It is time for quarterly business reviews, and you’re a leader sitting at the head of the table. While Q3 was not a flop perse, it was also not as great as leadership was hoping it would be. The number of deals closed was slightly under the projection discussed at the close of last quarter, and leadership wants answers, accountability and improvement plans for next quarter.
The marketing team walks into the boardroom with their reports in hand. They wow leadership with their successful stories and numbers for pipeline and lead generation. They explain to the room that sales must not have gone the extra mile to close more deals because, clearly, marketing provided copious leads. Marketing did their piece, and they cannot control the sales team’s lack of drive. They walk out, out to tackle their Q4 goals, believing they have effectively communicated their wins this quarter.
Then, the sales team walks into the gauntlet. Immediately on the defensive, they express that the marketing team has done little to nothing to generate quality leads. They explain the sales they were able to close required extreme amounts of time and effort that led to massive stress and workload for them. Despite marketing’s poor support, sales championed their successes in times of low-quality leads. Sales walked out of the room feeling as if they adequately defended their work, shortcomings and successes, excited to close deals in Q4 and hopeful for quality leads from marketing with leadership’s support.
The leadership team is completely lost now. Who are they expected to believe? What do they need to do to meet their ROI targets for Q4? What team should they reprimand, and what team should they support? This has become more of an internal battle than expected.
Unfortunately, sales and marketing are often at odds with each other, especially when positioned so at quarterly and yearly reviews.
Xander Broeffle, Director of Marketing Operations at CS2, believes this kind of scenario is exactly why ensuring teams are aligned, pursuing the same goals and helping each other pursue goals is the only way for a business to be consistently successful and sustainable. His expertise in synergizing departments has led to consistently meeting and exceeding targets (and less of these confusing, nonproductive QBR meetings).
Revenue and pipeline goals
The disconnect and misalignment between sales and marketing is something Xander has seen countless times before while working with clients, as a consultant and even working in-house. With marketing working towards their own goals while sales do the same, often the two departments do not even know what the other is aiming towards — much less how they can help each other.
This forces leaders to question what each team is individually bringing to the table. It could be a quick process to prove the sales team’s value based on closed deals alone. On the other hand, marketing’s worth is harder to justify. The leadership team of any business places high value on revenue and pipeline generation, which are arguably the two top priorities across the board.
When marketing and sales are placed in a defensive position, it creates an environment that is not conducive to success and sets the stage for missed opportunities and targets.
Building a winning operations coalition
To tackle this dilemma, building a coalition amongst operational teams is key. Before ever entering the board room or presenting data to leadership, teams should regularly meet with one another, share goals and targets and find ways to support each other in reaching those goals.
Without a formal revenue operations team to conduct these meetings, even an unofficial coalition is a must-have to ensure team members, processes, data and technology are all aligned to reach those two top priorities — revenue and pipeline generation.
“No deal should be able to make it through without some impact from marketing,” Xander says. “On the flip side, you cannot close a deal without sales. So, work to elevate each other on those QBRs and send a unified message to the leadership team.”
When sales and marketing are aligned, they spend much less time defending their own turf — meaning they can spend their time winning more deals together.
Attribution is still important
This does not serve to say that there is no room for attribution, as it still is important.
“Instead of a mindset built around proving worth, this team structure creates a mindset focused on improving the data,” Xander says.
When looking at the data together, it will become readily apparent what is working to close deals. In lieu of marketing utilizing the traditional model of only MQLs, building a unified front will create a bigger-picture focus in QBRs.
“MQLs are important. They are a leading indicator of pipeline generation and a key point to measure in the process,” Xander says. “However, when MQLs become the only focus, marketing begins to lose sight of actual sales. That means the business as a whole will eventually miss their revenue goals.
Tips for creating alignment
Building alignment begins with thoroughly examining where a company currently resides. If the organization is structured well with processes in place and leadership already assigning goals to departments, meeting those major targets is the first step to building alignment.
If the structure is non-existent, the first step would be to ensure the goals of individual departments are not conflicting.
“Discussions and cohesion with other teams are crucial,” Xander says. “Speaking the language of the rest of the business, not just the marketing language, will help create collaboration.”
This also presents a perfect opportunity to distinguish yourself as a leader. When misalignments arise, throwing a flag and addressing them as quickly as possible with all of the internal stakeholders will work to save ROI targets. After all, communication and cohesion is the only road that leads to becoming an industry leader.
Interested in learning more about building internal coalitions, sharing goals across entire organizations and more? Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts.