Should marketers cozy up to sales or finance teams? Steve Mann, CMO extraordinaire and host of the Counterpoint B2B podcast, tries to solve this conundrum in an episode where he hears from marketing executives on each side of the debate

Meet Nicole Fuselier, senior director of revenue marketing at Matterport, who thinks marketing can’t thrive without finance. 

Gretchen Hoffman, global marketing and demand generation leader at content delivery network Limelight Networks, thinks differently. She says marketers should align more with sales, not finance. 

Who’s right?  

Marketers Should Align with Finance

“Because of COVID-19, finance is playing a much bigger role,” says Nicole. “Letting finance in the door and developing a relationship with them is really important for marketers. If we can show ROI to them, they’re going to unlock funds for us quicker.” 

Finance might not understand everything marketing does, Nicole says, so it’s up to marketers to explain that to them:

“If I can show ROI or how I’m doing a four-to-one or three-to-one conversion, that’s what finance really needs to know.” 

Nicole says most problems between marketing and finance teams have revolved around attribution, so demonstrating the marketing methods that have the greatest impact on revenue results in more successful alignment: 

“Then finance will get on board pretty darn quick.”

When Nicole joined Matterport, the company had gone over budget, so she worked closely with finance to understand what happened. As she negotiated a new budget for marketing, it was finance, not sales, that helped her understand the company’s marketing spend.

Then I could have conversations with sales around where we were going,” she says. “Who understands the spend and ROI of marketing spend better? Finance.”

Marketers Should Align with Sales

“Sales is the one generating revenue with marketing’s help, so sales and marketing alignment is critical,” says Gretchen. “That has to happen first.”

Gretchen talks about “smarketing,” the bringing together of sales-qualified and marketing-qualified leads for explosive revenue generation. Combining sales and marketing improves productivity, performance, and profit. There’s research to back this theory: Companies that align marketing and sales grow 24% faster and increase revenue by an eye-watering 34%. “Clearly, the CFO cares about that.” 

Gretchen thinks marketers should focus on marketing-sales alignment before going to finance:

“I would never underestimate that alignment. I don’t believe you can generate the revenue the CFO wants unless sales and marketing are lock-step.”

A Happy Medium?

Nobody is saying marketers need to choose between sales and finance. Where to focus your efforts depends entirely on the situation.

“Justify what you’re trying to do,” says Gretchen. “To me, it’s a combination of ‘what finances want’ and ‘what sales buy into.’ I wouldn’t pick one or the other.”

“Just because you’re tight with sales, it doesn’t mean you’re not tight with finance,” adds Nicole. 

Both Gretchen and Nicole agree a triangle exists within most organizations, with sales, finance, and marketing represented at different points. Still, Nicole believes marketers should work closely with finance rather than sales, especially on digital marketing campaigns.

“From a digital perspective, I would focus more on finance. Once I’ve got the budget, I can then partner really closely with sales. You have to build the model first, and finance has to buy into that model, or you’ll never get the money.” 

Final Word

Should you focus your efforts on sales or finance teams? Is one more important than the other? Or do both sales and finance hold equal weight? As brands enter an unfamiliar landscape post-pandemic, more marketers will ask themselves these questions. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 

Learn more about the relationships between sales, marketing, and finance in this episode of “Counterpoint B2B.” You can watch the entire episode here.

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