“Marketing is Dead” and Other Thought-Provoking Statements from B2BCamp Atlanta

The vibe was noticeably relaxed at last week’s B2BCamp Atlanta event: local sales and marketing superstars gathered at Tech Village, chatting about current obstacles and recent successes at the office. With beer and pizza in hand, the scene could have been mistaken for a post-work happy hour and that is exactly the point. For Kevin O’Malley and Nate Kristy, the founders of B2BCamp, their goal is to create an “unconference” environment, where the B2B community can gather to network and collaborate on current business trends and challenges.

B2BCamp atlantaMuch like pizza and beer go hand in hand, sales and marketing are tied at the hip in driving customer engagement, so the evening’s topic of discussion was a natural fit: B2B Marketing and Sales Alignment: United or Divided?  The relaxed atmosphere soon gave way to a rapid-fire Q&A session from the evening’s panelists:

With candid questions coming from both the audience and hosts, some fresh perspectives on sales and marketing alignment were uncovered. Additionally, questions on the roles each team plays in the areas of demand generation, lead qualification and content development kept the panel busy. Here are a few of the more salient points from the panelists:

“Marketing is dead”
The easiest way to drive sales and marketing alignment is to realize that it’s no longer one versus the other. In fact, “Marketing” no longer exists on it’s own, and neither does Sales for that matter. Coined by Sangram Vajre, businesses would do better to promote “smarketing” throughout their organization, and align their organizational and leadership models to bring the two departments together under shared senior leadership.

“Friction between groups is good”
Though this may sound like a contradiction to alignment, the point is to not get so aligned that sales and marketing no longer feels the need to challenge each other. As Nathan Remmes stated, “It’s friction that sharpens the knife.” Part of successful alignment is creating a culture of respectful challenge, where both groups feel respected and safe in countering ideas, as opposed to maintaining an “us versus them” environment of finger pointing and focusing on shortcomings.

“Don’t think too highly of yourself”
True, we are all business people focused on making our company (and ourselves) successful. However, there is no doubt that a human element is also at play  and often creates the barriers for successful alignment between sales and marketing. Both sales and marketing personnel tend to have strong, success-driven personalities, and the panelists noted that sometimes you just need to drop the pretense and get the job done – together.

“Choose your pronouns wisely”
Aligning Sales and Marketing naturally leads to an enhanced team mentality, therefore, you may be tempted to change your language from “my” to “our” (i.e. “our program”or “our presentation”). However, to really be successful with alignment of sales and marketing, Lisa Cramer advises to focus less on “our” and more on “their.”  For example: “I have a great idea to support their pipeline” or “we can provide some great ideas for their deck.” Changing the internal dialogue at an organization is key to practicing what you preach.

All panelists agreed that alignment between teams continues to be difficult to achieve at organizations both large and small. However, by shifting the approach to focus not only on business aspects, but also taking into account personalities and human factors, the evolution of “smarketing” departments is increasingly closer.

Author: Kendra Hathway @KendraATL Senior Director, Strategy, ANNUITAS

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