For managed service providers (MSPs) and other cloud computing companies to succeed, the natural antipathy these customer-facing departments feel for each other must be overcome.
In the history of arch rivalries the Hatfields and McCoys have nothing on the encounter between marketing and sales departments.
For managed service providers (MSPs) and other cloud computing companies to succeed, the natural antipathy these customer-facing departments feel for each other must be overcome. In fact, they have to get sales to love marketing, and the reverse should also remain a goal. They can do this by enabling cloud marketers to drive revenue from their outbound efforts.
“In many organizations the two teams are clearly separated: Marketing is responsible for driving leads to the site and to the call center, and salespeople are left to their own devices to convert the prospects,” says Andrei Utkin, CMO, Insureon, web-based provider of business insurance to startups and other SMBs. “If marketing’s only KPI was lead volume, it could be gamed. I can think of many different channels and tactics that could drive tons of irrelevant, non-converting leads, and then let sales struggle.”
Getting Sales to Believe in Marketing
The first issue that needs addressing remains getting sales to believe in marketing. Of course, if a cloud company culture already exists that has all the personnel pulling in the same direction, it could take less effort. At Dialpad, a next-generation cloud communications company that says all its people work from a common room without cubicles, believes that the truth behind marketing success lies in the storytelling, which will be on display Oct. 18 at the Marketing Loves Sales event in San Carlos, California.
“The best way to get your sales team to believe in marketing’s value is to demonstrate results and commit to shared goals,” says John Paul Walti, head of content and digital marketing, Dialpad. “Transparency, analytics and clear communication are also critical elements to revealing marketing’s value to sales.”
Concomitant with transparency, truth must exist. And the truth means adhering to the facts. As a famous policymaker once said, everyone’s entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Thus, marketing and sales must agree on the definition of the facts, according to cloud marketing experts.
“Trust, transparency and an effective feedback loop are how you get sales to believe marketing,” says Ryan Wilson, B2B agency lead, LinkedIn. “Agreement on the definition of ‘a qualified lead’ and the sales process for working that lead is a critical first step. Next, provide transparency into key metrics—lead volume, conversion to opportunity, closing rate—and capture a ‘lost’ reason for leads that don’t turn into opportunities.”
Finally, marketing and sales must have a routine timetable to review and revise the approach for both sales and marketing, according to Wilson. This must exist based on data and qualitative feedback from the team. “If you're effectively listening, learning and optimizing, you’ll be seen as a partner in the process, rather than a distraction,” he says.
Investing in Marketing to Drive Revenue
Of course, simply believing in marketing will not do it for sales. Cloud companies must invest in their marketing efforts in order to make them effective revenue lead generators for sales. So how should MSPs and other cloud providers go about putting money into the marketing infrastructure? Some SaaS-based providers that cater to the needs of legacy businesses take a pragmatic, ad hoc approach to the concept.
“Our revenue-driven marketing investments are based on defining addressable market opportunities and prioritizing identified markets relative to near-term financial gains and long-term strategy,” says Carter Holland, CMO, TraceLink, provider of cloud supply chain solutions to 16 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies. “Once those priorities are established, we assess marketing requirements against priorities—preferred information channels per audience, localization, alignment of marketing content to sales funnel, etc.—to determine specific program investment levels.”
In addition, cloud providers need to establish yard markers for marketing. They must state what success looks like so as to know when they get there. So establish metrics that map to the goals of the campaigns and programs you are running, according to the experts.
“While it sounds obvious, often the focus of marketing teams doesn’t match the goals of the sales team,” says Giles House, CMO, CallidusCloud, provider of cloud sales, marketing, learning and customer experience solutions. “Get them involved in the planning phase of the campaigns you are running to make sure results align with expectations.”
It then becomes a case of tracking return on dollars spent—which could be revenue, pipeline, reach, contacts, according to House.
Partnering with Sales on Digital and Content Channels
When it comes to customer experience (CX), cloud computing marketing experts express empathy with the idea that marketing and sales can partner on it. A convergence has occurred where digital, content and other outbound efforts all feed to CX, which has now become more fluid than ever before, they say.
“Customers now expect a seamless experience whether engaging with marketers, sales or even service organizations,” says Scott Anderson, CMO, Sitecore, a provider of customer experience management solutions. “As positioning, product marketing strategy, messaging, demand and sales enablement are typically marketing functions, a great opportunity exists for marketers to work with sales on building the full customer experience map.”
With that map in hand, expectations become established and marketing and sales can understand who will take each part of the business conversation, according to Anderson. Then when the experience map has been aligned with the demand waterfall, marketing will have almost daily reasons to engage with sales. “That day-to-day problem solving, focused on exceeding customer expectations, is where real partnerships form,” Anderson says.
It also helps the partnering effort if marketing can get sales to go deeper and get specific about the results they expect, according to Dr. Mark Goulston, psychiatrist, speaker on empathic-based marketing and selling and author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone. He advises marketing to listen closely to the answers that sales gives in order to achieve their goals. “Then do everything in your power to help them achieve them,” he says.
Techniques for Keeping Focus on Revenue to Break Down Walls
In the end, to break down the walls between sales and marketing teams, MSPs and other cloud providers should always keep their customers in mind, according to the experts. Working together they can create the optimal customer experience, where customers receive personalized and relevant content and offers at the right time.
“Gaining a complete understanding of customers can lead to additional revenue opportunities and better synergy between marketing and sales,” says Ajay Khanna, vice president, marketing, Reltio, a data management provider. “This is especially true for account-based marketing strategies, where sales and marketing work together to identify the right accounts and the right messages for the account and create tailored engagement plans for all stakeholders in the account.”
At the bottom line, data management will exist as the difference maker in making or breaking down the walls between marketing and sales. After all, figures or numbers don’t lie. And data remains a set of numbers.
“If the marketers have access to good data they will be able to demonstrate impact to the sales funnel,” says David Johnson, director of product marketing, Oracle Marketing Cloud. “If marketing can consistently demonstrate that they are handing over quality leads to the sales organization the barriers will go away on their own.”