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Sales & Marketing

Forget Mars and Venus, Sales is from Alpha Centauri and Marketing from Gliese 581!

One July 4th we had our annual BBQ – as every year, it was a nice opportunity for us to get together since we’re a virtual company. We can always count on lively debates because, frankly, we hail from all over the demand generation map and because it’s a rare opportunity for marketing and sales to talk about their respective sides of the demand generation coin over a glass of beer or wine.

Some of our marketing folks opened by lamenting how sales people don’t understand analytics, don’t input data accurately into the CRM systems they built for them, and that the old excuse that the leads are bad is an ever-present political nuisance. Could our esteemed sales colleagues please help by explaining how sales people think and translate their behavior for marketing?

That was when the following conversation ensued:

  • Sales person (S): “Do you have credit card debt?”
  • Marketing person (M): “No, my only debt is my mortgage.”
  • S: “Do you pay off your debts regularly?”
  • M: “Always.”
  • S: “Do you party a lot?”
  • M: “Rarely.”
  • S: “Are you analytical?”
  • M: “I dream in Excel.”
  • S: “Then you’ll never understand sales people. They typically live in the moment. They’re not analytical and they’re relationship people. They don’t care too much about how accurate the data is in the CRM system. But they know how to work a relationship until they walk away with the business. It looks easy but it’s really hard to do.”

We were laughing, of course, while having this somewhat tongue-in-cheek debate. But then things got more serious. Marketing wanted to know whether the newly emerging demand generation approaches, sometimes called  “Marketing 2.0” or “Account Based Marketing” and the associated technologies like Salesforce or Marketo aren’t also changing the sales world.

The response was yes, but that the average sales organization was probably less ready to implement deep analytics and the associated transparency and accountability than their marketing colleagues, who are further along the adoption curve of these modern technologies. Partly because these transitions are not just about implementing new systems but also about making deep cultural and process changes.

However, as of late, sales organizations are increasingly taking a more analytical approach to managing their pipelines, and are implementing new sales management tools, as well.

For example, “Sales 2.0” executives are increasingly passing MQLs or SQLs to their most effective sales teams, be they internal (enterprise, SMB, tele sales, channel) or external (partners, channel) teams, based on who’s more likely to close those leads. This new approach contrasts with common ways of passing the best leads to members of their respective sales cohort, no matter what the impact on conversion and closure rates.

Or sales leaders are increasingly relying on analytical pipeline management and visualization tools such as InsightSquared or Tableau that make the pipeline progression graphically visible and provide the analytics to diagnose what’s working or not.

At this point we might pause to explain our light-hearted choice for this blog’s title, in case you were wondering about our choices of galactic origins for sales and marketing. First, we were compelled because not even the experts could agree if sales and marketing are from Mars or Venus, respectively, or vice versa:

Second, we believe that given the distance that all too often exists between sales and marketing, they could not possibly originate from the same planetary system. So, we decreed that sales is not from Mars or Venus, but instead hails from Alpha Centauri, a fantastic galaxy far, far, far away. While marketing, in contrast, must clearly be from Gliese 581, a planetary cluster presumed to be inhabitable, but sadly in an unreachable galaxy.

With that bit of humor out of the way, after all our Fourth holiday banter we made the more serious decision to expand on some of our other, recent blogs about how to get sales and marketing to work together with practical, proven tips about how to bring the two halves of the demand generation function to cooperate more effectively. And to also dive more extensively into the role of analytics in re-inventing the way technology businesses market and sell their wares–subjects we also recently blogged about.

For now, here are some interesting links also worth sharing on the subject:

McKinsey & Company Reports

A just released article from McKinsey & Company on the benefits of making sales and marketing pipeline management more analytical, focused on four key areas (i.e. lead generation, sales resource allocation and management, customer lifetime value, and pricing optimization), complete with a nicely thought out, five-phase implementation process.

Two more McKinsey & Company articles on managing organizations using analytics include:

Stay tuned…

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