- Silos exist across organizations everywhere, between Marketing & IT, Human Resources, Customer Service and Sales.
- Breaking down silos between Marketing and Sales increases collaboration, reduces duplicated effort, leverages expertise and creates consistency.
- To break down silos, departments must change how they operate, with endorsement from the top of the org chart.
- There are many opportunities to collaborate across Marketing and Sales, specifically: personas, customer journey mapping, brand development, content creation, experimentation and feedback on lead generation.
- Learn six tips for successfully integrating Marketing & Sales.
Charity of the Week:
We hope you want to join us on our journey. Find us on IterativeMarketing.net, the hub for the methodology and community. Email us at [email protected], follow us on twitter at @iter8ive or join The Iterative Marketing Community LinkedIn group.
The Iterative Marketing Podcast is a production of Brilliant Metrics, a consultancy helping brands and agencies rid the world of marketing waste.
Onward and upward!
Steve Robinson: Hello, Iterative Marketers! Welcome to the Iterative Marketing Podcast, where each week, we give marketers and entrepreneurs actionable ideas, techniques and examples to improve your marketing results. If you want notes and links to the resources discussed on the show, sign up to get them emailed to you each week at iterativemarketing.net. There, you’ll also find the Iterative Marketing blog and our community LinkedIn group, where you can share ideas and ask questions of your fellow Iterative Marketers. Now, let’s dive into the show!
Hello everyone, and welcome to the Iterative Marketing podcast. I am Steve Robinson, and I am your host. And with me, as always, is the unflappable and tenacious, Elizabeth Earin. How are you doing today, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth Earin: I am good. How are you, Steve?
Steve Robinson: I am doing well. My goal is to completely throw you with one of these introductions one of these days.
Elizabeth Earin: You are doing a pretty good job. Every week, I am so surprised by the things that you say. I need to write them down.
Steve Robinson: You never knew you had so many attributes.
Elizabeth Earin: I did not, I did not.
Steve Robinson: So what are we talking about today?
Elizabeth Earin: Today, we are talking about breaking down silos within the organization.
Steve Robinson: Wonderful. And when we talk about silos, we are not just – we are going to kind of use sales as the silo that we are talking about throughout the whole podcast, but really, silos between marketing and other departments exist all over the place, right?
Elizabeth Earin: They do. You have got silos between marketing and IT. There are silos between marketing and HR. Silos between marketing and customer service. Really anywhere that marketing is interacting with other departments, there is the potential of a silo occurring.
Steve Robinson: Yeah, and this is where you see a lot of the turf wars or conflict or breakdowns in communication.
Elizabeth Earin: And unfortunately, when we have those, a lot of times it extends to a breakdown in the customer experience, and that’s why it’s so important that we address them.
Steve Robinson: So what are some of the benefits of breaking down these silos?
Elizabeth Earin: I think one of the first and foremost is increased collaboration, kind of the mentality that two minds are better than one. When we get someone together who is an expert in their field and we are an expert in our field, what we can accomplish together is much greater than what we can accomplish on our own.
Steve Robinson: I think it also helps clarify goals and make sure that we are looking at the big picture, because often we are mired – in marketing, we are mired into our outlook on how to improve demand generation and improve the brand, but how that connects to other departments’ goals, and specifically sales, is sometimes lost if they are not at the table and we are not collaborating, and then we are operating within our silo.
Elizabeth Earin: That’s very true. I think another benefit of breaking down silos is we have a tendency to reduce our duplication of efforts. When we are working sort of on our own, away from everyone else, we do things a certain way. And a lot of times, that another department also has their own process and their own way of doing things which, when we get together, we realize, wait a minute, we are both doing the same thing here and that’s not a good use of either one of our times.
Steve Robinson: That kind of leads into another point is that recognizing those duplications of efforts will be a whole lot easier if information is transferred more easily between the two departments. We often don’t know what the other is doing, and because of that, those duplications exist and information sort of sits in a silo on one side that would really be beneficial to the other.
Elizabeth Earin: Definitely, and that I think also leads into one of the other benefits and that is when we share information, we get some better insight into expertise across the organization. And when we know the information that people have and what they are good at doing, that can be leveraged across the entire organization rather than just living in our departments.
Steve Robinson: I guess it’s different for every single organization, but when I think about it, a lot of times these silos crop up for a number of consistent reasons, right? I know in the organizations I worked in, one of the key contributors is competing for resources. So there’s a finite — there is fixed budget, marketing gets given one budget, sales gets given another and then there’s that kind of a gray area in between that’s kind of up for grabs, and that can always cause some conflict and really, really drop the wall between the two departments.
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. I actually have no personal experience with this. I worked for an organization who — there was a set marketing budget and each budget year, when it came time to do budget planning, marketing and sales were pitted against each other, almost in like a marketing survivor type format of who is going to get control of what portion of the budget, and it really brought out this us versus them mentality, which is crazy when you think about we are both working towards the same goal.
Steve Robinson: Yeah, absolutely, and it’s just the way that the org chart has been structured that you end up with these artificial budget barriers that don’t necessarily make sense when you look at the combined objective. I think there’s also a problem in how we are measured, right? Because sales is really held accountable to their numbers. Day in and day out, it’s at the individual level. Are you hitting quota? And then at the department level, are they hitting goal? And it’s easy to measure the success of a sales team because it translates out to revenue, whereas marketing is often not tasked with nearly as exact delivery.
Steve Robinson: Or any delivery at all. Unfortunately, a lot of times, marketing gets looked at as this touchy-feely department, and how do you measure — how do you measure that? And so a lot of times, it’s a matter of, did you stay within budget or not? And there really isn’t any sort of alignment with what did you accomplish with those budget numbers? And so rightly so, sales, there’s a little bit of animosity between sales and marketing.
Steve Robinson: I think another source of that animosity, though, is also recognitions. So, who is responsible for this revenue, right? We all want to feel like we are important. We all want to feel like we are contributing, and unfortunately, that can come out in some of the worst ways when we are trying to explain to ourselves and to our superiors what we were able to accomplish. And so, is marketing responsible for the increase in revenue this quarter or was that just sales going out and hustling more, right?
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah, and that’s anytime you ask that question in mixed company with sales and marketing, it turns into a very heated debate very quickly.
Steve Robinson: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. What else do sales and marketing have a tendency to compete for?
Elizabeth Earin: I think one of the big things is there’s this lack of understanding on what each department does and how they not only — in what they are responsible for, but how they go about doing that. Marketing and sales are approaching, again, a very similar goal of driving additional revenue for the business in very different ways, and so not understanding kind of how those processes work and how the other person operates sort of within their realm, I think that leads to some of those silos as well.
Steve Robinson: Absolutely. Well, I think now would be a great time for us to take a quick break and talk about how we can help some people.
Elizabeth Earin: Before we continue, I’d like to take a quick moment to ask you Iterative Marketers a small but meaningful favor and ask that you give a few dollars to a charity that’s important to one of our own. This week’s charitable cause was sent in by Kara Buffardi of Craveity Marketing in Austin, Texas. Kara asks that you make a contribution to Food Link, an organization that collects over 30,000 pounds of fresh produce, meat, dairy, bread and other prepared foods that would have otherwise been thrown away and distributes them to food pantries, senior centers and other social service organizations. Learn more at foodlinkma.org or visit the link in the show notes. If you would like to submit your cause for consideration for our next podcast, please visit iterativemarketing.net/podcast and click the “Share a Cause” button. We love sharing causes that are important to you.
Steve Robinson: Welcome back. So before the break, we talked about some symptoms of silos, we talked about why they occur and some of the benefits of getting past them. But now let’s actually get in the meat of how do we do that, how do we break these silos down so that we can reap some of those benefits.
Elizabeth Earin: First and foremost, we have to have buy-in or endorsement from the top. It doesn’t matter if we get together with our counterparts on the sales side and decide that we want to change the culture. It’s something that really has to be driven from the top, or at least supported by the top.
Steve Robinson: If leadership isn’t aware of this effort of collaboration, then they are going to continue to hold the two departments up to separate yardsticks and continue to set up scenarios where the competition is right for where there’s a competition for claiming responsibility for successes and dodging failure, I guess.
Elizabeth Earin: So when we look at ourselves and what we can do to help drive this change, it kind of breaks out into two areas. The first is being collaborative and the second is being accountable. And I think we’ll start by diving into being collaborative. Steve, do you have any advice on how marketing can get the ball rolling with sales?
Steve Robinson: I think the most important thing is to make sure that you are inviting sales to the table early and often anytime that you are making decisions or documenting things that are going to impact them and that touch their world, right?
Elizabeth Earin: I think that’s a great point, and to your point, the earlier you bring them in, the better. With that being said, it’s easy to say this, but what does that practical application look like? Where do we have opportunities to do that in the Iterative Marketing methodology?
Steve Robinson: This is one of the things I love about Iterative Marketing is actually the opportunities are rife within Iterative Marketing to get sales involved at the table and really create that. And I hate the words marketing department where you are bringing both together to achieve that common goal, and the first part is really within the first three of the actionable components. We talk about brand, we talk about persona, we talk about buyer’s journey, and all three of those getting sales involved is important because, from a brand standpoint, they are the first touch of anybody coming in who is new to your brand, your organization. They are going to interact with sales first, and so sales represents their brand experience at that beginning touch point. If marketing’s version of the brand is different from sales’ versions of the brand, then you are going to immediately create some dissonance in that journey and that’s not going to bode out — it’s going to play out poorly on the other end of that sales process. So you are going to want to make sure that they are involved in understanding what the brand of the organization is so that they can be living it, and that means getting them not only to — not dictating it to them, but also getting them involved in defining it on the front end. How does it play out with personas?
Elizabeth Earin: I think it’s interesting, because we can do all of the research that we want in marketing. We can look at industry research. We can look at our demographic information. We can check out the website behaviors. There’s a lot of places that we can pull information from. We can even do customer surveys, which are extremely insightful. I mean, we are hearing from the customer first hand, but nothing compares to what the sales team can bring to the table, especially in terms of persona development. They are in the trenches. They are talking to people every single day and they are hearing what they are saying out loud, but they also are observing those things that they are not saying. Those other motivations may be driving them or maybe holding back the sale, and so persona development without the sales team is an ineffective exercise, and that’s what it becomes. It’s an exercise, whereas when you involve your sales team, you get them to come to the table, provide some basic feedback, take what they have given you, draft a persona that they can then come in and sort of tear apart and let you know if it feels right or wrong. That when you do that, you know that you actually have a persona that is in line. And when you can get – when you can walk into a room — I have done this and this feeling is amazing. When you walk into a room and your sales team says, yes, this is our customer right here, that is an amazing feeling.
Steve Robinson: And the best part is if they have been involved from the beginning and this was a document that they collaborated on, they take it and run with it, too. They start using the personas in their own sales meetings and in their own internal planning. And when they get someone on the phone, they are trying to figure out, okay, which persona is it that I am talking to right now? And then it actually becomes a tool for them to improve their own sales efforts, so personas can be a beautiful thing when sales is involved from the beginning and then on the tail end as well and they can use that tool within their own work.
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah, when they are involved, they are engaged and it takes on this new power because, now, to your point, not only are they using it, but they are coming back to you, proactively coming back to you and saying, “I don’t think the persona of Tom feels quite right.” Based on my experience, I have seen this. And so again, that you have got someone who is frontline with your customers who is coming back and letting you know if this is right or not, and that feedback and that insight that they are providing just helps to make your upcoming programs that much stronger and that much more targeted. That applies over to the customer journey as well. Again, I cannot imagine doing customer journey documentation without having your sales team involved. And I think one of the keys to really making this be a process that works is you do not want to come to the table with your customer journey already filled out and ask sales to let you know if it feels right because we, as marketing, we’re not in there every single day. And if you are with a company or organization that encourages marketing to get out in the field and experience what the sales team has experienced, that’s great, but you are still not in there every day. You still aren’t having all of those touch points that our sales team is having, and so getting them involved very early on in the process is vital to having an accurate customer journey documented.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. And they really understand the different stages, the different places where a prospect’s mind is going to be at different stages within that customer journey. So getting that from them on the front end is helpful, and then likewise, turning this document back over to them. I have heard of sales teams taking the brand, the persona and the customer journey, and this becomes really a key component in onboarding new talent, right? Because now you can hand them, Hey, this is who we are and this is where our prospect is and this is our process and this is how marketing and sales work together to close more business. And you are handing all of that to them in a very concise, easy-to-use documentation. And it can really help sales and marketing, I guess, when it comes to onboarding new talent.
Elizabeth Earin: In addition to that one, once — when you have had sales help with your brand, your persona and your customer journey development, that leads into the next opportunity and that’s the content creation. And I think this is another one of those key opportunities. I’d love to say this is the place that sales can really help, but honestly, as we are walking through this process, sales has fabulous input at each one of these steps.
Steve Robinson: Yeah, content is a little bit different in every organization, and this really is dependent on the culture of that organization. I have worked with organizations where the sales team is all about creating content and they become a huge asset to marketing as far as generating blog posts and ideas for infographics and other fabulous content that can be used for both marketing and sales purposes. And I have worked for other organizations where sales becomes that thought leader or that expert that you go out and you interview to get that information. Particularly if they are more technical sales, they can really help in understanding not only the features and benefits of the product but how those relate back to the audience and what the audience needs or wants at each stage in the customer journey, as you said earlier, from that that softer side.
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. And the key is, again, to just, again, involve them early in the process and let them be involved in that content creation. With that being said, we want to make sure that we are setting them up for success. And so to do that, we want to make sure that they have that persona that we developed and they have that customer journey and it’s accessible to them and they can refer back to that so that they are creating content that’s aligned with our overall strategy, the bigger picture.
Steve Robinson: Another point that comes to mind where sales can be involved if you are implementing Iterative Marketing is actually at the experimentation phase. Remember one of the key differences between just conversion rate optimization and Iterative Marketing is that we don’t focus on just improving program performance. We also want to generate insights and generate a clearer picture of our target audience, our personas, along the way. And if you involve sales in the front end of that of asking what question — where are we most unsure about our target audience? Where do we have an opportunity to learn? Where, if marketing learned something, can sales apply it to close more deals? Asking that on the front end can really generate some great questions for where to probe within the marketing program to improve the performance over time.
Elizabeth Earin: And again, you may have to help them bridge that gap a little bit of what they want to know and what experiment will help uncover that, but definitely another great resource for planning experiments that are going to give you some great insights.
Steve Robinson: What about feedback? Because we produce a lot of — we are producing leads, we are producing content, we are doing a lot of work. How do we get that feedback from sales on whether or not we are helping them?
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah, we need to ask them. I mean it’s as simple as that: We need to ask them. We need to ask what is the quality of the demand that we are generating for you? How are we helping or hurting your ability to close sales? What should we keep doing? What should we stop doing? Getting feedback in terms of what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong allows us to make tweaks and changes so that we are better supporting the sales team and helping that organization out overall to meet our goals of increasing revenue, and it’s not just on the sales side.
Steve Robinson: Because we can see in our analytics. We can see the percentage of people that landed on this web page and converted. We can see whether or not our messages are improving our overall brand awareness, but what we can’t see is when a particular message actually killed a sale. We can’t see when other messages became the reason that somebody picked up the phone and called the salesperson. That sort of information is blind to us, and yes, it’s anecdotal, but it’s extremely helpful in knowing where we want to work to optimize, where we need to test something because maybe it’s hurting us or maybe that is the key to success. And we can only apply more of that elsewhere and test that same idea elsewhere within our marketing programs.
Elizabeth Earin: Well, to your point, it’s anecdotal but you never know when that anecdotal feedback can that be turned into an upcoming experiment.
Steve Robinson: Absolutely, absolutely. The other thing I think that’s really important is if you are in a lead generation type of marketing department, you can’t just shovel these leads over to the other side. You need to do two things: First of all, you need to get upfront — you need to get understanding from sales as to what is a qualified lead and then do your best to make sure that you are setting up these leads on paper to be the type of leads that sales wants, right? And then you define that as your marketing qualified lead. But then also, you need to get feedback for the leads that you do shovel over the fence to sales. You need to get feedback on every single one of those as to whether or not that was a good lead, right? Because now you have taken what could be qualitative, and well, we need them to look like this and be at the size of company, right? Now you have quantitative data on every single lead and whether or not this was a good lead to them or not, and you can do that in an automated manner through the CRM system. You can do that in a paper-based manner. Honestly, it’s not that big of a volume, right? Now you can feed that back in your systems and you can know that these lead generation efforts generated high quality leads whereas these lead generation efforts may have generated a great quantity, but they were crummy when they got over to the sales team.
Elizabeth Earin: So we have outlined some different ways to increase collaboration between the departments, but I think it’s important that we take sort of a step to the side for a moment here and talk about that. We need to be the ones taking the first steps. We need to be reaching out to sales and we need to put ourselves in their shoes, kind of almost to the point like we are creating a persona for sales. We need to understand what their short-term goals are and how we can help to support that. We need to understand what their pain points are and how we can take that into account so that we are not making their life harder than it already is or more complicated, and also understanding the sales challenges at the strategic level so that we can help to keep their prospects engaged at certain stages in the cycle or they may be having some issues.
Steve Robinson: Exactly. The key is that we need to be asking the questions because sales has not been trained to volunteer this information. They may have been trained to the contrary. And so by reaching the hand out first, we accomplished that goal. It’s also important that they feel heard. So not only are we taking the value that they are able to bring our processes, our systems, but we are making sure that they feel like they have been heard and that we are partners in this journey, right?
Elizabeth Earin: And taking that a step further, we need to be responsive because it’s great that we are asking for their feedback and we are asking for their input, but if we don’t do anything where we don’t follow through with what they have given us, then it’s – we are actually in a worse place than if we had never asked at all. So we need to make sure that we are responsive to the information that they are giving us.
Steve Robinson: And that may mean a little bit of conflict, because sometimes what they give you might not align with your picture of how this process should work. I know that when we have worked with sales and marketing organizations, often times there is a very different world view there, and there is some reconciliation that has to occur early in that world view. And the good news is that we have found that working through particularly personas and customer journeys actually aligns that worldview significantly on both sides. Marketing begins to understand the sales world and sales begin to understand marketing’s world in a way that really allows the two departments to move forward hand-in-hand. But it’s not — it’s not easy and there is some conflict and confusion along the way.
Elizabeth Earin: So we just sort of summed up how being collaborative can help to break down those silos, but I think there’s another area that marketing can really focus on to help break down the silo between marketing and sales, and that comes down to accountability.
Steve Robinson: Absolutely, because sales is held accountable to those top-line results. They are really held accountable to hitting those numbers every single month, whereas marketing is usually not as much. It’s important that we come to the table with our own numbers and really hold ourselves accountable if it’s not coming down from above.
Elizabeth Earin: And I think there’s two opportunities to hold ourselves accountable. The first, we sort of touched on earlier and we have hit on previous podcasts, but it’s aligning marketing to revenue or at least coming as close as we are able to.
Steve Robinson: Yeah. And that really is dependent on setting up those KPIs and getting to the point where you are able to predict the revenue that you are contributing to bringing in the door, and positioning it as contributing to bringing in the door is probably also important when you are talking about having sales at the table because you are only half of that equation.
Elizabeth Earin: Very valid point. I think one of the other areas that we can be accountable, especially when we don’t have that direct tie to revenue, is talking about our long-term investments and reporting on our long-term assets. And I think this is really important because it demonstrates to the organization how we are spending our money and it’s helping them to show sort of how we are priming the pump for future sales and future activities. And one thing we want to keep in mind is, again, sales is really focused on that short-term sale. Their metrics are all aligned to short-term metrics whereas our long-term assets are just as they sound, they are long term. And so it’s our job to help sales understand the logic behind why this is so important and how it’s going to contribute to their sales maybe not tomorrow but definitely down the road.
Steve Robinson: And I think it helps to clarify, when we are talking about those long-term assets, we are talking about things like SEO and building up a content library and things like our cookie pools and those things that aren’t going to contribute today but will contribute in the future, right? It’s also important that we are held accountable to the work that we deliver to sales. So the leads that we generate and making sure that we are holding ourselves accountable to delivering a high quality or standard to those leads as it’s perceived by the sales team, right?
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. I think this is one of the places when you jump onto some of the marketing forums and discussion boards, this is a common theme. And marketing says they are delivering sales and – I am sorry, marketing says they are delivering leads and sales doesn’t disagree with that. They are giving them leads, but they are not qualified leads and sales can’t do anything with that. And so really, having that understanding of what a qualified lead is and then making sure that marketing is followed through and providing that to sales, that’s another way that we can help strengthen that relationship and break down –
Steve Robinson: So, as we have talked to everything in this podcast, at a couple points, it struck me that it sounded almost as if we are positioning marketing subservient to sales or marketing below sales, and I want to make sure that our audience understands that that’s really not where we are coming from here. Sales and marketing are peers and they are not always treated as such by a lot of organizations, but the reality is that they are. And we are both on the same team and we are both contributing to producing results, and there are other components of Iterative Marketing that really do help level that a bit and bring marketing to the table as a leader within the organization. And I think that that’s one of the undertones, I guess, to Iterative Marketing is helping to propel marketing to that leadership role.
Elizabeth Earin: Yeah. I think that’s a great point and I kind of have that same feeling as we were talking through. I think it’s important, too, to note that the questions that we are asking of sales and bringing sales to the table and involving them in activities that have primarily, in the past, been marketing based, we are giving ourselves just yet another tool to make better, smarter decisions in the future. And to your point of Iterative Marketing really supports this in that we are positioning marketing as being that insight generator and really making contributions that extend beyond the sales department into the entire organization.
Steve Robinson: So I think that pretty much wraps it up for this week. Next week, we are going to introduce the idea of brand vectors in a way to actually measure your brand beyond just awareness numbers in a way that is concrete and quantifiable. But until then, I want to thank everybody for giving us a piece of your time today and encourage you all to join us next week. And in the meantime, onward and upward!
If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the podcast on YouTube on your favorite podcast directory. If you want notes and links to resources discussed on the show, sign up to get them emailed to you each week at iterativemarketing.net. There, you’ll also find the Iterative Marketing blog and our community LinkedIn group where you can share ideas and ask questions of your fellow Iterative Marketers. You can also follow us on Twitter. Our username is @iter8ive or email us at [email protected]
The Iterative Marketing Podcast is a production of Brilliant Metrics, a consultancy helping brands and agencies rid the world of marketing waste. Our producer is Heather Ohlman with transcription assistance from Emily Bechtel. Our music is by SeaStock Audio, Music Production and Sound Design. You can check them out at seastockaudio.com. We will see you next week. Until then, onward and upward!