Sales and Marketing Align at Revenue Summit

March 6, 2017 Mark Emmons

This week’s Revenue Summit conference will feature 50 sponsors, 85-plus speakers, about 2,000 attendees and . . . some cats and dogs? Well, at least there was one idea to bring some of those four-legged friends to the sales-and-marketing show.

Why?

“Because cats and dogs traditionally don’t get along,” explained Nikki Nixon, one of the event organizers.

You know, sort of like marketers and salespeople.

Revenue Summit, which is being held Tuesday and Wednesday in San Francisco, brings together those two famously squabbling tribes. The idea is that business has irreversibly changed and that sales and marketing teams must be real partners in this new, emerging world. The Civil War must end, once and for all.

“We’re all beginning to realize there are no longer any silos, and the importance of working together is greater than ever before,” added Nixon, the director of #FlipMyFunnel. “It’s almost like when you were a kid and your parents made you play in the same room with your brother or sister. It was like, ‘Get along. I don’t want to hear any more nonsense.’ That’s what it’s like for sales and marketing today. They have to work together. It’s not a choice.”

Nixon and Max Altschuler, the founder and CEO of Sales Hacker, had both come to that same conclusion last year. They were talking at the Dreamforce conference about finding a way to stage something that would appeal both to #FlipMyFunnel’s Account-Based Marketing community and to Sales Hacker’s audience. It turned out that both organizations were already trying to book the Pier 27 site on the same week for their own separate events.

“So we decided that this was clearly meant to be,” Nixon added. “We merged our proposals together.”

A lasting alliance between sales and marketing seems destined as well. Historically, the two teams have been more likely to angrily point fingers at one another rather than shake hands. It has always been an uneasy relationship. But the rise of account-based strategies, which require hand-and-glove cooperation between the departments, has begun to chip away at their historical differences.

Christine Maxey, the director of enterprise solutions at LeanData jokes that it used to be that the only time sales wanted anything to do with marketing was “to get cool tchotchkes and T-shirts.” But times have changed.

“Think how much more powerful you can be when you join forces,” said Maxey, who will be participating in one of the Revenue Summit panel discussions. “The line between sales and marketing is just gray now. It’s simply not two different groups anymore. Alignment isn’t just a lofty ideal. You need to be aligned at the execution level. You really, really have to be aligned.”

Matt Heinz, the president of Heinz Marketing, said he was recently talking to a sales leader who told him that marketers who are fixated on MQLs as their primary goal simply don’t understand what it means to be synchronized with the sales team. While that might be a bold statement, Heinz added, it’s also true.

“The sales team’s goals are the marketing team’s goals, period,” said Heinz, who is a featured Revenue Summit speaker. “The better these organizations are aligned, the more likely they’ll achieve and exceed their revenue targets.”

ABM recently has been one of the hot trends as more businesses embrace a strategy of concentrating their efforts on select target accounts that have a greater likelihood of becoming customers. #FlipMyFunnel, which was founded by Terminus Chief Marketing Officer Sangram Vajre, has been on the leading edge of the movement. But while that account-based approach is relatively new to marketers, enterprise sales teams always have been focused on accounts rather than individual leads.

So it makes sense that sales and marketing should now reach a mutual understanding.

Revenue Summit is also a fitting name for the conference. Revenue is what both teams seek. And this represents something of a peace summit.

“I hope we see more events where sales and marketing are gathering together to solve common problems,” Heinz said. “Sales doesn’t need to know how Facebook ads work, and marketing might not care about optimizing comp plans. But ideally, these two organizations share the same objective, the same metrics, and the same strategies.”

#FlipMyFunnel is known for some silly antics. (After all, they’re marketers.) At past conferences, they’ve staged “Lead Graveyards” — complete with tombstones — to symbolize the passing of outdated, MQL-centric thinking.

That helps explain the notion of having cats and dog at Revenue Summit. There will be some canines, courtesy of Rocket Dog Rescue. Alas, organizers couldn’t come up with felines on short notice. So maybe next year there will be a cats-and-dogs theme, Nixon said. But more importantly, marketers and salespeople will be rubbing elbows this week.

“The concept is they need to be in the same room,” she added. “That’s the best way to really drive alignment. We’re just doing it on a really big scale.”

About the Author

Mark Emmons

Mark Emmons is the staff writer at LeanData. He previously was a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at mark@leandatainc.com.

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