GTM Teams

Engineered Serendipity: Marketing and Sales Alignment made easy

Recently, my friend Sam moved to a home near the Indianapolis airport. When I was helping her move, I was shocked by how loud the airplanes flying overhead were, but decided not to mention it. When I went back to their home for dinner six months later, I finally asked, “How do you stand all of this noise?” She and her husband looked shocked and I feared that I had offended them. Sam replied, “To be honest, we don’t even notice the sound.” Which led me to wonder: 

How many problems have we become desensitized to because we have been exposed to them for so long?

For many years now, there has been one pain plaguing go-to-market (GTM) teams more than all of the others: the lack of sales and marketing alignment.

Having stood up ABM as a marketer, worked selling ABM as an Account Executive, and having consulted with various companies on sales and marketing alignment, I believe that there are three different phases of where companies often find themselves:

The three stages of internal alignment

Now there is a lot of advice out there on moving from an “us vs them” culture to one driven by service level agreements, so we are going to take things one step further & discuss: 

How can you move beyond just aligning sales and marketing to a place where you are “engineering serendipity”?

Engineering Serendipity Step 1: SHARE GOALS

Before any GTM team can even hope for marketing and sales serendipity, it’s important to agree upon what success means to your organization and who owns each part of the process. With so many potential paths forward, it’s imperative to remember that FOCUS = GROWTH. From the beginning, sales and marketing need to agree that fighting over credit or even budget distracts from the one thing that makes everyone successful – growth.

Marketing and Sales Alignment: Good, better and best

Engineering Serendipity Step 2: REDUCE FRICTION

After agreeing on a shared goal, the next step is to evaluate and remove any obstacles that create more work or take more time to accomplish the tasks that lead to your goal. This step is fueled by input from practitioners on all GTM teams – your colleagues already know where their time is wasted and may even have ideas of how to improve your current processes. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at how data is captured, where it is stored and how colleagues can access it – most friction can be traced back to having to log into multiple systems, log information multiple times, or pull/marry data from multiple sources.

Engineering Serendipity Step 3: CO-CREATE

As the father of five kids, alignment at home can often be… challenging. It’s easy to harp on my kids for things like “try harder” and “tell the truth,” but that energy isn’t good for anyone. In the book Raising a Modern Day Knight, Robert Lewis recommends an exercise where the entire family builds a family crest. As a family, we created a list of family beliefs—things like “Gilkeys tell the truth”—and it allows us to point back to these beliefs when making decisions and holding each other accountable. In the process of establishing these core family values, I learned a valuable lesson:

People endorse what they co-create. 

Gilkey Family Crest

For GTM teams, a perfect example of this is the way that marketing and sales work together to build a target account list (TAL). Oftentimes, marketing creates it, sends it to sales to activate and it lands flat in developing a relationship and feedback loop. Involving both marketing and sales in a process that they have created is a sure-fire way to have everyone bought into a TAL that will work. 

Good, better, Best

Engineering Serendipity: The End State

In the end, growth stems from some type of response from prospects or customers. Anyone can create a target list. Anyone can bombard that list with generic messaging. I challenge you to work in reverse. Ask your customers what challenges your company solves. Measure the amount of research your prospects do on those challenges. Reach out when a company begins research that challenge, leaving them thinking “what perfect timing!”. This is the kind of engineered serendipity that drives responses, conversations, and growth.