In light of the rapidly approaching New Year and while resolutions are top of mind, we spoke with Daniel Rodriguez at Seismic, a global leader in marketing and sales enablement, to talk about re-shaping the sales and marketing effort for the better through a more united front across teams. Rodriguez elaborated on which gaps exists between sales and marketing professionals, why they exist, and how companies can utilize technologies like artificial intelligence to bridge that gap.
Here’s what he had to say in our conversation about driving revenue growth, lead generation, and improved approaches sales and marketing professionals can take in the New Year:
Modern Marketing Today (MMT): Tell me a bit about your background and your role at Seismic.
Daniel Rodriguez (DR): I’m the VP of Marketing here at Seismic, leading our efforts around lead generation and generating awareness. I was involved in a couple very early stage startups at business school, so I was drawn to what the founders at Seismic were able to build. Since joining, what I’ve really found rewarding is the team building aspect of growing a marketing department from the ground-up and figuring out the ways to collaborate to communicate the value of the product to a growing group of prospective customers.
MMT: What are some of the main challenges in creating a cohesive sales and marketing team?
DR: One of the issues is that, as organizations grow larger, siloes inherently develop between teams. When you combine that with the fact that the strengths and qualities that make for a great sales person are not generally the same as some of the qualities you look for in a marketer, communication problems are bound to start appearing. It is under this environment that misalignment is created and cohesion lacks.
MMT: Why do you think these challenges exist?
DR: Up until really recently, i.e. the past couple years or so, it has been incredibly tough for marketing teams to tie their efforts to sales and revenue. The technologies and the processes simply weren’t developed. But in their absence, marketing still needed something quantifiable to help prove their value to the enterprise.
This is why over the past couple decades we saw the proclivity to lean on rather nebulous metrics such as impressions, shares, and likes, along with celebrating the marketing qualified lead as an end-all be-all for marketing teams, as if simply finding people for sales teams was enough.
But I think deep down, most marketers have realized that this isn’t enough (and if they haven’t realized this, their CEO certainly has), which is why you’re now seeing a rapid rise in strategies that more directly tie marketing’s efforts to those of sales, like account based marketing and sales enablement.
This idea, of doing what you can as a marketer to support the sales process and drive revenue, of collaborating closely with sales and help them be the best conduits of your company’s value proposition as they can possibly be, is going to define this new era of marketing in which we find ourselves entering.
MMT: What are the results of a more collaborative sales and marketing team (besides boosted sales)?
DR: Well, being able to deliver boosted sales is a big thing. But other than that, when sales and marketing teams are more aligned, it also becomes much easier to identify strengths and weaknesses in the entire purchase funnel, ultimately resulting in more intelligent future investment decisions around sales and marketing spend in general.
Also, when sales and marketing are in sync, you’re providing a much more positive experience for the customer. They are receiving the same messaging and more consistent information. What is being communicated to the buyer at the top of the funnel—in terms of product functionality, use cases, pricing, etc.—is in line with what they hear right before they purchase.
MMT: What advice to you have for sales and marketing professionals in order to create a more cooperative and effective team?
DR: First, you need to define that shared set of common goals that both teams can work towards. Again, without that it’s very tough to develop cohesion and alignment. Then, both teams need to operate under the promise that they will help the other be more successful at their jobs.
For example, marketing can promise that in the New Year, they will study the available data to make every piece of existing sales content more effective as they pertain to helping move buyers through each stage of the sales cycle. Meanwhile, sales will provide consistent feedback on new pieces of sales content so that quick, important iterations can be made by marketing.
We’re in the era right now in which sales and marketing are being illuminated; technology has really shone a spotlight on what truly works and what doesn’t, and allows us to make changes more intelligently and efficiently than ever before. For instance, a lot of marketing trams have struggled to understand whether what they create is helpful or not.
In the absence of that, there’s potential misalignment between what sales teams are expecting in their content and what marketing thinks will work best. Now there is data available to help marketers create more content that is really going to be helpful. Through technology, we have the ability to set ourselves up for success in advance of every situation, because we can learn more through our failures than ever before.
MMT: Anything else you’d like to add?
DR: Because this is Modern Marketing Today, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t briefly discuss the impact artificial intelligence is already having on sales and marketing alignment…for the better. By uncovering insight into buyer behaviors that humans can’t see, such as what pieces of content truly work best with what buyers and when, sales will benefit through more productive buyer interactions.
Marketing will benefit from more information on how to improve the purchase funnel. This is an area where we’re investing heavily on the product side at Seismic, and I’m incredibly excited what the future holds in this regard as a B2B marketer.