“I’ve been in marketing for over 25 years. After a while, you get tired of being told what number to hit. And you want to ask, ‘How did you get these numbers?’”
Kenny Lee is fine with KPIs, but he is adamant that marketing leaders and on-the-ground marketing and sales teams fully understand what needs to be measured, why it needs to be measured, and how to do it.
It was his passion for progressive, results-driven marketing that led him to his current role as VP of Revenue at Seismic after 25 years in marketing at large enterprises like Adobe, Twitter, and ZenDesk.
He shared his insights into revenue-producing sales and marketing alignment in an episode of Tomorrow’s Best Practices Today on LeadtailTV.
Sales and marketing alignment is critical for B2B companies striving for growth and success. When these two teams work in harmony, they can drive revenue, increase customer satisfaction, and create a more efficient and effective organization.
Alignment Has Its Benefits
When these teams are on the same page, it produces several benefits for B2B brands.
- Unity. Alignment ensures sales and marketing teams are working towards common goals, preventing wasted time and resources.
- Better communication. Well-aligned teams share insights and learn from each other.
- Customer experience. When sales and marketing work together, they can better identify and address customer needs, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
KPIs can play a significant role in aligning sales and marketing teams. When thoughtfully implemented, KPIs provide a measurable framework for evaluating success, allowing both sales and marketing to track progress toward shared objectives.
By selecting and monitoring relevant KPIs, sales and marketing teams can ensure they are making data-driven decisions and focusing their efforts on strategies that drive business growth.
Are We Talking About the Same Metric?
The problem is that, often, the KPIs each of these teams is measuring don’t match up with one another.
“Many companies operate in silos,” Kenny says. “Often what I find, in terms of KPIs, is every team has a different set of KPIs. Marketing might have a set of KPIs around MQLs or pipeline sources. SDR or BDR teams might have a KPI around inbound or outbound goals and metrics. And then sales, they’re on the hook for actual pipeline and bookings.”
The danger of this approach is that each team focuses so intently on meeting its goals that the big picture gets lost in the shuffle.
“No one is looking at the entire picture,” Kenny says. “Often, the way that goals and targets are set in companies is that they have these siloed goals.”
Frequently, teams are even measuring success using different metrics.
It’s a classic “can’t see the forest for the trees” situation. Even if individual teams are making their goals, overall business goals may suffer. Because that broader point of view is missing, team goals may actually work against one another to the detriment of growth.
The Alignment Process
So, how can B2B marketing and sales leaders help their teams work together on goals that drive growth?
It starts with agreeing on what success looks like.
“I look at every team, and I look at what their definitions of success are,” Kenny says. If teams are defining success based on different criteria, that’s a red flag.
There are a few questions B2B marketing leaders ask to help understand where teams are disconnected. For example:
- What is a good MQL?
- What does a perfect lead handoff look like?
- How does your team measure its results?
“What I’ve seen work the best is when every team is aligned to one standard,” Kenny says. “You’ll see a lot more efficient pipe, a lot more deals that don’t get stalled out.”
Two of the most important aspects of the alignment process are transparency and empathy. Trust is a massively important component in well-aligned teams.
KPIs can create adversarial relationships between sales and marketing departments due to their scoring models of success, Kenny says. That’s why it’s important to create a collaborative environment that invites everyone into the process of defining and measuring success.
At the end of this process, Kenny says, “Everything [across teams] should more or less look the same. Or at least categories of similar buckets. I call it systems of clarity. And also a lot of transparency. If marketing’s top-of-funnel isn’t converting, it’s a team problem. And the last thing in the whole process is empathy.”
Insights, Not Yardsticks
The common refrain when it comes to alignment and KPIs is, “What are we measuring?” In other words, how does this business want to define success?
That changes the way B2B sales and marketing leaders approach metrics across the sales process.
Kenny is a fan of David Kellog’s pithy statement on attribution. “[David says] Models and frameworks are important, but you don’t want to use them as tools of oppression. Yes, you want to measure things and look at things, but don’t use attribution as an insights engine, not as a measurement yardstick.”
As with any KPI, if there isn’t alignment on what success looks like, it is nearly impossible to produce consistent results.
“For me, what I try to do is just listen and work across all my stakeholders and teams. Listen to the customers. There are lots of lines of communication to tap into to understand what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.”
Get more of Kenny’s insights in this Tomorrow’s Best Practices Today episode on Leadtail TV.
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