article | December 6, 2014
Marketing Strategy Validation at Sales Kick-off
World class CMOs leverage Sales Kick-off (SKO) to generate momentum for their marketing strategy. It’s the perfect opportunity to link the marketing strategy with sales strategy.
Chances are your peer sales leader hasn’t produced a written sales strategy. As a CMO, sales kick-off is a live presentation of the sales strategy. Grab a front row seat and take notes. Be an active participant. Find 1-on-1 time with rainmaker reps, key sales managers and regional leaders. Connect the dots between sales and marketing strategy
As a B2B Chief Marketing Officer, you need to be thinking about Change Management. Marketing teams struggling to show a contribution to revenue are being undercut by lack of adoption by sales. This can be intentional, but more often than not it’s unintentional.
Your marketing team is driving quality leads to the sales force. You expect to track those leads through the CRM and prove marketing contribution to revenue. But it doesn’t happen because of sloppy sales field practices. Sales reps receive quality marketing leads and close out the lead record only to open a new opportunity. This breaks the link in the CRM from marketing to sales and kills the revenue contribution.
Sales managers who understand the marketing strategy don’t let this happen. Uninformed sales managers don’t reinforce or validate sales adoption.
The breakdown between sales and marketing can be the result of past experiences in the field.
For example, I spoke once with a sales rep at a client SKO. He shared a story involving the negative impact of a marketing campaign. The campaign involved an attractive bundling promotion. The problem was the promotion went to a customer he had recently closed a large deal. The customer forwarded the email to the rep asking for a price concession and an adjusted deal. The client’s note to the rep included the jab; “Why didn’t you offer this to me or advise me to wait a few weeks?” Needless to say the rep was furious with marketing.
These types of experiences result in sales reps adding opt-out flags to records in the CRM. Reps don’t realize some of these messages sneak through to clients because of personal email opt-ins of fake records. Regardless, reps can see marketing as causing more harm than help. The SKO is a forum for CMOs to reinforce the tie between marketing and sales. Also to hear of stories firsthand to dispel misconceptions or adapt practices.
In preparation for SKO, download SBI’s research report, “How to Increase Marketing’s Contribution to 2015 Revenue,” here.
Have the report close at hand regardless of whether you have a strong marketing strategy:
1. Validate that your Marketing Strategy is World Class
If you have a marketing strategy, take the time to confirm it’s solid. Go through the report to validate you have your bases covered. Draw parallels to your strategy and the world-class strategy. Give yourself complete confidence before walking into the SKO.
2. Prepare for the Curve Ball
Assuming your marketing strategy is lacking, be prepared. Proactively compare your marketing strategy to the best practice SBI strategy framework. Identify potential gaps and then begin developing thoughts on how to fill the gaps. Have these in your pocket so you’re not caught flat-footed. Many CMOs have been burned by a respected regional Sales Leader pointing out gaps during SKO. This will put you on the right footing to respond and act. For known gaps, leverage the SBI report to access the questions you should ask at the SKO.
Adapt to Updates in Corporate and Sales Strategies
In most companies the non-movable SKO date serves as a catalyst for major decisions. Significant sales decisions may be made right before the SKO. These decisions more often than not have impacts on the marketing strategy.
As a marketing leader in the past I received multiple curve balls at each SKO. My peer in sales would finalize major decisions within a week of the SKO. For example, I found out about an expansion into Eastern Europe that I wasn’t prepared to support. I adapted and was there to support the sales team. My past post on the 3 Mistakes CMO’s Make at Sales Kick-off includes further insights.
Take action immediately following SKO sessions. Provide your peer in sales with marketing implications from the sessions. Later, formally circle back with the Sales Leader on key implications. Leverage the SBI report to assess the questions you should ask at the SKO.
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