The New Alliance Between Sales and Marketing – SiriusDecisions 2011 Recap

I spent last week at the Sirius Decision Summit. As usual, it was a tremendously rewarding and informative event. This year marked the largest crowd ever for the six-year annual event. Attendees received more than their money’s worth with a mix of great content, research and end-user case studies.

The theme for this year’s event was “B-to-B Sales and Marketing – Forging a New Alliance”. The content presented by SiriusDecisions and the end-users effectively delivered on this theme.

What follow are five common threads that I picked up throughout the conference.  They underscore just how you forge a new alliance between marketing and sales.

1.  Process

Since founding The Annuitas Group in 2005, we have been speaking about the importance of lead management process, and how it affects alignment and revenue improvement.  Those who presented at the event were also believers in process.  Developing a defined process was one of the keys in transforming organizations like Iron Mountain, F5 Networks and Kronos Inc.  All of these case studies emphasized the importance of marketing and sales working in a unified fashion to develop this process. The evidence was in the presentations themselves:  marketing and sales representatives co-presented.

The key message?  Process is the key to transformation. Without it as a foundation, the ability to transform and align will not be possible

2. The Importance of Service Level Agreements (SLAs)


It struck me that as the conversation on SLAs heated up on, despite the naysayers, SLAs were seen as a way to knit the process pieces together.

SLAs were a focal point of each organization that presented, cited as a key to bringing marketing and sales together.  The speakers reminded us that service levels are bi-directional and only work if both departments collaborate on the development, measurement, and adherence to theses agreements.

3.   Change Management Takes Time

Many organizations undertake their organizational challenges with an expectation that change and organizational transformation will be immediate.  Not so say those who have gone through it.  Almost every organization that presented stated that it’s indeed a journey (a dynamic process) that does not occur overnight.  This Tweet from Meg Heuer says it all: “Even guest presenters’ success stories from #sds11 remain works-in-progress. Much done + accomplished, w/ much remaining.”

If organizational change is to “stick”, it will take time, perseverance and collaboration between marketing, sales and (most likely) others in the organization.

4.  There is a Fifth P

Most of us in marketing are very clear on the Four P’s in marketing.  At the conference, Marissa Kopec of SiriusDecisions, introduced the fifth P: Productivity.  Sales productivity is every bit as much a part of marketing’s mandate as branding and demand generation.  Making sales more productive (sales enablement) in generating revenue is now a marketing goal. This is done by enabling sales with content, and helping them to deliver it to the right segments at the right time.

5.  People Trump Technology

One of my favorite quotes from the entire conference was from Meg Heurer. She stated, “People are what fix marketing and sales problems, not technology.” Certainly technology was highlighted as an enabler, but the myth that technology is all that you need was strongly dispelled.  The message was clear: Find good partners to work with or train your people so they can handle the changing world of B2B.

The SiriusDecisions Summit continues to set the bar on solid B2B content and presenters.  If you missed it this year, be sure to mark it in your calendar for 2012.

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