Over the last three years, the United States economy has shifted drastically. The economic landscape of today differs greatly from what it was even a few short months ago. From a venture capital perspective, there’s now a premium on driving efficient growth rather than growth at any cost.
“Sales and marketing alignment is a terrific place to figure out and improve efficient growth.”
How do you go about driving efficient growth?
Jon Perera, CMO at Highspot, says the place to start is sales and marketing alignment—a system that aligns strategy, communication, execution, and goals between the two departments. Throughout his many years working and learning at companies like Adobe and Highspot, Perera has built a five-step roadmap to help others achieve this alignment.
Create dynamic alignment on goals
From the get-go, ensure alignment between sales and marketing teams on goals and anticipated outcomes. Goal alignment begins with getting the board, the CEO, the head of sales, and the head of marketing in the same room.
Conduct a seller confidence survey to ensure your representatives on the ground are confident in what they’re selling and how they’re selling it. This survey informs you about sellers’ overall confidence along with knowledge of pricing, expertise in value selling, discovery, and price negotiation comfortability. Together, the head of sales and the head of marketing should create a baseline understanding of where the reps are. Once this information is established, it can be used to build seller skills and drive up seller confidence, which directly correlates to quota attainment.
It’s one thing to agree on how to grow a company at the beginning of the fiscal year. It’s quite another in the middle of a quarter when things suddenly change. Dynamic alignment means having a system and a framework in place that allows for touching base and checking in on priorities throughout all levels of the company when things are in flux rather than when they’re stable.
Build trust between leaders
A vital part of sales and marketing alignment demands a foundation of trust between the leaders of both departments. It might sound simple, but building genuine trust takes proactive effort from both parties.
“The relationship you see at the top sets the model for the whole company.”
Fostering a partnership between two people who work in departments that speak very different languages makes way for active communication, constructive criticism, and feedback. Beyond that, it models a specific way of working together for the entire company to adopt.
Deliver one narrative
Unsurprisingly, a CEO’s day-to-day will look much different from a front-facing account executive’s. Developing a company narrative that rings true from top to down ensures the message and impact of the company aren’t diluted when it reaches the consumer.
“The narrative must be coauthored by the CEO and the people on the front line.”
Perera’s advice on how to begin defining a company’s singular narrative is to host a messaging workshop for the entire company. Highspot’s two-day messaging workshop brought together the CEO, head of sales, head of marketing, key lieutenants, and account executives to reimagine the company narrative.
The result was a cohesive narrative that integrated the experiences of the CEO and customer-facing account executives.
Scale winning behaviors
It’s estimated that only 35% of sales reps at US-based B2B tech firms are achieving their quotas. Because of this statistic, it’s easy for companies to rely on the top 10-30% of sellers for growth—a massively inefficient use of resources.
To avoid this, it’s important to identify the winning behaviors of the top-tier sellers and apply them to the remaining 70% of the sales force. Expanding quota attainment by even one, two, or three points per salesperson will drive more consistent growth.
“The opportunity to scale growth is understanding the behaviors of the top of your sales force.”
Perera suggests hiring an independent third party to do win-loss calls to dig deep into the dynamics of a deal, whether it was a win or a loss.
Third parties can dive deeply into the details of these deals, gathering information to present to the heads of marketing and sales so they can analyze the decisions that went into these deals–where they made good calls and bad calls. A deep understanding of the behaviors that are working well makes it possible to continue applying them to future deals.
Perera is not alone in his championing of sales and marketing alignment. Market research company Forrester’s data tells us that companies that have successfully aligned sales and marketing teams see 24% faster growth rates and 27% faster profit growth than those that don’t.
Let’s take a final look at Perera’s steps to achieve sales and marketing alignment.
- Align marketing and sales goals.
- Create a system of dynamic alignment.
- Build trust between the head of marketing and the head of sales.
- Deliver one company narrative.
- Scale winning behavior across the sales force.
Establishing a positive company-wide mindset around collaborative change is key to achieving consistent growth. Ultimately, the system will have to change as a company scales. Keeping that in mind is a helpful way to avoid getting stuck in the same mode of thinking. A system that’s working today must change over time.