Strategic Alignment: Driving Communication, Cohesion, and Adoption across Sales and Marketing

Jan 7, 2021
Author: collin stewart

Before taking the role of Director of Sales and Business Development at Quick Base, Kim Brown spent the majority of her career at tech startups. She worked on sales, marketing, sales operations, sales development, demand generation, and go-to-market teams at these small, fast-paced companies, and saw first-hand the alignment that could exist between all those involved in a revenue org – especially between sales and marketing teams. She also saw the negative impact when there were gaps, and it became her passion to bridge them.

Kim joined us on a recent episode of the Predictable Revenue Podcast to share how she’s putting that passion to use at Quick Base – a much larger organization than she’s used to, with a much larger revenue ecosystem. At a startup, it’s relatively easy to maintain alignment between teams. Teams are small, leaders have the bandwidth to communicate, and there aren’t many degrees of separation between those deciding strategic focus and those executing on it. But with 40 people on 4 teams just rolling up to her, and a plethora of other teams, managers, and leaders to contend with at Quick Base, Kim’s role has both broadened and specialized.

CROSS-FUNCTIONALITY

Kim’s teams are as follows: 1 inbound, and 3 outbound SDR teams segmented by the size of the companies they’re targeting. Kim and her teams interface with the several closing teams segmented the same way as her outbound teams, as well as sales enablement, sales programs, customer success, renewals, account management, implementation, marketing, go to market, demand gen, product, campaigns.

She is expected to work cross-functionally with the leaders, managers, directors and VPs of each group. This manifests as daily communication with 5-6 groups, weekly meeting cadences to stay on top of core priorities and ongoing strategic projects, and a handful of 1 on 1s.

MARKETING <> SDR MATRIX

As far as outbound goes at Quick Base, campaigns follow a certain path. Marketing decides strategic focus and passes the information down through several teams including the campaigns, programs, product, technical and go-to-market teams before they land with the SDR team as a clear prospecting play. Transparency and communication every step of the way is vital. While marketing may hone in on ICP and identify what problems Quick Base is solving for its clients, there has to be stakeholder alignment between all teams even at this stage in the process.

As the information works its way through the matrix, it is technically owned by different teams, but every team continues to give input that shapes and influences the final outbound strategy. This constant feedback ensures buy-in, understanding, and adoption across the entire organization.

So what is the best way to deliver this information all the way down from marketing to sales development? This is something that every leader will have to discover for themselves as they determine what works best for their revenue organization, but Kim suspects it lies somewhere between an email drop and a week-long training session on a new strategy.

That’s an ambiguous answer, but the important piece is the communication itself. The sales team, the final owners of this sales strategy, need to understand why. Why they are going after who they’re going after, why they’re reaching out to them this specific way, and why everyone through the matrix thinks it’ll work.

ANECDOTES VS DATA

The matrix also works reversed. SDRs need to communicate their learnings from the front lines back up to marketing to influence top-level strategy. The hard part with this, Kim finds, is making sure the information you decide to carry back up to marketing is backed by real data. Salespeople can be less data-driven, and put more weight in stories.

The problem with stories is that they are usually colored by the teller’s existing opinion, and may not be reflective of the opinions of a whole team. This is where tracking metrics becomes essential. If you’re starting with anecdotal evidence on something that isn’t working, look at effort (calls, emails, LinkedIn messages, meetings – all activities that move up the pipeline closer to revenue) and see if there is positive yield, or if the anecdotal evidence matches the data. Conversely, when you find a bottleneck somewhere in the metrics, you can then go to your team and ask for opinions on why they exist.

Either way, when the data shows there is a problem, the next step is to uncover what that problem is. Is an iteration necessary, or an overhaul? All the campaigns Kim’s teams are running are built within the same sales framework, with specific messaging depending on the segment, and space left for account-based personalization.

These are tried and true campaigns that have made it successfully through the marketing <> SDR matrix, so usually, when something isn’t working, the campaigns need nothing more than a tweak.

ADOPTION IS IN THE DATA

Just like when seeking out bottlenecks, effort is also where Kim looks to identify adoption. How many calls are being made in this campaign? How many emails are being sent? When you set goals at every stage in a campaign’s journey through the marketing <> sales development matrix, it’s easy to see when the goals are being missed and then move onto determining why. A tool like Outreach.io or another sales enablement tool is helpful for tracking these metrics.

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?

We understand how the cross-functional communication happens between the marketing and sales development teams at Quick Base to create strategies and ensure adoption. But what happens when that SDR team isn’t in lock-step with marketing? SDRs go rogue.

When there is a lack of understanding and trust about where campaigns, messaging, and strategy comes from, reps may decide for themselves what their outreach will look like. This leads to a lack of cohesion between reps, and between the SDR and marketing teams. So, leaders, be transparent, be unoffendable, and work with your fellow leaders on being as aligned as possible.

CONCLUSION

One of the most important things a sales team can have is standard messaging and common ideas about your company’s offering. Sometimes that’s something Sales leadership defines. Sometimes it comes down from Marketing. And sometimes the sales reps themselves are left to their own devices and tasked with coming up with value props, verbiage, and messaging.

A gap between sales and marketing leads to issues with adoption, cohesion, and scalability. But, according to Kim Brown, clear cross-functional communications and a great system for tracking data will solve this problem in no time.

EDITOR’S NOTES:

More on sales/marketing alignment: How to align marketing and sales to increase revenue with expert coach and consultant Jeff Davis

How to combine marketing and outbound skills to drive leads

Kim’s past episode: How Catavolt Evolves its Sales Development Process to Perfect Account Based Sales 

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