Marketing Tech: Not Just for Marketers

The training I received early in my career, both formal and informal, spoke in absolutes: marketing creates opportunities for the sales engine to sell, and sales sells. Those absolutes have changed as marketing tech has fundamentally transformed the marketing-sales partnership for the better. Funnel, pipeline and revenue conversations between marketing and sales is the new normal, and companies are better for it.

Ten years ago, few would have argued that marketing automation platforms were needed. But what explains the speed with which they were adopted? Revenue and ROI are the golden standards of power and influence in any company. As marketing resources became hell bent on getting as close to revenue and ROI as possible, the rate of adoption of marketing automation tools increased exponentially. Marketing was tired of being an “indirect” influencer, and thus their thought leaders poured their creative juices into revenue attribution. The march of marketing further down the funnel plays out on a daily basis with new approaches and technical innovations.

So, what about sales? As a sales leader, I could argue that sales is also transforming on a number of fronts; the automation and targeting used by sales development representatives, new sales methodologies, artificial intelligence etc. But truth be told, if someone were trying to sell me on the sales transformation argument, I’d have a hard time buying it — the examples above are simply slight turns off of a well-worn path, especially when compared to the fundamental shifts we’re seeing in marketing.

An article I recently shared on LinkedIn highlights a thoughtful approach to redefining BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline) qualification through the eyes of the educated buyer accentuates my point; it was a great article, but I’ve got to question whether I’m truly doing my part to give my team, my company, and my network a competitive advantage if that’s my transformational contribution.

I’m not sure what constitutes an “expert” in sales, but I don’t consider myself one. As a newcomer to SaaS I’m further reminded that there are so many talented sales leaders out there that would be completely justified in ignoring everything I have to say on any sales-related topic. With that in mind, I’m going to simply share my hypothesis, and outline the steps I’m taking to get back into the fast lane of sales innovation. I ask for anyone who stumbles upon my pontifications to share their take with hopes that I can find the edge that my marketing colleagues have embraced in recent years, and start acting like the transformational sales leader I aspire to be.

My hypothesis:

In the next 10–20 years, discerning between marketing and sales functions will be nearly impossible. Both functions will have tools and insights, KPIs, and compensation that span the entire funnel. Said differently, the down-funnel move by marketing will correspond with an up-funnel move by sales, with sales caring more about origination of leads and playing a major, direct role in channel selection and execution. Tech is dramatically simplifying the funnel and corresponding metrics, making it far more approachable for all functions, but especially for front-line sales managers who have one of the most difficult and time-constrained roles in any company.

My actions:

First, I’m digging in on all things innovative in the marketing function. There’s some serious positive mojo these days in martech, and as marketing moves down the funnel, their fresh take on how to create an expedited journey from lead to closed-won is stretching my thinking.

Secondly, I’m looking at traditionally marketing-led functions (e.g., events) and finding ways for sales to engage with and lead those functions on a small scale. Since I work for an event marketing company, Event Farm, I’m a bit biased — but when events are a snap to setup and mechanisms are in place to hold sales accountable, the sales team can apply their expertise at events in a much more targeted way.

Imagine being able to spend just the right amount of time engaging with existing customers, near-term opportunities, and prospects at each event to maximize results based on your company’s unique funnel metrics and pipeline. Even better, what if all of the data automatically tied back to your systems of record (CRM, Marketing Automation, etc.), leaving your sales team with less data transfer and more targeted sales touches? I am no longer asking sales managers what they expect to get out of an event; instead, I’m asking what’s preventing them from hosting more events.

Lastly, I’m reaching out to my marketing, operations and sales colleagues because I know I’m not the only one who is coming to the conclusion that sales needs an innovative shot in the arm.

What’s your take? If I don’t hear back I’ll take as tacit approval that I’m on the right track.