Historically, it has been common for the marketing and sales teams to not be on the same page within a company. The marketing team complains that sales isn’t following up on leads and salespeople complain about the lead quality and quantity. So how do you bridge this gap for maximum growth? Learn how to empower both teams in this week's episode.
INTRO: Building a great company is a marathon not a sprint. Each week Krista Ankenman and the team at TANK New Media take on growth challenges, explore technology, and interview business leaders that are always upping their game. If you're ready to build scalable systems to drive your business forward, this podcast is for you.
KRISTA: Hi, everyone. I want to welcome John Pszenny from HubSpot. He is a principal channel consultant with HubSpot working with primarily gold, platinum, and diamond partners. He's been doing that for about four years now. Prior to that he was actually sitting in a similar seat to me. He ran an inbound agency for a while with one of his colleagues that worked with attorneys. And kind of a fun fact about him as well — he has a passion project of stand-up comedy, so we'll see if he cracks any good jokes today. Welcome, John.
JOHN: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be a part of this and be working with you guys in general but, yeah. Well, thanks for setting that tone early on the, uh, jokes.
KRISTA: Just want to set those expectations high.
JOHN: Climb that from now on.
KRISTA: Well, today we're gonna be talking a little bit about the marketing and sales gap which is something that you probably see a lot working with a lot of partners at HubSpot. For those of us who don't know kind of what we're referring to, can you just talk a bit a little bit about what the marketing and sales gap is?
JOHN: Yeah, and it's a it's definitely a topic I nerd out on a lot. I actually did a whole presentation on it. There's a piece of it at this this conference I spoke at in June which is super fun. But the marketing sales gap is this systemic sort of you see it in most businesses it's to terribly quote Beauty & The Beast it's “a tale as old as time.” I hate that I just did that, but we did it. It's very it's a very common sort of pull of these if your two main departments and business of sales and marketing and there's a lot of symptoms and sort of like variables are involved that kind of causes this this chasm between the two but it's that it's that pain that folks feel in their businesses of their sales team sort of doing one thing and their marketing team being drawn to do another and them not really aligning and communicating with each other and that causing some disruption within your business.
KRISTA: So can we dive just a little bit more into kind of what causes this tension or disruption?
JOHN: Yeah, so I think there's a lot of variables involved in it. I'd say that the main ones that I see and that I like to point out to as far as like areas where we can make strides and make changes to help bridge that gap is is definitely communication between the two. That's that's probably the flagship one. It's how are we kind of creating a systemic sort of repeatable process where the two parts of the company are speaking to each other. And are they incentivized to speak to each other? That kind of dovetails into the second one which is misalignment of goals, and that kind of being a haze. Sales is here to, you know, to do bring business of the company where's marketing is really there to help attract the best quality leads and get more visibility for the company and when you say it like that, it truly does kind of make sense like, why aren't they talking to each other? They're kind of ... it sounds like they're aligned but they do usually have two different goals and the last part of it that kind of kind of digs into it a little bit, too, is budget. And sales has a much bigger budget typically whereas marketing does not, so they have to be very even though and it's it's a weird alignment on that too because you would think marketing might have a bigger budget because their job is to get and attract a large audience of people, bring them down to a point where they're qualified, and get them to sales. See, so they have a hard time being able to do that with that budget sometimes. And sales has that bigger budget to help them do what they need to do, but I'd say those are like the main the main ones where it causes sort of that that friction or the rough edges there that creates sort of that schism between the two.
KRISTA: Yeah, and just to kind of dovetail on your communication point, according to DemandGen, the 50% of marketers and sales executives agree that communication is the biggest challenge in bridging the gap between the departments. So, that's really interesting that, you know, it's just talking and understanding where each is coming from and knowing, you know, marketing is bringing a certain type of lead in, you know, does that correspond with what sales is actually looking for and can close. It seems like that's a big just misunderstanding sometimes. I don't know who needs what.
JOHN: And it's neat, too. It's something I always like to think about, too. It's very interesting and this is like a point I made in the session that I ran at this great great conference called Experience Inbound, but it was it's interesting because the two really do need each other to do their jobs really well. So, sales talks to customers all the time. They know exactly what the pain points are. They know exactly when they're talking and qualifying, who those really good fits are, and if sales were to give that information and convey it to marketing, marketing could then increase their ability to get better leads and get better qualified leads to sales. So it really is that symbiotic relationship happening but it just for some reason doesn't happen sometimes.
KRISTA: It's like they don't even think about sharing that information, you know? Just doesn't even cross their mind. So, what happens in an organization when this really doesn't get addressed?
JOHN: So, I mean, you — a number of things will happen. I mean a lot of it will ... I've seen a couple instances where it really just creates a really weird internal tension between just employees in general. Sort of a reluctance to to meet with each other. Reluctance to sort of work together. And if it's not really addressed, it just kind of continues to stray apart from each other, and that kind of obviously can affect the bottom line of your business. It also can lead to some really mismatched or weird way that your company is kind of qualifying folks and then getting them sales. Like it just becomes a more vocal battle between in the heads of those departments and the folks that are that are working underneath them and working with them. It's it just causes a lot of internal strife but then that's effectively going to hit your bottom line eventually and just kind of spiral. But it really is just kind of it slows the cogs and gears of your business to a standstill at some points.
KRISTA: Gotcha. And there's probably just really overall, you know, kind of back to your point creates just a rough experience, you know? For not only internal employees but probably, you know, the prospects that they're dealing with as well. If they're getting different messages from different departments, different communication styles that probably causes a little bit of friction there in the sales process.
JOHN: Very much so. There's misalignment and what their expectations are from the very start of working with your company or business and then they get to that situation where they're they are talking to someone a more personal level which is likely that sales rep or BDR. There it's going to be a weird experience for them and it's going to put a bad taste in their mouth and then that whole, you know, why you put all that effort into getting these folks involved and especially in this day of age of really wanting to create a personal experience and people seeking that out when they're looking to choose which business to work with or to purchase a product from, they're really looking for that personalized experience and if they're they're getting mismatched information and expectations right from the start then it's gonna cause a really hard and kind of rocky road for those people down the road.
KRISTA: Sure. So, let's go back to talking a little about some of the different roles that sales and marketing has. So, we kind of touched on it a little bit earlier, but when we think about the marketing department in their role and how that differs from sales and kind of where some of this misalignment might come into play, can you just kind of elaborate on that a little bit?
JOHN: Yeah, so I would say as far as like structure it's it's really interesting. I've seen more and more recently I have seen a sort of marriage of director of both like sort of marketing and sales and that is whether that role is sort of working or not I think I think that remains to be seen. I see at work and some I see it it not really work because again and there's like that kind of tension of where their goals are aligned but there's typically sort of a director of sales. And the HubSpot is very much like this. It's director of sales and the director of marketing whose responsibility is sort of umbrella under getting you know having more visibility for the company and really exploring the different avenues of as far as the marketing director is concerned is hey how we gaining more visibility and then getting folks through a built funnel of qualification to then get them over to the sales department. Where as the director of sales is really geared towards how can I really help, you know, meet meet the expectations and sort of bottom line of what our numbers need to be from a sales perspective to stay profitable but also to align with new products that were coming out if you're if you're a you know services company or someone's selling different products or software and like how we're gaining — how our qualifying — those people from them coming in from marketing to make sure that we're able to continue the you know the machine going. From there typically you'll have in sales departments like you have BDRs who are business development representatives who are sort of there to take those initial folks from the marketing funnel to sort of qualify them a little bit more, do kind of cold outreach, and then you have like your general sort of, you know, kind of depending on your company makeup it will kind of gear out into larger enterprise account sales reps, folks who are focused on smaller accounts. And the same sort of thing for marketing. It kind of branches but into — okay — depending on what you know marketing avenues you're exploring — social, paid — that kind of stuff.
KRISTA: So, we talked a little bit about how each department kind of got its own goals, kind of has its own, you know, expectations they're trying to hit within their own departments. How do we keep each department accountable for their own pieces and how do we make that kind of come together in the middle?
JOHN: Yeah, that's a great question. So, I think I think a lot of it comes down to helping each of the teams sort of recognize that they need each other. Kind of going back to my point on like, hey, you know marketing would be augmented very much so if sales were kind of regularly updating them on, you know, what are what are folks pain points — their top qualified leads that are now customers — what are their pain points? What did they talk about? What are they using? What do they need? If that was regularly kind of communicated to them, then marketing could — it'll enable marketing to help with creating content that's gonna help qualify leads more because again it kind of goes back to that point on marketing and having a lower budget they need to attract a large group of people and funnel them down. If sales were to give them information to help them really specifically target and use that money wisely, marketing could create content to then help sales close their leads in a more efficient manner and a quicker manner so that that is sort of, hey, there living together so that's that's definitely a part of it. As far as like other ways you could sort of bridge that gap and fix it, having a consistent meeting schedule.
KRISTA: I was just gonna ask that. If you would recommend setting up those meetings, yeah.
JOHN: Having like whether that's I've seen people try different ways of doing it so they'll have I've seen some folks do like a full kind of company-wide like, hey, sales and marketing are going to sit sit together and give feedback and talk about programmatic changes and things like that but they'll also have a meeting where the the sort of directors of the two departments will talk with each other and they'll have kind of an internal meeting with, hey, marketing the team will give and have enabled the director to sort of champion their initiatives same vice-versa for sales and then they'll kind of meet together to kind of talk about the nuts and bolts of it but I really do think it the if you are a company right now you're feeling like hey some of this applies to me, the best thing you can do the first step is getting getting folks consistently meeting and having sort of communication happening between the two.
KRISTA: Gotcha. Do you think it's important for them to kind of agree upon what that ideal prospect is?
JOHN: Has to be. Definitely. It needs to be an initiative of both, it can't just be a sales says this, marketing says this — it needs to be a marriage of the two and a good example of that is you know HubSpots like buyer personas. That should be something that is discussed by both teams because that is gonna paint the most accurate picture because marketing has their data they can look at the nuts and bolts of how someone came in but sales has that more personal touch of, hey, this is you know what person X was saying their pain point was and we noticed that a lot with a bunch of different really high qualified leads. Uh, it has to be a marriage of the two because it's gonna paint the most accurate picture for you.
KRISTA: I see. So, one, another kind of interesting stat here so we think about how this really improves companies overall improves their efficiency. Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing team and marketing functions enjoy 36 percent higher customer retention rate. It's not something that, you know, you've kind of noticed across the board as well?
JOHN: Yeah, assuming that is very much that's a stat sort of HubSpot looks at very much. It's a way we structure and kind of make choices towards, yeah, how should we be making changes in structure to our services department? What should they be, you know, doing to help support those both of those teams based on their needs? But across the board there is no there's no negative effect of those two teams talking. They have to coexist with each other. Like it's their only it's only a benefit. It's really just it comes down to like marketing having a goal X and sales having, you know, I have to close X amount of deals and them sort of being lost in their own worlds and not not talking with each other enough but it really it's only a benefit to your company.
KRISTA: Sure. So, if you had to give any tips around kind of facilitating better communication, what might you say?
JOHN: So, I think I think the the start of it is you need you need to start meeting on a regular cadence like have something where your team, you know, some good baby steps to have this happen because it's not going to happen overnight is to get both teams used to the idea of meeting and communicating. Start with start with matching up one sales rep and one marketing rep to meet together. They don't have to be director level; just have some one-on-ones kind of start to happen between those two teams so that they get kind of used to the idea of, hey, let's give feedback to each other. And having a regular cadence of sales and marketing meetings where marketing can communicate and share a content calendar and sales can give feedback on that content calendar so that we know, hey, this is really optimized to be the best that it could be. Have this sort of a regular cadence on, hey, maybe marketing sends out an email every quarter that gives sales some insight into what that content calendar is going to be, so like asking and having sales being able to ask questions like: who's the content being created for? What buyer persona is it appealing to? What type of asset is it — is a blog post and infographic? So, just again like kind of tying it back, getting that regular meeting cadence. Some of the other ones I would probably suggest is having a document that is like an SLA so an agreed upon definitions and responsibilities. So, like a good way HubSpot does this and a way I've helped some of my partner's create this process is by having sort of an Excel sheet whether it's, you know, something like that goes through all the lifecycle stages and sales stages of a client and then talks about, hey, is marketing responsible for this stage as sales responsible but now it's an agreed upon it is a documented file so that it's visible it's transparent transparent to everyone and it's agreed upon by sales and marketing as far as who's responsible for what.
JOHN: The final two would be creating visibility between your marketing sales team. So, a good way of doing this that HubSpot does is to ensure that sales can kind of easily find an access content that marketing makes, at HubSpot we use like a content library. We also have like if you're using Slack as a company have a shared Slack channel between the two where marketing can kind of post, hey, here's our plans for these things; sales can communicate and ask questions there. But that's a really good way to sort of take steps to create visibility. And then the final one would be scalability so having, you know, starting with the baby steps of those one-on-one meetings between sales and marketing. Starting to grow those into bigger meetings and then deciding, hey, do we want to make possibly make other roles that are going to help build a bridge this gap such as like a director of lead generation who is kind of a marriage between the two, still having your directives of other departments but starting to plan for scale — how are we going to increase sort of this communication and working together?
KRISTA: And I would think something like an SLA would help when you're adding team members so they can see clearly what their responsibilities are, who's kind of agreed to what and what their expectations of their position should be.
JOHN: Very much so. Yeah.
KRISTA: Definitely. Well, awesome. Well thanks, John, for joining us today. Is there any final closing thoughts before we let you get back to work?
JOHN: Thank you so much for having me. This is always fun. Always happy to come back. You ... as you can tell I nerd out on this stuff. I was trying to find like think of a funny joke throughout so that I could meet all of my kind of bio expectations. But I'd say if there's anything, I would suggest you know you listen to this podcast; you leave here today you want to you know there's a lot of content in this and there's something you want to sort start take steps to do. It would be number one when you write a new article whether you're the agency owner like a company owner whatever the case may be, have your marketing team or whoever's writing that article start to get used to like making a bullet point list depicting why a specific prospect would find that content beneficial because now you're making it — you're helping sales like — so sales all the time like they're gonna be focused on doing what you hired them to do is selling so how can you make it easier for them to be able to respond and give feedback to marketing help marketing create better content so that it creates that better sort of closed-loop. Have a have a bullet point of like, hey, who buyer — what buyer persona is this for? Why is it valuable? What is it about? So that sales can reference that really quickly and use those in possible sales conversations so that would be a really good quick win. Number two is to set up a meeting between one marketing rep and one sales rep and have them sort of talk together and give feedback to each other and then final one would be to audit your content library and make a centralized location for where that stored so it's a little bit more transparent and visible for your for your company.
KRISTA: Awesome. Great. I love those quick wins. As always, it makes you feel good when you can go out and get something done right away.
JOHN: Easy turnaround ones.
KRISTA: Definitely. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, John, for joining us today.
JOHN: Thank you so much for having me.
KRISTA: Follow us on social media at MFG Growth Show.
Co-founder & VP, Client Services
Krista also has more than a decade of professional experience under her belt. Her expertise lies in graphic design, project management, and digital marketing for both high-profile and growing businesses. Currently, she functions as the VP of Client Services and lead strategist.
Building a great company is a marathon, not a sprint. Each week Krista Ankenman and her team at TANK New Media take on growth challenges, explore technology, and interview business leaders dedicated to growing better through continuous improvement. If you’re ready to build repeatable and scalable systems to drive your business forward, this podcast is for you.
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