At Launch Raven, we firmly believe in creating an environment where sales and marketing are operating with one map. It takes time to get everyone rowing in the right direction, but it’s worth the effort. When we pretend that misalignment between these teams is no big deal—when we ignore the problem and hope it’ll just go away—we waste time, energy, and massive amounts of money.
Most CEOs agree that misalignment between sales and marketing is more than just an “elephant in the room.” It’s a giant, angry elephant that’s trashing the room while managers and execs sip coffee and make nervous small talk. Sales and marketing should be working synchronously as a seamless revenue-generating machine, but all too often they butt heads and jockey for position instead of working together.
At Launch Raven, we are passionate about getting these two key teams two teams to row in the same direction. We’ve seen the financial damage that ensues when marketing goes left while sales goes right, and the spectacular growth that results when they cooperate. And we know how to make that cooperation feel easy, natural, and beneficial to all involved. Our own team excels at aligning itself with existing staff and leadership, and can seamlessly unite seemingly at-odds strategies into a single effort.
When we came on board at B2B SaaS company, we witnessed sales and marketing competing for relevance, budget, and control. There were some big egos in the mix, and plenty of denial in the air. Some of the counterproductive behaviors we witnessed included:
The business development team pressuring sales to pipe deals that weren’t ready. In fact, business development was incentivized in a way that put them in direct competition with sales, which created a cutthroat dynamic that deprioritized the company’s overarching goals. In this environment, it was not possible to cultivate a true team mentality.
Marketing making minimal efforts to understand key sales strategies, and failing to align its campaigns and programs to those strategies. Marketing was blindly operating in a silo and did not even consider creating campaigns specifically designed to support sales goals. Marketing wanted to be in control and leading strategy, with an eye toward rolling out flashy, "next big thing" campaigns. This mentality and its sales enablement tools and assets didn’t help the sales team sell current offerings.
Sales ignoring the marketing initiatives on deck, and failing to see how they could be leveraged. This breakdown in communication meant that collaborative opportunities were overlooked and potentially profitable connections missed.
Both teams also grappled with a lead-management system that was difficult to decipher and, therefore, unhelpful to all. The CRM was a jumble, and lacking clear "rules of engagement" it was a free-for-all. No training was provided, and no agreed-upon standards were put into place. No one could agree on the right time to hand off a lead, or how a lead from an MQL could be differentiated from an SQL. It was as if the teams were trying to communicate, but each one spoke a totally different language.
Siloed departmental structure and lack of clear leadership further complicated relationships and clouded priorities. For example, marketing leadership decided on a major campaign theme without first consulting the sales team. This meant sales was unprepared to sell or position themselves effectively. The field reps had been given no tools, training, or understanding of how to sell the current product from this new campaign perspective. So although marketing was lining up leads and handing them off, the reps couldn’t do anything with those leads. This fundamental breakdown in communication and lack of collaborative strategy led to wasted time, money, and resources.
It became clear to us that getting these two teams to work together was essential. And we got to work nurturing connectivity.
Our first priorities were to develop the talent the client company already had, hire to fill in missing skill sets, and train direct reports to adopt a more collaborative mindset. To be successful, we would need to change the compensation structure to incentivize behaviors we wanted to cultivate.
Challenges included institutional resistance to change, retro-fitted departmental reporting structures, and adherence to outdated sales and marketing tactics. And complete lack of agreed-upon standardizations.
One of the biggest issues arose from the CMO’s belief that tension on the team was a "good thing," an old-school mentality of healthy competition driving performance. I fervently disagreed with this philosophy. I wanted the BDR team and field reps to be in lockstep, in the foxhole together instead of facing off from opposite trenches.
Team structures and measurable revenue-generation posed more challenges. The field reps saw no real value in the BDR team. Sales team members couldn’t fathom why business development was hired in the first place since they weren’t making a tangible contribution to the company bottom line. As is the case in companies everywhere, sales reps carry quotas and marketing experts don’t. This is a conflict-producing oppositional dynamic that shouldn’t exist.
So we got to work eradicating it.
We dug into changing the marketing team structure to align with sales needs, and merged several team roles. The existing structure of an inbound team and an outbound team for each territory was too rigid for this small company. Reassigning personnel and insisting that all reps focus on real-time territorial needs created a more efficient and effective framework.
We revised compensation structure to align my team to sales strategy. Marketing ONLY got paid when a sales rep assigned a dollar value to a deal. Since marketing team members needed deals to get piped in order to earn bonuses, there was constant tension between the two teams. To resolve this, we shifted the focus from assigned dollar values to getting appointments with buyers under a credit system. When the appointment took place, sales got credit and marketing got comped.
We grew the business development team from three to eight members, and trained everyone to steward lead management from cradle to grave.
We operationalized the sales strategy, giving the BDR team marching orders to focus on the sales goals. After examining current practices, we realized we needed a centralized plan with milestones all laid out for the in-house team to follow. We needed to provide them with the required resources and training and, finally, accountability to get it all done. We collaborated with sales operations leadership to make this possible, creating a structured step-by-step process, with goals and deadlines attached.
We fostered open lines of communication between both departments so sales could utilize the tools that marketing built. We created an environment in which the sales team could openly acknowledge that marketing was a powerful and valuable ally.
Over the course of 14 months, we created sea change in the corporate culture. The marketing department no longer saw sales as the competition. Instead, they knew that their role was to support sales and partner with them to achieve their revenue goals. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about revenue.
The changes that Launch Raven spearheaded at this B2B firm doubled conversion rates through email personalization and related tactics in first 12 months. The new goals and quotas I created for my teams drove business growth over a short span of time. And encouraging staffers in both sales and marketing to adopt inbound and outbound digital and traditional tactics to drive demand proved remarkably effective.
Internal staffers who went through this process with us emerged knowing:
How to be resilient in the face of change
How to change outdated conversational scripts and communicate more effectively
How to shift perspective on old co-workers
How to work effectively with new co-workers and revised leadership structures
How to collaborate with a shared, high-level goal in mind
How to compromise in ways that benefit the team or company, even if they’re awkward for the individual
Disparate strategies and clashing teams lead to watered-down results. At Launch Raven, we know how to create solid sales and marketing alignment in virtually any environment. And we know that doing so leads to a unified super-team capable of propelling a new startup toward massive revenue growth.