Ed. Note: Jennifer OBrien has developed a successful revenue marketing process that enables tight alignment between the sales and marketing teams at Egencia. Egencia is a division of Expedia that provides corporate travel services. We are honored to publish Jennifer’s article because it shows four critical areas to develop alignment between marketing and sales departments. And this isn’t just based on textbook theory. Jennifer has led her team with a successful alignment process that is supported with both marketing automation and CRM.
Four Must-Follow Steps to Align Marketing and Sales
In September 2010 my company, Egencia, Expedia’s B2B corporate travel service, decided to take the leap from an email management system to marketing automation. It was a change management process and a cultural mind shift as to how our teams reach out to prospective clients. While at times it was a bit painful, the end results have been amazing: It has taught marketers how to take accountability for the quality of leads they bring in the door, and it has also challenged sales people to assist in the marketing process by providing the right message to the right person at the right time.
Smart marketing is not new in concept, but it’s a new era where marketing and sales can’t point the proverbial finger at each other – we’re embracing that we’re all in this together for the betterment of the business. In my experience, there have been four “must follow” steps we’ve learned over the past year to help marketing and sales get on the same page.
- Leadership alignment: You need to get your sales and marketing leaders onboard immediately. If sales can’t see the marketing vision and marketing can’t support the sales goals, nobody is going to be willing to shift behavior. I was lucky early this year to have new sales leaders in place that understood the world of marketing was changing. It was a chance to literally sit at the same table and agree on how we will support each other. My marketing managers were no longer interested in being “email monkeys” – batch and blasting the database with no real results. On the other side of the table, the sales teams were experts about their pipeline and knew where the different leads were in the buying cycle. It was time to elevate the entire organization.
- Communicate the benefits: As with any change management process, you’re going to be met with resistance. New tools, new ways of doing things and new responsibilities are challenging when you’re trying to just do your “day job.” By communicating the benefits of marketing automation – transparency, automation, personalization and segmentation – both the marketing and sales leaders could keep their eyes on the ball.
- Refine productivity: Once you’ve created new processes using new tools, constantly refine and audit what’s working. It’s not just a technical process to make sure that the assets are compelling and the functionality is correct, it’s a people process – ask the sales team if they’ve seen an uptick in activity. Ask the sales team if they have greater insights into the demographics and the digital body language of their leads – “the buy signs”. Lastly, ask that marketing manager whose job description was “sending email” if they feel more strategic and marketable in the ever-competitive pool of marketing talent.
- Learn from your successes … and failures: One of my sales directors has said, “Fail with style, fail with grace, get up, and keep on going. Sales must work with their marketing partners to get the leads and campaigns that work.” If you acknowledge and course correct when something doesn’t work, there is greater trust amongst the sales and marketing organizations. And, if something works – celebrate it! We’ve learned that even the small wins can lead the teams to work better together. We’ve created a culture where marketing now has sales team members coming to us with new ideas on marketing programs. That reciprocation and willingness to work together makes everyone’s “day jobs” much more fun and rewarding.
Read more about Egencia’s journey with marketing automation in this case study: http://www.marketo.com/library/egencia-case-study.pdf
Questions? Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or on Twitter @Egencia_Jen.
About Jennifer O’Brien
Jennifer O’Brien is the Director of North America Marketing for Egencia, the B2B arm of Expedia, Inc. She is responsible for setting the marketing strategy, coordinating cross-team collaboration, and managing all channels that lead the company’s demand generation efforts and customer retention strategies.
While at Egencia, Jennifer has spearheaded the launch of a marketing automation program to support the entire customer lifecycle. This effort has helped the marketing team contribute measurable results during the sales cycle. It has also improved communications and reach for the company’s customer relationship marketing.
Prior to Egencia, Jennifer was the Marketing Director for HomeTeam, an award-winning “cause” reality television show. She has also held several marketing and PR jobs with interactive marketing companies such as MindOH!, Luminant Worldwide and Free Range Media.