I was recently reminded of this blog, Four Strategies for Strong Sales & Marketing Partnership, from almost eight years ago. At that time, the inspiration was a pattern we observed among growth equity investment candidates where Sales was more mature than Marketing as a function and, as the business ramped investment in Marketing, misalignment developed. At times, the misalignment could be as blatant as Sales focused on named-account territories and an outbound solution sales motion to executive-level decision makers in those accounts, while Marketing is running broad-based product feature oriented campaigns to drive inbound leads. In other cases, there may be greater strategic alignment on ICP and revenue cycle, but a lack of shared goals and metrics.
Well, over the last eight years, technology tools and platforms have certainly advanced go-to-market strategies and operations by leaps and bounds, but this GTM alignment challenge persists for most growth-stage businesses. And the reason why it matters has only become more crucial as buyers become more discerning and self-educated on your solutions and competition continues to heat up.
According to HubSpot research, ORGANIZATIONS WITH STRONG ALIGNMENT DELIVER 38% HIGHER SALES WIN RATES AND 24% FASTER REVENUE GROWTH OVER 3 YEARS. Without alignment, this acceleration is not possible, not to mention, capital is wasted.
As such, Edison Operating Partners Mariann McDonagh and Sherri Sklar recently led a webcast for our Sales and Marketing leaders where they discussed these 10 big ideas for driving GTM alignment. Use these practical and actionable tips to strengthen relationships across your GTM organization.
- Customer characteristics. The first (and arguably most important) area of alignment is on the profile of customer(s) that your GTM teams target, grow, and retain. This means defining and documenting your ICP (ideal customer profile) at the account level and buyer personas at the individual level. This also means having the discipline to revisit these account and buyer characteristics with changing dynamics. Something as critical as your business’ buyers should be continually refined, tested, and – most importantly – activated as a strategic “true north” for everything your GTM team does.
- Customer-centric revenue cycle. With ICP and personas defined, documented, and well understood, you need customer-centric marketing, and sales (and success!) process that maps to the way your buyers buy and customers think. Often, we see buyer journeys that take an inside-out view. Remember – it’s not a buyer journey if you are not looking at it through the lens of your customer. What matters to them far outweighs your organization’s sometimes limited view of how customers should behave while buying. And don’t be afraid to use friendly customers to test your buyer journey concepts to ensure their validity.
- Shared goals & metrics. Define and align on the metrics that matter to your business and how you will measure them. In addition to customer alignment, shared vocabulary, definitions and goals are the glue that binds the GTM organization.
- Revenue handbook. Every GTM organization can benefit from a handbook (or call it a guide, a bible, or even a cheat sheet) that illuminates why, how, and what you do to get, grow and keep customers, including the key roles of each team, and shared goals and SLAs. Make this required reading and acceptance for every member of the Sales, Marketing, and Success teams
- Priority motions. Armed with stronger ICP and goal alignment, refine process and programming based on the company's priorities. For growth-stage companies, GTM priority motions are commonly 2-3 of the following:
- Top of funnel quality and quantity
- Accelerating mid-funnel pipeline
- Capturing more $ per existing customer
- Greater partner contribution
(Why not all four, you might ask? Well, it's difficult to excel at all four until there's 100% alignment and the GTM machine is firing on all cylinders.)
- Unify the funnel. With understanding (and documentation) of the buyer and customer mindset at each stage of their journey, you're equipped to map your actions to that mindset. In doing so, you want to ensure one, continuous motion from the moment a contact shows interest through that contact becoming a customer and eventually an advocate. Marketing, Sales & Success together own the revenue cycle.
- Relevant content. Your content marketing strategy must support the buyer journey and supporting motions in your marketing and sales process. Study the stages and where deals may be slow or stuck. What content can help move the needle? What does Sales need to drive more conversations?
- Don't forget enablement. Marketing may be creating great, relevant content, but nobody's going to know about it or how to use it without proper enablement. Focus on not only the what and why, but how sales reps should use the piece and in what context. Provide Sales with cadences (phone, email) that demonstrate the how, e.g., revitalize lagging opportunities or drive deals to closure.
- Leadership matters. CROs and CMOs must set the tone of GTM partnership, show commitment to driving accountability and sharing consistent transparent feedback. Consider developing what we refer to as the 4Csas a set of guiding principles for how Sales and Marketing work together:
- Culture, e.g., Perhaps Shared Destiny is the core GTM culture value; what are the behavioral norms expected to support it?
- Comms, e.g., If Facts, Fast, Focus, Fun is the core GTM communication-related value, what are the norms to support it?
- Connected, e.g., We Close the Loop as a core value means what for expected behaviors?
- Continuous Improvement, e.g., Monthly Management might be a value that guides how performance is assessed and optimized.
- Communication - a lot of it. Worth repeating! Having open and regular connections between Sales and Marketing teams provides the opportunity to address problems as they develop, before they get the chance to fester and impact culture. Find the weekly, monthly, and quarterly cadence that works for the right team members, level of visibility, and action across your strategies and initiatives.
Got some of your own experiences or GTM alignment tips and tricks to share? We'd love to hear from you in the comments area below.