The Conversation CSOs and CMOs Need to Have

By Jay Mitchell11.06.2017

While chief sales officers and chief marketing officers each have their respective teams to manage and goals to accomplish, they also must make time to manage the relationship with one another — and each other’s departments.

Why?

The growing gap between sales and marketing is becoming more than a minor issue to be ignored. In fact, B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes has cost them upwards of 10 percent or more in revenue each year (IDC). While companies that had aligned their sales and marketing teams generated 208 percent more revenue from marketing efforts alone (MarketingProfs).

Change starts with leadership. The onus rests on the CSOs and CMOs to align their departments to better serve their B2B customers — and in turn, better serve their organizations.

If CSOs and CMOs prioritize aligning their teams’ efforts, they will begin to see smoother sales cycles and more-effective marketing to support those cycles. It starts with these three key conversations.  

1. Agree on who your organization is selling to.
 

This can seem like an obvious point, but the majority of miscommunication begins at this step. Are the salespeople targeting different profiles than your marketing team? Is your marketing team creating sales assets or generating/nurturing leads for buyer roles your salespeople would never and should never engage? Even the slightest miscommunication or ideal buyer profile discrepancy can cause marketing to generate unqualified leads and ineffective content for sales, or sales to ignore leads that they should otherwise target.

The CSOs and CMOs conversation: Who are the profiles of our target buyer organizations? What are their characteristics and attributes? Who are the key buyer roles within each of these organizations? What are catalysts sales and marketing can leverage to serve (and thus engage) these targets?

2. Practice transparency and candor with goals and metrics.
 

CSOs, if you have an important sales meeting, let the CMO know. Do one better and invite the CMO to the table. Likewise, if you are a CMO and are preparing to kick off a new campaign or content initiative with your team, invite the CSO to offer his or her unique insights at the meeting.

Also get used to talking metrics that are important to both your teams and your organization. Have a standing CSO and CMO meeting where you evaluate data points like lead generation, lead-to-customer conversion rate, win-rates, average order size, etc.

The CSOs and CMOs conversation: What are our organization’s goals (remember everyone is on the same team!)? What are sales goals? How can marketing create strategies and tactics to reach those sales goals? Where are we at this month for reaching our goals and serving our customers? What changes should each of our teams make?

3. Guide and train each other on your areas of expertise.
 

CMOs and their marketing teams may have a tough time admitting that sales has insights they simply cannot know without sales’ input. Salespeople directly engage targets and customers. Sales learns what works and what does not work in the field firsthand.

On the other hand, while sales often tries to support itself with their own materials or altered marketing materials, CSOs and their sales teams often lack the trained skills or expertise to create as effective of sales support materials as the marketing team can. Sadly, the CMO Council found that salespeople are wasting upwards of 40 percent of their time doing exactly this. That is nearly two days per week! Marketing must equip sales with the right tools based on sales’ input, with the twist of expertise that marketing brings to the table for greatest success.

The CSOs and CMOs conversation: What do salespeople actually need and use with the customer? How can we better engage prospects and take them through the buying journey? Does sales know where to access the content and sales-ready assets marketing has created? Does sales know how to use these assets?

While the main conversations between CSOs and CMOs will center around their teams and their organization, remember to make time for building a deeper relationship, too. Sales and marketing teams better align when CSOs and CMOs show investment not only in the bottom line of the organization but in the individual people who make up that organization as well.

Treat your CSO or CMO as you’d treat a customer. Care about serving the other’s needs – in business and in life – and you’ll find you both will work better together to serve your customers, your teams and your organization.

Jay Mitchell founded and leads Mereo LLC, a global advisory firm that helps organizations achieve consistency, accountability and sustainable revenue performance. Reprinted with permission from Sales and Marketing Management Magazine, a leading resource for executives in the sales and marketing field.