead scoring framework should be laid out: assign negative and positive weights or point values to each of those activities and identify ways that automation can help move contacts ahead and alert sales and business development reps of each new opportunity. With that data and proposed configuration, marketing helps sales lock in on those leads primed for deals, as well as those that may need a little more time.
The sales and marketing teams should meet on a regular basis to review results and identify both teams’ successes and areas for improvement. Are marketing’s efforts bringing in quality leads? Does the lead scoring matrix accurately reflect sales readiness of qualified leads? Are there any sales tools or collateral that would help the sales team close more deals? Is the sales team hearing any frequently asked questions, pain points or objections that could be addressed with new marketing content? Are there ways that either sales or marketing could help shorten the buy cycle for their customers? Again, it’s crucial to point out that this is not the time for flipping bats or spiking footballs. Celebrate successes and work together to improve, after all, a deficiency in the customer lifecycle affects everyone. Everyone should be able to rally together to get things right.
If you are holding sales and marketing teams to arbitrary quotas, you are creating a culture of fear. At best, your teams resent you and will likely move on from the company as soon as possible; at worst, your employees become desperate and resort to unethical behaviors that could tarnish your brand in ways that go far beyond the books.
Good sales and marketing teams start with good people. Your teams need to exist in an environment where they are allowed to be their best and perform without fear of micro-management, meddling or moving goalposts. They should feel free to open up with each other, push each other to be better and share new ideas. Your employees will get more fulfillment from their job and their happiness will shine through. That translates to happier customers, more creative sales and marketing strategies and, ultimately, optimal margins. Character counts, literally!
Continue to evaluate the data. What strategies are working? How can you amplify those winning strategies or use those strategies as a framework for another sector that needs growth? Which strategies aren’t working and why?
Keep a record of what’s been done and in what context to help establish a playbook that will make developing future strategies more efficient and effective. This has two angles: One, it helps to know that some ideas have been tried before and haven’t been effective. And two, some ideas may not have been executed correctly and can be revisited and refined. Other ideas may be the right tactics but at the wrong time, or your company may not have the resources to utilize them quite yet.
Sales and marketing are sides of the same coin—they just don’t know it yet. Once they become aware of how each contributes to the other, they won’t just be siblings, they’ll become best friends.
At Kuno, our veteran strategists have experience in both establishing and optimizing our clients’ marketing and sales strategies, as well as leveraging HubSpot to create a robust RevOps experience your sales and marketing teams can live – and thrive – with. Our content and design professionals support these RevOps strategies through developing attractive, value-rich, inbound-minded deliverables for organizations across industries, and have for over 20 years. Schedule a consultation to see how we can supercharge your sales cycle through organizational alignment, sales enablement, tech and automation implementation and an overarching approach that delivers real results through RevOps.