12 Signs That Sales Needs to Worry About Marketing

Sales and Marketing Alignment - Danger Signs to Watch For

In a blog post from 2013 that still holds up, Jason Lemkin, a co-founder of EchoSign (acquired by Adobe) and lead at SaaStr wrote about mistakes many startups make (and that Enterprise companies could learn from) when hiring their first head of marketing in going for a brand-focused corporate marketer from an “established” brand instead of a revenue-focused demand marketer. Lemkin says:

 “I know so many SaaS start-ups that go to hire a head of marketing. And they hire someone with a seemingly strong resume, from a strong tech leader. And they hire someone who is really Corporate Marketing. That hire fails. And leaves you with nothing to remember him/her but some nice blue pens with your logo on them.”

This transcends SaaS or tech companies though, as the more interesting quote was this one about how larger companies view demand:

“In the Fortune 500, sometimes Demand Gen folks are second-class citizens … They may not be as into the squishy parts of marketing. Demand Gen folks are all about the numbers. Spend $Y, create Z leads, that should be worth 5 x $Y in revenue. So sometimes, their blue pens are not as pretty … Demand Gen folks can hack Corporate Marketing. Corporate Marketing cannot hack Demand Gen. Ever.

Large companies need leads too … any salesperson can tell you that. But if you are working in sales, how do you know if that charismatic CMO with the amazing pedigree really and truly understands demand marketing? They might be knocking it out of the park when it comes to corporate or brand marketing, but did they cut corners when considering the demand part of the equation?

Large companies need leads too … any salesperson can tell you that. But if you are working in sales, how do you know if that charismatic CMO with the amazing pedigree really and truly understands Demand Generation?

How does the head of sales know when they need to worry about marketing? Here are twelve signs to look for:

Lots of events, with booth scans as the success measurement
Events can be great, but they’re expensive. How many of us have struggled with the “should we get a booth again at XYZ?” question, when the answer should be obvious when you consider that 99.9% of last year’s 700 booth scans were from titles and companies that will never, ever buy from you. The problem is not with the events themselves … the problem is with booth traffic/badge scans being the de facto measure of success.

Content creation predominantly focused on brochures, fact sheets and product/feature-centric white papers
Does your new white paper look (and sound) a lot like the last one? Is most of your content teams’ effort focused on potential buyers that are already engaged? If product marketing is taking the lead on deciding the content strategy, it is likely going to be focused on your products. This is not to say that you don’t need that kind of content, but the best content models pay a significant amount of attention to the priorities and pains of the buyer at the earliest stages of their journey. If you don’t have any content focused on helping the buyer think about the implications of the problems they are facing, it is going to be hard to convince them to do anything to solve those problems. And if you are not creating content that will be helpful to a buyer regardless of whether they purchase from you, you run the risk of not earning the trust of that buyer. If they don’t trust you, you won’t be invited to the party when they decide to act.

If you don’t have any content focused on helping the buyer think about the implications of the problems they are facing, it is going to be hard to convince them to do anything to solve those problems.

No set process for handing off leads to sales, no SLAs in place for lead management
To put it bluntly, if your marketers are not holding the sales team accountable for what happens to a lead after it is delivered to them then you need to wonder if they are invested in driving pipeline and revenue. Ongoing optimization of programs is vital to maintaining the efficacy of your demand marketing. If marketing is not asking “why” when a lead doesn’t get followed up, or gets rejected, they are not committed to ongoing improvement of their programs.

Lead “feast or famine,” inconsistent lead flow punctuated with occasional surges based on campaigns or events
The best demand programs are perpetual, and should be delivering a steady stream of sales-ready leads to your reps. If lead distribution relies heavily on your latest one-off campaign or event, then you need to evaluate the performance of your marketing teams.

Downloads, impressions, shares, followers and likes are considered “metrics for success”
The only volume-based metrics that the best demand marketers care about are all based on money. If return on marketing investment and marketing contribution to pipeline (or revenue!) are not in the quarterly reports then sales needs to challenge marketing about metrics. Contribution to pipeline and revenue are the KPIs that matter, so if your marketing team is focused on downloads, clicks or shares it could mean one of two things: either all this marketing activity is not driving pipeline/revenue or marketing has no idea if it is driving pipeline/revenue. You are in trouble either way.

If lead distribution relies heavily on your latest one-off campaign or event, then you need to evaluate the performance of your marketing teams.

Large volume of one-off email campaigns
Do you have a buyer-driven nurture program in place? Does it adapt and change based on buyer behaviors? If your outbound is dominated by one-off emails promoting webinars or “special offers” you could be doing more damage than good. Periodic high-volume email sends can damage your deliverability and your reputation. You probably also have high unsubscribe and bounce rates since you are only sending large email blasts a few times a quarter…not to mention the fact that your marketing automation platform just became an extremely high-priced email service.

Marketing buys a lot of lists
If marketing needs to hit their numbers of “qualified leads” through regular list purchases, you have a problem. This is not to be confused with list rentals, because any reputable publication or service you might rent from takes great care in maintaining their lists and ensuring that anyone receiving their emails has opted in appropriately. Buying emails outright is just asking for trouble.

Your data is bad
Demand marketers understand that they can live and die by the quality of their data. They know when to remove an individual from email sends, and they take great care in ensuring that they have as much information as possible to intelligently segment the database for effective nurture and analysis. If there are no standards in place for creating new records and keeping them clean, your database will degrade much faster than you think.

Planning for campaigns doesn’t go end-to-end
What happens after you hit “send,” or after the event? How will sales know where the lead came from, and will they have the information they need to have a compelling conversation with a lead when it gets handed off to them? Will we be able to tie pipeline and revenue contribution to these campaigns? Don’t be afraid to ask marketing “what happens next?”

While it is important to educate people about the features and benefits of your offerings, if they can’t tie these to the needs of every buyer on the committee at each stage of their buyer’s journey then it is unlikely the buyer will respond.

Marketing has never approached sales to discuss buyer personas, lead scoring, target accounts, or lead management
How much work has marketing done to really understand the buyer? Are they invested in open communications with sales to understand all the members of the buying committee, and what their pains and priorities are? Do they understand the firmographics of the companies that are most likely to buy, and have these firmographics (along with any behavior-based activities) made their way into your lead scoring model? While it is important to educate people about the features and benefits of your offerings, if they can’t tie these to the needs of every buyer on the committee at each stage of their buyer’s journey then it is unlikely the buyer will respond.

Large pay-per-click budgets, dominated by ads pointing to the home page
Is Google your highest monthly marketing spend? Are all your ads brand-centric, pointing to the home page? Most importantly, are the leads any good? Effective demand marketing via PPC can still boast a pretty big Google invoice at the end of the month, but the pros do it differently. Ads for buyer-focused and relevant content offers sit behind bespoke landing pages, and every dollar spent is recorded and later tied to pipeline and revenue. When it comes to a clear chain of custody, it’s hard to beat PPC as an easily measured source of leads, pipeline and revenue. As long as you close the loop, that is.

It’s not the size of the technology stack, it’s how they use it
When marketing leadership is investing in marketing technology without clear expectations on how the disparate pieces will work together to support a revenue-focused strategy, there is cause for concern. If increased investment in technology specifically designed to impact demand generation or revenue performance (think ABM, AI, Predictive Analytics, etc.) does not bring a commensurate rise in pipeline and revenue driven by marketing, then your marketing team may have a case of “shiny object syndrome” characterized by increased investment in new technologies without a developed plan on how they will influence marketing KPIs.

Just because your marketing leader is good at brand marketing, product marketing, or PR it doesn’t mean they are good at creating Strategic Demand. What are they doing about it? Are they surrounding themselves with demand marketers, or are they trying to “hack it?” Need help assessing the strengths of your marketing efforts? Let’s Connect.

Help Us Serve You Better

Let us know a little about yourself to gain access to more resources relevant to your specific role and needs

To Continue Reading...

More Great Content
Sales and Marketing Misalignment
How To Align Sales & Marketing Teams

Achieving true sales and marketing alignment is about more than holding the occasional meeting or si...


Read More

Build the Business Case and Find the Budget for Digital Demand Transformation

To support their efforts, many marketing organizations run email campaigns, sponsor events, and purc...


Read More

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash
ANNUITAS Case Study: Travel Leaders Group

In the age of TripAdvisor, Expedia and other self-service travel sites, most millennials and other y...


Read More