Chances are, your sales team is currently focused on making functional changes for significant improvement. This can include new quotas, territories, products, and compensation plans. Let's add one more thing to the list — creating a spirit of cooperation between your sales and marketing organization.
Unless your team totally knocked it out of the park last year and you think lightning can strike twice using the same approach, now is a good time to try something new.
Today’s modern salesperson doesn’t sell in a vacuum, and reaching a new level of success in sales often requires some help from marketing.
Previously, many organizations saw success using an older model where marketing generates leads, throws them over the wall to sales, and the sales team handles everything else. Today, "smarketing" — alignment between sales and marketing teams — rules the day.
In successful companies in 2020 and beyond, marketing needs to help sell and sales needs to provide support to the marketing function. During a time where many industries are hyper-competitive, and buyers have more options than ever, most salespeople can use all the help they can get.
As we work with sales teams throughout the world, one of the most frequent requests starts with a melancholy statement, "You know, I wish marketing could help me with…" Avoid this by asking for what you need from your marketing counterparts.
Here are some tips sales reps can use to ask their market department for support.
How to Ask Marketing for Help
- Figure out what you need to reach your goals.
- Identify your marketing leaders or a suitable counterpart.
- Review basic assumptions.
- Make data-driven requests.
- Meet regularly to review progress.
- Celebrate shared successes.
1. Figure out what you need to reach your goals.
The first step to asking for help is to figure out what you need to succeed. It’s important to understand both your personal and team expectations so that you can quantify your ask. I recommend using a reverse funnel analysis to determine exactly what you need to hit and exceeding your goals.
For example, if you need $1M of incremental revenue, you can work backward to calculate how you would read this goal.
- To get to $1M in incremental revenue, how many customers do you need to sell to?
- How many proposals do you need to send to reach that many customers?
- How many opportunities do we need to get to that many proposals?
- How many conversations do to get to that many opportunities and then how many sales qualified leads (SQL’s) and marketing qualified leads (MQL’s) are required to get into that many conversations? When you do your calculation, factor in when you need the leads by so you can factor it into your sales process.
2. Identify your marketing leaders or a suitable counterpart.
Find an org chart or ask your sales leader to walk through who does what on the marketing team with you. When you identify key contacts, ask for time to meet to discuss plans for the period ahead.
A few introductory questions can go a long way. For example, I would start off with, "My name is Dan, from the sales team. I want to understand how sales and marketing might be able to work more effectively together this year."
After an introduction, you can follow up with some of these questions:
- "Can you tell me about your background and what you do?"
- "What are some of the marketing team’s goals for the year?"
- "How can I help your team reach your goals this year?"
- "Tell me about how I can help you look good?"
- "My quota is 'X' this year. I would love to discuss how we can work together to hit it."
- "What can I do to help you?"
An opening conversation can go a long way and shows your intention to work together to succeed. It also gives you an idea of how the marketing team is performing — whether they are in catch up, steady-state or overachieving mode. If you already have a service-level agreement between sales and marketing, you can consider if there should be adjustments.
3. Review basic assumptions.
Introducing new business processes that involve marketing? Make sure there is agreement on the basic foundation of new processes before implementing them. Here are some assumptions you’ll want to ensure marketing agrees to.
- Ideal customer profile — Who is your company selling to and why? Is the profile used by both marketing and sales targeting the same ideal customer?
- Buyer personas — Typically used by marketing organizations, buyer personas are generalized fictional depictions of your ideal customer. Ask your marketing organization what buyer personas they are targeting to ensure alignment with your sales efforts.
- Sales process — Review your sales process and pipeline stages with your marketing team at a high level, so they understand the customer experience and how their work fits into the process.
- Competitive advantage — Review information gathered from your latest competitive analysis research.
- Collateral — As the marketing team creates new collateral to attract prospects, the sales team should have access to these materials and should know how to access them.
- Up-sell and cross-sell opportunities — map out a strategy for up-selling and cross-selling offerings to current clients and customers.
4. Make data-driven requests.
The process of identifying the right data in a timely fashion is fast becoming a competitive advantage. Providing your marketing team visibility to sales data and vice-versa can be very helpful for maintaining synergy between the two organizations, and can create a solid foundation for making requests.
I like to start with the positive points, sharing data indicating what is working to move clients to the next step of the sales process. I also like to show inflection points where the process needs significant improvement, to indicate where sales may need some support.
5. Meet regularly to review progress.
Setting a cadence to meet on a regular basis can help you build a relationship, instead of relying on annual reviews or only collaborating when putting out fires. Build a template with the most important stats to measure, consider and review, so that you can quickly identify and adjust.
Some companies open monthly meetings to everyone in the company to provide visibility and educate everyone on the basic new business development motion. If your company doesn’t use this approach, you can start with just the sales and marketing teams and adjust your cadence as needed.
6. Celebrate shared successes.
Make sure you give marketing credit for the support they provide. Whether your marketing team offers lead generation expertise, content development, templates, workflows, or other resources, make sure they feel good about their contributions to ensure continued success.
When marketing and sales organizations are able to work together cohesively, their company is in a better position to bring in more revenue. For more tips on how sales and marketing can work together, check out this post.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.