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Sales and Marketing Alignment…Actually Defined with Christine Selvaggio

Christine Selvaggio, Manager of Operations Consulting with Etumos, joins Kristin and Kristin to talk about the elusive perfect world of sales and marketing alignment. In perfect timing with the upcoming holidays, learn how marketers and MOPs professionals can come to the table and enjoy their time with their sales and SOPs counterparts. Hint, it involves a bit of altruism combined with some KPI planning.

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Hosted by Kristin Crowe (OGK), and Kristin Anne Carideo (KAC)

music: (00:01)
Intro theme song by Rusty Hall.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (00:36)
Hi, I’m Kristin Crowe.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (00:38)
And I’m Kristin Carideo.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (00:40)
And this is Must Contain the podcast from Etumos where we help explain the how of marketing. Although we can’t always explain the why.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (00:48)
Join us every two weeks as we break down marketing and corporate topics and discuss what they really mean.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (00:53)
And if you’re enjoying this podcast, please remember to like, subscribe, follow- all the things on your favorite podcast platform.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (01:01)
And we’re back with episode three of Must Contain. I’m Kristin.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (01:05)
And I’m Kristin. And this week, we’re talking about Sales and Marketing Alignment.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (01:09)
Oh, Kristin, I’m getting really strong buzzword vibes. Alignment reminds me of one of my favorites- synergy. That’s for another day; I do feel like Sales and Marketing Alignment has been all the rage since maybe 2010. And joining us today to give her perspective is our very own Christine Selvaggio. Hello, Christine.

Christine Selvaggio: (01:31)
Hello, Kristin and Kristin.

Christine Selvaggio: (01:33)
I’m very excited to be here today and to talk about this hot topic that’s been around for almost 11 years. I’m really interested to see what kind of questions you guys have. I’m looking forward to it.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (01:47)
Well, thanks for joining us. And again, I’ll be honest. I just got tired of saying the word sales, and marketing alignment gives me some flashbacks to some pretty terrible conference room showdowns.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (02:00)
Yeah. I mean, we really have been talking about it for a long, long time, and no one ever truly seems to be able to like, actually do it. So we just keep talking about it.

Christine Selvaggio: (02:11)
Yes, I would agree with you. I feel like from my experience, people like to throw around buzzwords such as, and I guess this is like a buzz phrase to some degree they’re like this year we’re going to have Sales and Marketing Alignment.

Speaker 2: (02:26)
Nobody ever defines what that means for their org. Everybody has a different definition of it. I’m sure you guys are going to ask me what that means. We’ll get into that in a second, but yeah, this is something that I don’t think will ever go away. I think if you pay attention to it now and try to define that, you’ll just get, you’ll be more successful as you continue to go on.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (02:45)
So, Christine, I know you’ve paid attention to the previous podcasts. I’m sure. You know, our first question is going to be what exactly is Sales and Marketing Alignment? The short answer is working together for a common goal. What does that mean? It depends on who you are, depends on your organization. Depends on how mature you are. I think about it as two sides of the same coin, marketing’s going to have its project priorities and is going to only be successful with the sales team’s support. Sales are going to have project priorities that will truly only be successful if marketing is supportive of those objectives. So I think having this communication and whether those are quarterly touchpoints, right? Weekly meetings between certain points of contact on both teams, whatever that is. But I, I feel like it’s important for both sides and both teams to take a shared interest in what the other’s priorities are and how they can, how those priorities can also help benefit the organization as a whole. So when I think of alignment, I just think of teams that want to support each other for a common goal that lifts the organization up.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (03:59)
So why is it so difficult to get right? We have heard the advice for years to align your KPIs, make sure that sales and marketing are working against the same KPIs, even in organizations where that’s the case where the KPIs are aligned or at least nearly aligned people are still struggling. Why do you think that is?

Christine Selvaggio: (04:19)
I think for a multitude of reasons. One, I would say you’re mentioning KPIs is my KPI. How many meetings does my sales team set? If so, why should marketing care about that? And I think that’s where the feedback loop and conversation and, you know, communication channels are extremely important. And what I mean by that is let’s use those KPIs number of meetings set, right? Their sales team is probably getting paid some sort of commission off of meetings that are set that turn into opportunities that your organization. Marketing, therefore, has probably done some sort of mathematical equation, and to say, we have to send over a hundred people per week in order for sales to maybe hit their goal. Right. But does anybody on the marketing side really go look at any reports and be like, okay, Tom on the sales team sitting in the Southeast region is, you know, 200% above goal, but Mary out in California is only 50% to goal. Why is that, right? Like what is really happening where we aren’t hitting our goal numbers, but we’re also exceeding them and then taking that information and continuing to build upon your strategy. So if we continue to operate where we’re not asking each other, you know, what are those KPIs? How do they impact both teams, then? Are we truly having alignment on how to get there and what they mean for our success?

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (05:50)
Can you talk a little bit about some projects that you’ve seen and somebody who’s been in marketing and Marketing Ops where you need a lot of alignment with the sales team?

Christine Selvaggio: (05:57)
Yeah. I feel like we just had this conversation the other day. And you know, I think of a few instances, and you know, obviously, the glaring one is like all of a sudden your top priority as a marketing team is standing up a marketing automation platform. Let’s say you already have a mature CRM that the sales team is operating out of. If you don’t have a good relationship with the team, that’s owning that CRM system, then how can your implementation of, you know, your core marketing automation platform provide your marketing team success if it’s not integrated with the sales team in mind, right? And what I mean by that is like asking all the tough questions about data hygiene and how records are gonna flow between the systems and what user access do we need, and what are the fields that we need in marketing in order for marketing to truly segment and communicate with certain funnel stages.

Christine Selvaggio: (06:57)
I mean, those, yeah, the technology is not going to solve all your problems, but it enables your organization. And if you’re not looking at it, you know, as a Marketing Ops professional, beyond that handoff point, and what’s coming back into the system after the sales touchpoint, then you’re going to be operating on your own, and there’ll be a breakdown in the process somewhere. I would also say, let’s say your implementation of your marketing automation platform has been the most wildly successful project of your org in 2021. And now you’ve hired Etumos to implement life cycle processing. People are like, we do that. And you’re like, but do you really? Right? And what I mean by that is, are you just paying attention to the lead object? Maybe your sales team literally only works off of the contact object, maybe marketing’s responsibility for, you know, pipeline creation and influence has changed over the last year.

Christine Selvaggio: (07:52)
And so if you’re not working with your sales team to define, you know, what is that handoff touchpoint? How do I tell where people are in the funnel stages? What’s the definition of a customer? Let’s say your sales team has an account team and there’s like the person who initially sold it, and now there’s an account executive, but then this person’s responsible when a new opportunity arises with a certain contact role in the org like is marketing supposed to pay attention to the engagement of that specific contact and then let the person on the account team know to reach outright? And like what information do they need at that point in time, imagine doing that, sitting at your computer on the marketing side and never talking to the part to the end-user of that information to help enable them.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (08:36)
I think that’s so true that its communication is a two-way street. And you talked a lot about feedback loops and not just stopping at the handoff as a Marketing Operations professional. And we assume our audiences are basically all Marketing Operations professionals. So from your perspective, where do you see MOPs people not supporting sales, and how could you recommend as MOPs professionals, we impact how aligned sales and marketing as organizations can be and should be.

Christine Selvaggio: (09:10)
Yeah, I think that’s a great question. I would say I practice this in my daily life, and I’ve seen some of the most successful Marketing Operations professionals lead with this objective, which is having an interest in the other side of the aisle. And what I mean by that is, yes, you’re responsible for your day-to-day job description or priorities, right? As a Marketing Ops professional. But I think if you don’t widen your lens and look at your day-to-day objectives and project priorities and how they influence other people’s success and teams in general, then you’re almost going to shut down when you get met with some type of objection. And so when I think about where I’ve sat in conversations, and it’s been, you know, just thinking through some examples I had in my head, we want to add like a status to a field, right?

Christine Selvaggio: (10:10)
Like a simple picklist, value change organizations have changed, you know, periods of time in their development where they implement changes into their Salesforce org as an example, right? Like if you don’t take that into account and understand who has to get approval on this truly, what is the impact on the organization? Why does it matter for the team if you’re not leading with that true understanding of the benefit of like, if we do this, what does it mean for other people? And you know, both of our teams? Then I just think you’re going to continue, like I said before, to shut down when met with the word now. And I also feel like as Marketing Operations professionals, we have to be flexible by nature. What is available and doable today? Our landscape is changing so quickly that I think if you don’t implement a project today, and then it becomes a priority in a quarter, like from now three months from now, there’s probably some, you could have a new tool that’s part of your tech stack. You could have a new, your sales team could have re-orged, right? Like, and that’s going to impact what your project plan is. So being rigid and not being open to that feedback, but also not doing anything. If somebody is taking the time to give you feedback. Well, I think you’ll just become stagnant and probably continue to be looked at as a cost center versus a value-driven team within the organization.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (11:37)
Yeah, absolutely. I think that might be people’s fear too, you know, thinking about, well, if I open myself up and bring another team that maybe someone else will get the credit or may, you know, maybe it won’t appear as I was successful, or my team was successful. And so I’m curious from your perspective, you know, how to make those types of conversations and meetings, where people are coming to the table together to work on a new project, you know, a map implementation or lead management processing. How can you get the teams to be more constructive and to work together when ultimately their end goal or their incentives might be different?

Christine Selvaggio: (12:27)
Yes. I will say realize that this is always going to be an evolving process, right? Meeting management is something that I think we all would like to get better at. And two don’t want to have death by meetings. Right? So I have seen a lot of success from my side where let’s say, let’s focus on larger projects right now, right? Where there’s multiple different teams that are involved having somebody identified as the key point of contact, label them, whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. But that person is responsible for saying like, okay, team, we’re meeting next Monday; I’m sending out an agenda ahead of time. And this is the goal. And inviting only those that truly have a shared interest in that agenda and can provide the information that you’re looking for. I’ve seen instances where 40 people get invited to a Zoom meeting, and then nothing gets done, right.

Christine Selvaggio: (13:23)
And you have people that then walk away, and they’re like never going to get that hour back in my life. I think if people come to your project meetings and see progress being made but also feel like their voice is being heard and that it was productive, then the buy-in will just continue to build. And the momentum, you can almost feel it shift. And that’s a really cool feeling when you feel like you’re completing a project with like other people involved and, you know, the outcome is going to be incredible. And I will also say Kristin, something you just said about sharing of the credit. I just read a quote really great quote. Like I think it was this morning, and it basically was, “it’s amazing what things can get done when you don’t worry about who gets the credit.” So I would almost challenge you with, like, it’s not a one-person, like the worlds we operate of marketing and sales operations is never just going to be driven by one person’s ideas, execution, implementations. And I think having that in mind and working as a team like you’ll just kill it when you when it comes to actually completing the projects and seeing the success.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (14:33)
That’s a really, really nice thought, Christine. I like that a lot. I also think, you know, I’ve seen a lot of sales and marketing teams really struggle. And I have a lot of opinions on this. I feel like I’m really hard on the marketing side of the house personally because to me, you know, marketing can do what they do and in a lot of different ways and, and sales can really do what they do only in a couple of different ways that are going to work. Right? So to me, it’s personally on the marketing team to be a little bit more flexible, but in my experience, I’ve seen marketing and Marketing Ops teams be really dismissive of sales and sales needs, especially if they are putting that up, you know, putting up that immediate roadblock to projects. Why do you think that is?

Christine Selvaggio: (15:26)
Again, from my experience and seeing what I’ve seen both, you know, obviously I’ve worked client-side and now, you know, agency side with Etumos as well. But I would say it’s where the individual, let’s say the Marketing Ops individual, literally is not taking a keen interest in the, you know, like the people sitting on the sales team and their organization as an example. And what I mean by that is going back to something we talked about earlier, which is like marketing, let’s say in your organization is responsible for engaging top of funnel prospects and then handing them off to sales. If you just wash your hands, whenever that happens, and, and you know, like I send an MQL to you, Kristin Anne, and I’m like, okay, my job is done, right. If I never go over to you and say, you know what, Kristin Anne, tell me about what happened when you spoke with the last 10 MQLs that I sent to you.

Christine Selvaggio: (16:21)
Right. What is, for those that were successful in the conversation that you had and led to like a meeting? Let’s just say, why, what did they have in common, those that objected to you and you may have just immediately disqualified or recycled, right? Like why, why was that? Is it something to do with who they were in terms of where they sat in the org, right? Or was it timing, or were they not qualified enough? And, and I think if, as a Marketing Ops professional, if you don’t ask those questions and get that feedback from the people sitting on the front lines, and that can be done by the person, just, you know, Kristin Anne, if you’re the salesperson and you’re recording your call, and then I, as the Marketing Ops person, just listen to it. And my, you know, when I have some free time where I sat in with you whatever that is but if you don’t take that information and actually do something with it, then why would sales waste their time?

Speaker 3: (17:13)
Right. And I think it’s just you being open to hearing the feedback that like, “Hey, marketing, I know you’re trying, but who you sent over the last, like, you know, the last hundred people you sent over to our sales team just haven’t been that great. And I, this is what I think we could tweak in terms of that process.” And then taking that and implementing it and trial and error and understanding what works, you will gain, like so much clout with your sales team. They will look at you as a shared partner of the overall success. And I think that relationship will just continue to build.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (17:46)
Yeah, I agree with that so much, very, very first marketing mentor, like the person who really taught me how to do demand generation, you know, one of the first things he said to me when I joined the organization was you have to join the sales calls. You have to listen to the sales calls. You have to understand what’s going on on the sales calls. There’s so much, like, I don’t know marketing magic that happens when you’re creating personas you know, targeting you know, segments of your database, where you’re making all these assumptions about how people buy, why they buy, if you’re not, and, and some of that, you know, you can capture in data fields, but most of it, you can’t like, you really have to actually listen to the sales call or talk to the salesperson like you were saying.

Christine Selvaggio: (18:37)
Yeah, I totally agree with you. And, you know, that’s such a, almost, I would call it a missed opportunity I see with organizations is, okay, so yeah, marketing and sales have a front seat to then this information. Right. But how do you then package that up and share it with other people in an organization, maybe like your content team? So let’s say your content is stale because your white paper, or like your case studies, are two years old. Right. You know, there’s probably a really unique opportunity here to take the information that you’re gathering between your shared conversations with the sales team and also share that with other people that are developing outward-facing material. So I just, I guess I say all that to get back to what you’re talking about, which is like open up your lens, right? And kind of look at it from a wider perspective instead of just your, like, I’m a Marketing Ops person, and I’m responsible for doing X, Y, and Z.

Christine Selvaggio: (19:32)
Yes, that’s important. I’m not saying don’t do your job but also saying like strategically challenge yourself to think about who this touches and what am I getting the other people could benefit from. And, you know, it’s like something I didn’t mention earlier, but I also feel strongly about it, which is nobody likes wasted time. Right? So if you have the opportunity, if a sales team member is showing you what their process is say, their CRM, like, let’s just say Salesforce as an example, truly take the time to like, ingest what they’re showing you, because if you come to the table and you’re like, we want to implement this way of doing things, but it requires a complete overhaul of the technical architecture of the CRM. You’re probably going to get push-back. Right. But I think if you take to heart, like what is happening in the tool, how it works, one, you cut downtime. And again, you get kind of the respect level from the other side, like the sales team, because you’re using terminology that resonates with them, right. You’re talking in a process that can work within your tech stack that your organization has today. So I would just leave; I would leave you with that kind of thought as well.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (20:45)
Thank you, Christine, for your final thought. And we’ll go through some final thoughts for those of you who want to digest this down into some quick bites. So here are the three things you really need to know about Sales and Marketing Alignment. If your company is still chasing the dream, here’s what you can do to help.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (21:04)
First, marketing- It is not all about you. You have goals and objectives you need to achieve, but so does your sales team; both sets of goals are valuable and important, and both impact the business’s bottom line. It’s best if your objectives are aligned at the KPI level. Yes, but that still tends to mean the short-term metrics that matter. For example, meetings set are unaligned. To understand their KPIs as much as possible and how they are seeing success.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (21:31)
Two. Lead with benefits. When presenting a project, when you’re presenting an idea that requires sales time and resources, be mindful of how a project impacts everyone involved and how both sales and marketing can come out as winners. Again, synergy is where it’s at, and don’t do projects that demand their time with things that don’t have mutual benefits. Again, it’s not all about you.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (21:55)
Three, don’t silo yourself in your marketing world. Join a sales call, make friends with an STR, understand what sales daily life looks like. We all have the same goal at the end of the day-revenue. So how can you, as a marketer or Marketing Ops person, serve the sales team better start from that.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (22:13)
And that’s must contain Sales and Marketing Alignment. Thanks for listening. We’ll be back in two weeks with another great MOPs topic; until then, remember, take a few deep breaths before you hit send on that email. And remember, it’s just an email campaign.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (22:31)
This episode was produced by Kristin Crowe, Kristin Carideo, Ali Stoltzfus, and Lindsay Walter. It was edited by Kristin Crowe, theme music by Rusty Hall, special, thanks to Christine Selvaggio, and a happy Thanksgiving to all of our US listeners. That’s it from Must Contain; I’m Kristin Crowe. And we’ll see you in two weeks.

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