We've all experienced it, the seemingly non-stop battle between sales and marketing teams arguing over the lead quality and questioning the efforts of the opposing team. Sales and marketing teams have traditionally butted heads, when they should really be working together. When your sales and marketing teams work together, you can write better content, generate higher quality leads and lower the cost of customer acquisition.

On this week's episode of MSPradio, we chat with Jeanne Hopkins, Chief Marketing Officer at Continuum and Mark Zahar, VP of Channel Sales at Continuum, to discuss the importance of sales and marketing alignment and how to make it work for your business.


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Episode Transcription:

Nate:                       All right welcome back folks to another episode of MSP Radio. As always I am your host Nate Teplow and its Sales Lead Management week here on the SLMA radio network; it’s obviously the network that we broadcast on so we are going to celebrate sales lead management this week with a special episode talking about sales lead management.

                                    Before we get into it I would like to remind you to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes if you search for MSP Radio you can subscribe there and get episode straight to your iTunes account. We are also available via the Stitcher App for android users and a number of other podcasting apps so look for us there.

                                    Follow us on Twitter using the handle at follow continuum and you can let us know what you think of the radio show with the hashtag MSP radio.

                                    So as I mentioned in honor of Sales Lead Management Week, where going to be talking about sales lead management right here on MSP Radio and I am joined here right now by Mark Zahar. He was a previous guest here on MSP Radio but he is with me here today. He is the VP of channel sales here at Continuum; Mark how is it going today?

Mark:                       Fantastic Nate thanks for having me again!

Nate:                       Absolutely, it’s great to have you back on the show. We will be joined by Jeanne Hopkins who is chief marketing officer here at Continuum in our 2nd segment.

                                   But I’ve got Mark here and obviously we’re talking about sales lead management here. And it’s a pretty interesting structure here that we have here at Continuum in that you had a new partner acquisition right? But yet you are part of the marketing team. You are not on the sales side so tell us a little bit about why that make sense for you and highlight some of the benefits.

Mark:                       Sure. Yeah I think it is… I don’t know if it is common or uncommon but what we do here at Continuum is I work very closely with the marketing team. And the reason why I do that, when you look at traditional organizations, you’ve got sales on kind of one side of the fence and marketing on the other so I like to say it’s more of a tug-of-war; so who is responsible for what, who is blaming who for what.

                                   And what I mean by that is marketing traditionally would develop leads, they would send them over to sales, sales would say, “These are awful and terrible and we are not going to work these.” So marketing would spend a tremendous amount of money. Salespeople would start to follow up and then not follow up and then that’s what would happen all the time.

                                    So with Jeanne Hopkins here who is a big believer in really Manage by Analysis if you will, we kind of bundle the 2 groups together. So we work really closely together today and what we do is marketing works very hard at generating these quality, we can call them leads and those leads are at different levels. But I work hand-in-hand with marketing so they will deliver certain people to me, me and my team will follow up on that information and instead of a tug-of-war or pointing fingers, we work hand-in-hand and we talk about who are the people that we are going after, who is coming to our site and engaging with us, what are their needs and are we able to sell them?

                                    And what we have proven is having this relationship would benefit us in a lot of ways. Sales is getting great content, great leads from marketing. Marketing is able to determine where the best leads are coming from so we can find more look-alikes.

                                    So the more, with this model, it’s more of a handshake and they have requirements of me that I have to get this information followed up appropriately but I also work with them to say, “Look are we finding the right people and are they ready to buy?” So it’s not a us versus them. It’s we and it’s a process that’s work you really, really well.

Nate:                       Yeah and we are all tied to the same goals and we are on the same team. Marketing has a number on our heads and we are responsible for driving our revenue number…

Mark:                       Which is uncommon when you think about the marketing; so when you look at traditional marketing organizations, they are responsible, I think Jeanne would say arts and crafts with you guys also is that right? – Arts and crafts which are building great booths and great signage. But when it comes to the science around sales and marketing or Smarketing, it’s all about again what is the journey that we want a customer to take and what’s the demand generation engine that’s going to drive that consumer to interact with Continuum in our case? And then where does an account executive or the new business team pick that up?

                                    And as we said earlier, we talk a lot about content development but every piece of content is tied to revenues and we build stuff as you know Nate, we are looking at what’s the contribution to revenue. And I think that’s the difference of a Smarketing organization where marketing is building great content but they know down to the individual piece level what did it drive for revenue for this organization?

Nate:                       [05:02 inaudible].

Mark:                       Exactly.

Nate:                       Yeah and it’s about closing that looked at analyzing leads all the way through so marketing is it just saying, “Hey in sales we delivered 50 leads to you this month,” like good for us great job but it’s how are these leads? Where are they converting what are their needs? How can he push them farther down the pipeline?

Mark:                       Yeah. Again when we get… If we get a lead, not every lead is created equal. You’ve got certain levels of a lead and I don’t want to say it’s ABC but you can call it ABC and just because it’s a C doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. It’s better than not having anything at all. It’s just there… Are they ready to buy? And the closer they are to that buy process.

                                   So somebody comes to our site and says, “I want a demo,” that’s a really good lead versus somebody that says, “I am really interested in a white paper.” So the fact that they are raising their hand you could say is a great thing. It’s just are the ready to buy within this quarter or next quarter? So that’s how we look at things.

Nate:                       Yeah, absolutely. So this is a little bit different system as you said is a little uncommon.

Mark:                       Very.

Nate:                       And I think it takes a certain person both on the marketing side and also on the sales side. So what do you look for typically in one of your account executives or as a new customer, salesperson, what kind of characteristics you look for that person?

Mark:                       Well I think when you look at salespeople, and I have hired hundreds of them, everybody would say they’ve got their own special sauce. A lot of people would say, “I hire the athlete,” or “the captain of the football team.” I have hired them all.

                                   The people that I find that work really, really well are people that have created something from scratch or something that doesn’t exist and it’s the only way I can convey that.

                                   And what I mean by that, so as an example, somebody that goes to a college and does like the tours of the campus. People that are comfortable talking to people about the school typically those kids are the most passionate about what they do. So they’re a good representation of the school, they are passionate and you translate that into a business, they want to help people, they want to be part of a team. They care, you can’t teach people who care. Those are some of the attributes that I look for in a great salesperson because in the world of Smarketing, they need to have some own self discipline but they are part of a team now. It’s no lone Wolf as much anymore.

                                    As part of the sales and marketing team, they are working with content developers, they are part of the content strategy, they are trying to understand the buyer journey. That’s what I look for versus the kid that’s the Lacrosse captain doesn’t make you a great leader, doesn’t mean you are able to teach people as much. Historically I have seen a lot of captains are the top scorers, those are the top scorers.

                                    The great captain to me is; get an average player or not so average player and make it a great player, that to me, that’s a captain.

Nate:                       Yeah.

Mark:                       That’s a great account executive, that’s a great salesperson because the reality is you’re not going to win every game. You have to constantly figure out how to get better but more importantly got to work within your team to figure out what you need to do to change. And so when you look at it that way it all goes back to the way we do things when we talk about every piece of content is tracked, everything that we do from the sales and marketing perspective is tracked down to the activity level, the conversation level, the deal level and then we back track it all the way back to where did it come from and why are we successful?

Nate:                       Yeah, exactly. Well we’ve got to take a quick commercial break here on MSP Radio. Again we’re talking about sales lead management as the special Sales Lead Management Week.

                                    Coming up next we continue talking with Mark and we are joined by our chief marketing officer Jeanne Hopkins to talk a little bit more about our teams structure and how the process we’ve gone through at Continuum to align ourselves and the marketing team. So we will see you all in a few minutes after this quick commercial break.


Nate:                       All right welcome back folks from our commercial break, you are here on MSP Radio. I am your host Nate Teplow and we are talking with Jeanne Hopkins and Mark Zahar.

                                    Jeanne is our chief marketing officer here at Continuum and Mark is the VP of channel sales. They head up our new partner acquisition and our marketing teams here at Continuum and we’re talking about sales and marketing alignment and how important it is to company success.

                                    So during the commercial break we were just talking a little bit about making marketing people salespeople and Jeanne you had some good points, I was hoping you could share that with our audience just how important it is to be a salesperson even if you are on the marketing team.

Jeanne:                  I think that a lot of people don’t realize what a difficult job sales is and I would ask every marketing person to spend some time either carrying the bag, making some cold calls, trying to understand how hard it is to get up every single day, put your socks and your shoes on and start picking up that phone because it is a very, very difficult job and you have to develop a very thick skin to be able to take rejection like that on a regular basis. And the hardest thing is the consistency, keeping the consistency and the cadence to be able to realize that when you are building your pipeline that it’s building, building, building and that it becomes an annuity for you and this is something Mark talks about all the time, is that activity just does not happen at any one single point in time. It’s a culmination of a lot of activity over a longer period of time in terms of building your overall pipeline.

                                    A good marketer in my estimation really has got some experience in sales and it can be… We are all selling. I mean ultimately that’s what we are doing but if you have ever been forced to carry a quota for example, you can really put yourself in the salesperson’s shoes and it is… People particularly in marketing are very quick to say that salespeople aren’t doing their jobs. And marketers are very… And salespeople are very quick to say that marketers don’t have a clue.

                                   And I have to say that I think that salespeople in this case are pretty right; that marketers really don’t have a clue. And I suggest that in order to be a really good marketer if you are trying to create demand, you’ve got to figure out what makes the salesperson successful and in order to do that you have to do drive alongs, you have to listen to their sales policy, you have to start participating in a [12:23 Call Bullets] for example.

                                    When I was asked Hub Spot, I suggested this concept of a [12:28 Call Bullet] so that everybody in the marketing and sales organization would spend like a Thursday for one hour just calling. Now calling leads and following up on them and boy, was it a wake-up call for a lot of those marketing people – realizing that people don’t always answer their phone; the people that do answer their phone therefore you are surprised and you’re trying to have somewhat of an intelligent conversation and you’ve got to look at the lease source, you’ve got to figure out what’s going on and try to carry on the conversation and you can end up doing 40 dials over the course of that one hour and maybe have one conversation. So in essence you had 39 rejections over the course of 60 minutes.

                                    If you’ve been slapped in the face that many times, multiply that by 8, multiply that again by 5 and then you have a sense of what the salesperson goes through.

Nate:                       Yeah and it’s the same on the flip side, I think it is important for salespeople to understand the marketing process and that they are kind of an extension of the buying process, not “this person is ready for the sales team, they are ready to talk to the sales guy” but it is an extension of the education process that a prospect goes through in the buying process.

Mark:                       Again, it’s not a tug-of-war aim, it’s gone.

Nate:                       Right.

Mark:                       It’s more of… It’s a Spartan race; we are all helping each other over the wall.

Nate:                       Yeah.

Mark:                       And that’s the only way I can explain it where you have to respect everybody that participates on part of the team, everybody has a role, everybody understands we are here for revenue, let’s be smart about it and utilize our resources properly from a lead scoring. If somebody is ready to buy, you know what those signals are. If they are not ready to buy, how do we use content and technology to nurture that process until they are ready to buy? And all we are looking to do is increase our efficiency because if you only have one salesperson or 10 salespeople through technology, through the phone, we can constantly be building a funnel until people are ready to buy and that’s where sales and marketing truly comes together.

Nate:                       Yeah, absolutely. So I wanted to such on tools a little bit. Obviously this is all… It sounds great but you kind of need the tools in place to make sure you are reporting on the right metrics, you are communicating between the 2 organizations, different teams, potentially different locations. What are some of the tools that we use on our team or tools that you have used in the past that are very useful when it comes to the sales and marketing alignment?

Jeanne:                  Oh, we use Hub Spot, that’s our marketing platform of choice because it is fully integrated with our CRM salesforce.com. We used chat program right now we just switched chat programs to go to a different one to be able to take that as inbound. And I think a lot of that has to do with the building of the dashboards.

                                   And more importantly, I believe it’s the consistent use of our sales organization in terms of using Salesforce and within that we have Click to Call so it allows us to be able to track that and our instance of hub spot because it’s a fully fleshed out marketing platform and allows us to do email nurturing all of our email programs so that in the lead itself we can see all the different touches that have been made to that lead and be able to figure out what the source of that lead is because everything that’s coming in and everything that’s being rotated down to the sales organization.

Mark:                       Right, the history of that record through their journey with us is track.

Jeanne:                  Right.

Mark:                       And so if you look at the journey of the individual from a marketing whether the hit our website, the open some content the download is some material through a salesperson calling them everything is tracked, everything is scored. There are dashboards. So again we are looking at that information again, not your critique but to look for opportunities for improvement right. So we do work with hub spot. We do work with Salesforce or other things but it’s really the blend of everything that allows us to pull it all together.

                                    Now I would also say, I wouldn’t let that stop you if you were a smaller company, you don’t have all of these tools. You still need to determine what you can effectively measure and report on to have success and I wouldn’t let that stop. I always go back to… I did not have tools maybe when I first started I use ACT, a Salesforce system way back when and that did not have all the bells and whistles but it gave me enough of a head start to do some of the things I needed to do.

Jeanne:                  It was a CRM.

Mark:                       Exactly. So I think we are fortunate that we have phenomenal tools that are integrated. But for some people that don’t have those I still think you can determine what you need to measure. How do you determine if you are succeeding and build a plan around that.

Nate:                       Yeah. So what are some good things to start tracking? I mean I know we live in the sales and marketing world so we take some things for granted. But if I am an MSP, what are some of the good things I should start tracking in terms of sales and marketing metrics?

Jeanne:                  So I think I would start at the top. How many visits to your website do you have? And do you know where those visits are coming from? So that to me would be, you could run a free Google analytics program to be able to take a look at that and I would look at that on a regular basis.

                                    Then I would say, do you have a form on your website? Do you have a form where somebody’s actually filling out information requesting something or if they are calling you, if they are making a telephone call to you, are you capturing how many inbound calls you have? Because that to me is a conversion. And so lots of times the phone will ring and if it goes to the front desk or something, is somebody actually tracking that information and putting that into a CRM?

                                    Yes I’ll make sure that Nate calls you back but your name, your telephone, your email. So the size of your database and how many names you are adding to that database, the number of form conversions that you have.

                                    So let’s just say you have 1000 visits to your website over a month which may be on the high side. So I’m just going to use 1000. You get 100 conversions at that point so in that conversions you have 100 names to be able to call. My question is, how many times are those 100 names touched? – And so I’m going to turn over to you sir.

Mark:                       Better be a lot! And that’s a good point. There are a lot of metrics out there that, that would be somebody 8 to 12 times on that individual. So you if you have 100 people, you’re looking at 800 to 1200 attempts to get them. And that’s a lot!

Jeanne:                  Just to respond!

Nate:                       Right.

Mark:                       Just to get the conversation...

Jeanne:                  Right, right.

Nate:                       … That they initiated!

Jeanne:                  Well and the other thing is, there are often times somebody has raised their hand and said, “I have a problem,” and if you don’t respond within a very short timeframe…

Mark:                       30 minutes I hope.

Jeanne:                  30 minutes.

Mark:                       30 minutes.

Jeanne:                  If you can’t respond within 30 minutes you are going to be trying an awfully long time to get back in touch with that person.

Mark:                       Well again, put yourself in any perspective. When you have a problem and you reach out to somebody like I have a problem, a half hour, probably seems like a long time!

Nate:                       Right.

Mark:                       And that’s what we use…

Jeanne:                  Why don’t they call me back?!

Nate:                       … Ideally you’re looking for within minutes. The best guys are doing it within minutes.

Jeanne:                  Yes.

Mark:                       Really, when you have a problem…

Nate:                       And they are not just sitting there waiting. They are probably going to go to somebody else looking for a solution.

Mark:                       They have a list!

Nate:                       Yeah.

Mark:                       They are like, “The first guy gets back to me gets the deal.”

Jeanne:                  That’s true.

Mark:                       And that’s… I say 30 minutes. For our team, it’s still not good enough…

Nate:                       Yeah.

Mark:                       … But I’m trying to be realistic but the sooner… When somebody has got a need, especially the people that we talked to, if they are getting a referral I call it, somebody has got a broken leg, they need a doctor.

Jeanne:                  Right.

Mark:                       And if they are reaching out, they need a surgeon now!

Nate:                       Yeah.

Mark:                       And the first surgeon that picks up that phone call gets the deal.

Nate:                       Right. Cool. So we’ve talked about sales and marketing alignment, how we’ve done it on our team. How long does it take to get this going? I mean is not something you can just flip a switch and you’re good to go. How long does it take to actually establish this process and start to see some results?

Jeanne:                  Well I joined the company 13 months ago and I think we are at the point now where we are finally getting our stride, 13 months later. And it’s not for lack of trying, I was lucky enough to have Mark on my team when I joined the company so being able to redeploy him into a different area where his superpowers could be better utilized. I hired you 11 months ago Nate and that was a fantastic hire!

                                    And you think about how you approach the blog and how you worked on the blog and how you started building up the cadence of the blog and getting the calls to action on the black and everything and the other team members that have come on board since then, I mean it took a long time to be able to build the team! It’s taken a very, very long time to kind of get that synergy going and the company is always evolving and it is always changing and priorities change and budgets change and it’s painful, especially when you are in a high growth organization.

                                    And it’s been pretty frustrating for me as a manager because you just want to waive that magic wand and say, “Okay, let’s make this all work.” And I think you can speak to it because so much of it has been process and training.

Mark:                       Right.

Jeanne:                  Because you have been training the organization Mark.

Mark:                       I think there are several buckets. There are demand generation buckets where you have to build content that drives that interest. And then you have to take a step back I guess well before you build the content, just understand the buying journey. Then we want to make sure that we deliver a great experience for that journey right. So we have to explain all this stuff the people and what you want to see happen is then put it all in place. And I know from a sales perspective, we are constantly training. We have to and not only about our products but about the sales process and about the needs and it’s all about providing, I like to say it’s about providing value at every single touch point. It is not… If you are calling a prospect or a customer for that touch base phone call you are dead. It’s not about that. If you are not providing value at every step along the way, whether it’s a marketing… Marketing material or a phone call, it’s a waste.

Jeanne:                  When people call you up to say, “Are you ready to buy yet? Are you ready to buy? You ready to buy? You ready to buy?” That’s not the point. We are you adding value? It’s being able to have a conversation that says, “6 months ago you had mentioned that this was important to you. Is it still important to you and how can I help you be able to solve that particular problem that you have?” And being able to… Most sales organizations do not follow up on a continuous basis.

                                    2 nights ago I was in a CMO meeting and I talked about the average number of touches and somebody said, “Our marketing organization doesn’t want us to send too many emails because they are afraid of people unsubscribing.” I am like, “Really?!” So if they unsubscribe, are they going to be buying?

                                    So if you send them less, don’t you want to weed them off your list and not waste your sales organizations time? I mean in a B2B technology environment it’s like to me, it’s like get them off your list! You want to figure out who is interested in you! It’s very easy to unsubscribe, very simple in any email program. And I’m looking at these people and when you talk about it at 12 touches and on average around the room, the average number of touches was 3 or less, 3 or less! And they are wondering why it’s not working!

Nate:                       Right.

Jeanne:                  And it’s crazy!

Nate:                       Yeah.

Mark:                       We’ve even had people who have raised their hand and said, “I am ready now to buy,” and they are not ready to buy.

Jeanne:                  Okay. That’s a good one.

Mark:                       All right, so they even think that they are ready, they say that they are ready…                

Jeanne:                  Here’s my card!

Mark:                       … They start to engage and then they are not ready. I am a big believer in the Challenger Sales Process and to sell properly I have to know might customer very, very well. I have to understand areas that are going to make them a little uncomfortable and provide value and push them to make the hard decisions; not to sell my product but to get them to do the right things.

Jeanne:                  And you bring up a good point because you don’t want a customer that has a pulse. Just because you have a pulse and you can sign an agreement does not mean that you are a good customer for us because we don’t want you to churn.

Mark:                       Right.

Jeanne:                  That’s not good.

Mark:                       Yeah.

Jeanne:                  There is huge costs associated with bringing on a new customer and on boarding them. We don’t want to incur those costs and then have them have zero lifetime value.

Mark:                       Right.

Jeanne:                  So a lot of what you do, you call it FANT, not BANT.

Mark:                       Right, FANT, that’s correct. So everything we do, again from our perspective we want to make sure “F”, is fit; are we talking to the right people about the right things? Like that’s “F”. “A”, are we authority? Are we talking to the right people in the organizations? And “N” obviously is needed. And need isn’t, “I am curious about what you do.” A need is for our business, do they have the products that they need to be successful? Do they have enough techs to grow their business? So we get very specific with what we are talking about.

                                   And then what’s their Timeframe? Again I was a developer way back when. So believe it or not…

Jeanne:                  Can you imagine that!

Nate:                       I certainly cannot.

Mark:                       … I was not always a sales guy. And being labeled a sales guy, I don’t like. And the reason why I say that, I mean I like to bring revenue for the organization but more importantly I like to help people solve a problem. And that’s what’s really important to me. If you can have somebody solve a problem, you are not a salesperson anymore because salespeople most times we would run from them. We don’t like them, they don’t provide any value.

                                    So that’s how I like to structure every organization that I am in; you better be providing value, you better not be selling. If you are providing value you are selling indirectly and the deal is going to close itself.

Nate:                       Yeah, I think that’s a great point. I mean it’s all about providing value all the way through and closing the loop. It’s not just passing leads from one place to another but it’s really about continuation of the lead process and feeding back information to the marketing team just in terms of how to provide better leads for you.

                                    Well Jeanne and Mark, thank you very much for joining me here today on MSP Radio today.

Jeanne:                  And happy SLMA week, whoo!

Nate:                       Yes, absolutely.

Mark:                       Excellent.

Nate:                       Thank you to our radio network, the SLMA radio network and I hope you all enjoyed our episode, a special episode for the sales lead management special week so thanks for tuning into MSP Radio and we will see you all next week.

Jeanne:                  Yay!