The CxO Show Podcast: The impact of poor sales & marketing alignment

Hear from Chris Howard, Marketing Director at LACE Partners and Joe Birkedale, CEO of Project36 as they discuss the impact of poor sales and marketing alignment on lead conversion.

Podcast (Audio only)


Episode Transcript

Joe Birkedale 0:07
Hello and welcome to the CxO show the podcast for C-suite Sales and Marketing Leaders. I’m Joe Birkedale, founder and CEO, the strategic marketing agency behind the CxO show, and in today’s episode, we’re looking at poor sales and marketing alignment, specifically, the critical influence that sales and marketing alignment has on lead conversion. And to discuss this, I have with me my special guest, a fellow podcaster, who’s also a co presenter for Love Sports radio, in addition to his full time day job as marketing director for LACE Partners. So Chris Howard, welcome to the CxO show.

Chris Howard 0:44
Thank you very much, Joe. Thank you very much for having me on.

Joe Birkedale 0:47
No problem at all. Now, Chris, before we dive into your role, at least partners and how you’ve overcome poor sales and marketing alignment at various times in your career. I think we need to touch on your role at last but I glanced over it just now in the intro. But How on earth did you get into that? And what’s that? Like?

Chris Howard 1:02
Yeah, it’s funny. So I’m actually, I do marketing for a career obviously, I’ve been writing about a beloved football team, although they’re much maligned these days, which is Arsenal.

Joe Birkedale 1:14
we’ve lost half our listeners now!

Chris Howard 1:16
Yeah, exactly. Probably, probably, people cheering, cheering into their microphones or tuning into their headphones. But yeah, I been blogging for probably about 11 or 12 years now. And I asked them, I write daily blog. I’ve appeared on multiple podcasts. And a friend of mine who also writes his own blog and he’s written a couple of books actually got a call from love sport because they were looking to do a fan show and they asked myself and my friend Dave, and a friend of ours, Giles to go on. So there’s three of us that started off the show. We do that on Monday nights on love sport radio from seven till 8pm. So we talked about everything Arsenal related for our sins and as you can imagine, of recent times, it’s not been funnest of a podcast, or podcasts and also radio shows is actually also turned into a podcast as well.

Joe Birkedale 2:09
That’s pretty cool. But it divides opinion quite a bit though.

Chris Howard 2:11
Yes, certainly tough.

Joe Birkedale 2:14
Alright, so back to why you’re here with us today on the CxO show. And obviously, that’s to discuss the issue that’s actually really common in lots of organizations, and that is poor sales and marketing alignment. So really, what’s your understanding of sales marketing alignment, and and just how damaging can it be to lead conversion?

Chris Howard 2:34
Yeah, well, I think it’s a it’s a it’s the ongoing challenge that every marketeer faces really is making sure that you can have an appropriate level of alignment and making sure that you’re able to articulate that as well. And I think when you get poor sales, marketing, sales and marketing alignment, it massively affects the productivity not just of the the marketing team. Have the sales team as well. I think what’s really, really important, and I’ll probably be referring back to this number of times during the podcast is this idea of communication. Because when, when communication works well, and when both teams are aligned, then you’re fighting, you’re sort of pulling in the same direction. And you can be more successful in the same direction. But, but actually, the communication goes down to understanding what the objectives are of the two teams as well. And if marketeers can understand the objectives and what sales guys are trying, guys and girls are trying to do, then then that will help them in in articulating their value their vision, but actually also salespeople understand what marketing guys are trying to do, which often underpins what the sales team does, then, then they can start to work together as well. So when they both see the value, you know, you’re gonna inevitably get that lead conversion Because ultimately, good marketing, certainly from my perspective, and in my history, and My career good marketing is about delivering the underpinning value and warm the warming up ofany lead generation that you get. And I think the best, the best example I could probably give is my time working at a life sciences organization Life Sciences recruitment agency, about three or four years ago, I remember standing in front of the entire business as we did our regular sort of sales meetings, and having a conversation with them, talking to them about the fact that they are as a collective, the sales team and there was a sales team of about 40-45 people. They are the extension of my marketing team, and the brand itself. And I remember getting a few looks from people because, you know, you’ve got sales people that are on the phone all the time, you know, they’re trying to talk to candidates, they’re trying to talk to clients. They’re trying to win new business from clients. They’re trying to find new candidate sourcing all the time. And I remember a few of them looking at each other a little bit blankly, but when I actually explained to them that if you think that marketing is about multiple channels, it’s about email. It’s about social media, it’s about website. But actually, it’s also about the spoken word as well. And you guys on that Salesforce, speak to your candidates, and you speak to your clients every single day. So you are representing our brand that we have a business. And so that’s why it’s my job to help you to be able to articulate that brand and what we stand for and the values that we have. And if you can start to get across to salespeople, if you can start to get across to the sales team that what I’m doing is underpinning the work that you do and if I do a good job, people are going to recognize and be more willing to pick up the phone to you. And that has a really super benefit for them as well.

Joe Birkedale 5:43
Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s a it’s a natural codependence yet it’s not always seen as that

Chris Howard 5:48

Joe Birkedale 5:50
And it with the alignment, we’ve seen it countless times. We’ve been working in agencies and you go visit clients and you get a feel for the culture. You get some companies that are very, very sales orientated. Perhaps the South department was their first they’ve grown naturally through that. And and marketing’s come along later. And there’s an imbalance in the boardroom with sales got a louder share of either pocket or voice. So you get this imbalance. And I think it’s that alignment, which is critical. I remember being in one client who shall remain nameless. And I was talking to the marketing team about an ABM program. And we were, they were saying, Yeah, we’ve got total alignment from the top to the bottom organization, IBM to the way forward, when the the active CEO walked through with an investor. And he was looking at all the different departments and introducing and introduced the marketing team in a large open plan office as the coloring in department. Yeah, and that on before Yeah, and it was it’s funny, and it’s all Haha, that’s really damaging and actually the culture within the organization if we went on to uncover that actually There wasn’t sales and marketing alignment, there wasn’t very much respect for the marketing’s capability or its need within the organization because it’d be very sales lead. And actually, when we drilled into it, the lead gen, that the demand was fantastic. And sales teams were closing that demand really well. But of course, the KPIs and the metrics weren’t when measured appropriately. So sales were getting all the all the glory and marketing was getting, you know, referred to as the current in department.

Chris Howard 7:29
And I think that’s a communication thing, isn’t it? And that’s, that’s the key. That’s the key thing for me. And it’s, it’s communication at the top level as well. So if you have a strong marketing leader, and you have a strong sales leader, and both of them are aligned, and both of them are on the same sort of page and understand the value that each one brings, then you can cascade that down through the business through the team themselves. And they can then you get teams working together as well. I had that I had a very similar situation when I was working at the rec recruitment employment center. iteration in the head of sales and myself forged a very, very close relationship. And it was because of that relationship that we were able to cascade the value of each team down to each other’s departments. And that that was massive for us. Because what it then got is it got the marketing team talking to the sales team, you know, where are you? Where are you generating this, this, this this deal that we did? Where did that come from? Oh, that was a telephone call. Where about that call? Well, you know, let’s let’s drill down to the nub of it, of where you actually got that phone that value from. And this is again, a similar situation I had when I was working at the life sciences business that I worked in. And I remember having conversations with sales guy saying, look, the reason why I’m trying to drill down to the nth degree is to where we’re getting these leads from. That’s, that’s purely and simply down to where can Where can I spend my marketing budget that’s going to help you to make your job easier. So yeah, definitely, definitely. Communication, I think is a key thing. And also that top down sort of lead leading from the front type approach. And like you said, that CEO that’s been so dismissive of the marketing team. Now, that’s not going to add any value from a marketing perspective. But actually also, you’ve got to then ask, did that marketing team do enough to champion the well, they did across the business?

Joe Birkedale 9:23
Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, you touched on it briefly a few minutes ago, I want to come back onto that. And so I want to talk specifically about this notion that you already touched on of sales as an extension of brand or extension of marketing. So how do you go about that, and how does that affect lead conversion and opportunity conversion?

Chris Howard 9:43
Yeah, so I think, as you said, I’ve I’ve touched on that a little bit with regards to the way in which you talk to your sales team, the way in which you are able to communicate to your sales team, you have to be able to find advocates who In the sales team as well, I think that’s one way in which we’re able to, I was able to build on, you know, being able to trace lead conversion that’s fundamental, from my perspective is build advocates within your, your particular business that understand the value that you can bring. From a from a lace partners perspective, it has to come from the top as well. So the lead conversion side of it. And for us, it’s about being very, very close and getting the senior management to see the value of the marketing effort that you do. But tracking it is really important as well. And if I think about again, I go back to my time, when I was at the life sciences recruiting business, we were able to track absolutely everything. And the reason we’re able to track everything was because we were able to get systems in place properly. So we were able to track candidates, you know, making sure that you’re getting the sales management team to be able to get their sales guys to effectively tracking Exactly where their candidates come from getting them to talk about where their know when they’ve had client meetings where they come from. And that’s not part of it was actually you know, it sometimes it is just a manual task, it is about being able to get across to the teams be able to have those sales management meetings and say, you know, let’s, let’s start to interrogate the data and work out where this came from. Because the reason we want to find this information out is because if we’re doing something from a marketing perspective, now we’re focused on a job board or we’re focused on a particular piece of social media that’s working, we want to do more of that. I think that’s that’s key from a, you know, from a sales perspective, from a getting them to understand that they are the extension of the marketing team.

Joe Birkedale 11:39
Yeah, no I think they’re relevant points. And I think one of the roles that I get brought in is CEO, of Project 36. We’re predominantly an Account Based Marketing (ABM) agency. So one of the big requests that we have to do is to go in and help streamline and understand that sales and marketing alignment and one of the very simple things that we do, that’s just not done in a lot of organizations is actually show the salespeople the marketing assets and the marketing playbook that’s that’s in place. So when they get a lead that pops up in Salesforce or an MQL that’s committed to HubSpot or whatever platform you’re using, that’s that sort of that becomes a marketing qualified or a sales qualified lead. What’s happened to that lead beforehand is really important so that the amount of time has been invested. Has that lead been on a webinar, for example, how they consume the white paper, have they looked at a an infographic have they joined the podcast. So if the salespeople understand the issue about the upstream effort, that not only is marketing gone to to deliver this opportunity, but also what hoops the lead has gone through how much time and engagement they’ve spent educating themselves to this point, whether now, hopefully at a position to buy, we find that once that’s mapped out and sales got a bit of conext and visibility as to what’s coming, then they respond better to the least that they have.

Chris Howard 13:05

Joe Birkedale 13:05
And they become Alex and they become an extension of that marketing team from that point of view.

Chris Howard 13:10
Yeah, what I’d also probably say is for me, and articulating the concept of the sales funnel as well, particularly when you’re in more traditional businesses, my one like recruitment, that’s been really really important the lead generation funnel from it, I remember talking to an old school recruiter, and him him thinking that, you know, marketing is effectively the guys that create the business cards for you and saying, Well, what about if I could produce you a candidate or a client that you’d never you never even heard about? But they know about you? They know about us as a business and they know about us as a business because like you just said, you know, they’ve they’ve downloaded a white paper or they’ve listened to a piece of a webinar or what have you. And so they’re warmed up, and I can hand you that warmed up person that says, Oh, yeah, I know about you guys. Okay, tell me a little bit more, as opposed to you going in cold. And I remember having that conversation with the list. So this old school recruiter, and it was like the light bulb going on. And that’s almost like my blueprint for, right? I can have that conversation with you, I need to have that conversation across the whole business and cascade that down through the different sales teams, then you’ve got your extension of marketing as a brand. And they get it, too.

Joe Birkedale 14:18
Yeah. And those light bulb moments they they come when you get a good teacher who can explain you something, whether you were back at school, university, all of a sudden the concept drops like economics I had a really good economics teacher, and he was able to really get into my mind, the concept he was talking about, and from that moment on, I got it. So if we take on board, sales and sales teams, and salespeople can and probably should become an extension in marketing, do we? Is there an argument that we need to upskill sales as storytellers do we do need to formally train them or do we just empower them with information and then let them do the storytelling in their own way?

Chris Howard 14:57
I think you sort of touched on it. There a second ago when you were talking about like the getting being a good teacher, and perhaps there’s an element of marketeers needing to be the teachers for this particular concept of storytelling, and I absolutely love this. I love this, this idea of getting salespeople to tell the story because, again, like I just said, if you can, if you can explain to them the value, you know, the reason why you’re telling this story, the reason why you’re giving the background as a business, the reason why you’re trying to articulate our values as a business is not just because there’s some, you know, words written down on the wall that you’ve been mandated that you have to talk about. It’s because people want to hear, you know, people buy from people, oldest cliche in the world, but if people buy from people, what are people like listening to what they like hearing about stories because they can have empathy, they can have an understanding and they can relate. So if you can actually meet somebody on their level, if you can understand that you you can explain to them that you understand their challenges. And if you can do it through articulating your story to them, you know, this is us as a business. This is the story that we’ve been on. This is why we can help you because we have that kind of understanding of you guys, because we’ve worked with other people like, you know, that’s, that’s the story. That’s the journey that as a salesperson, you have to take your customer on. And that’s why, again, we need as we as you just have, we need to upskill sales people so that they take on that mindset. They’re not just selling them, you know, a product or a service, they’re selling a story as well, and people buy from that story, because that’s what people want to hear.

Joe Birkedale 16:36
But absolutely, and you only have to look at the Christmas ads for john lewis and whoever that put across a story, the product kind of comes last. It’s very much the story of people they look for, they actively look forward to being sold to in that scenario. So that’s that’s the lesson we can all take away is that consumer advertising around storytelling is so powerful. So Chris says, you know, our audience here on the CxO show is predominantly C-suite. Sales and marketing C-suite. And they likely got there over time through career progression. But when you’re at the top, you see everything from that arial perspective, you see the whole picture. So you’ve got, you’ve got the strategy, and in one hand, you’ve got the direction of the board and knowing where the business needs to go. You’ve got the budgets, of course, and then you’ve got all the politics at play. But that’s not necessarily true when you’re at the coalface. So simply saying right sales and marketing alignment is important YouTube, you get along, it doesn’t necessarily resonate with the BDR or the SDR or the marketing account managers, they, they’ve naturally got their own their own perspective. They’ve got their own to do lists their targets, their KPIs, they’re potentially rewarded on conflicting KPIs as well, particularly sales. So articulating the message and actually getting buy in and response from those required is actually easier said than done. And that’s the age old management problem of getting things actually done. And that’s kind of why I’m a big believer that if you’ve got context, if they can understand why their role, or why they need to act situate in their role is instrumental in somebody else’s goals and vice versa, that together, they are both whether they be individuals or a team, they are all going to be putting in the same direction. And organizationally results will happen, which in turn rewards everybody. So those results can be bigger, better, faster when aligned. What would you say is the best way of achieving this when, when trying to align sales and marketing teams?

Chris Howard 18:36
Hmm, that’s an interesting one. Well, I sort of touched on it beforehand. But I think when you can properly articulate the entire process of the sales funnel, it makes a massive difference to both sales and marketing teams. Most sales teams that really you know, appreciate the from my experience, shall I say, most people, most sales teams don’t always appreciate the sales funnel when I first got into businesses, they don’t they believe that obviously, their part of it is the, you know, I’m KPI on X, Y, and Zed. You know, if I’ve got to make X number of calls, or, you know, I’ve got to deliver X amount of revenue. And I think when you can explain to somebody that there are other things that you can do that do that can get to your end objective, which as a business is for us to make sales in whatever product or whatever service if you can effectively articulate that. And I will say that it’s marketing’s job to do that as well to show the value, then, you know, salespeople can be brought on the journey with you. We produce content, at least partners, we produce a lot of content, at least partners. And the reason why we produce that content is to demonstrate that we are thought leaders. And the reason why we want to demonstrate that we are thought leaders is because we want people to we want HR directors or we want senior people to see that they know what they’re talking about. And, you know, we can see the value in working with them. We don’t just send our executive team and our sales team out to hit the phones and make as many calls as possible. You know, it doesn’t work unless people have been warmed up for us and the services that we provide. So for us that warming process by demonstrating our value by showing the whole length of the sales funnel, and also getting everybody involved in that process as well. Again, we talked about communication, it’s really important that you’re communicating salespeople The reason we’re doing this is to help you the reason we are adding trying to add this value is so that we are warming this up for you so that you can go into those conversations knowing that you have a whole – forgive my forgive my use of the word Arsenal given that I talked about the podcast earlier that I do, but you have all of these different elements in your arsenal, but to then talk to your clients or your customers for that’s, that’s the value of the sales funnel. But what’s also important is making sure that people understand that not everybody is ready to buy at the at the point in which you pick up the phone to them or a point in which you initially contact them. And if you can articulate that to salespeople properly, and if they get it, they may understand that it may not be a sale today, but it might be a sale tomorrow.

Joe Birkedale 21:23
I want to touch on that. And that that’s where in dealing with sales and marketing alignment, there’s KPIs that you can align, of course, there’s messaging and communications very, very important and, and sales Don’t forget, they can be very quick to react, they can jump on and satisfy demand wants, they’ve got it quite quickly. But in terms of generating that demand, specifically in the market, and the larger, more complex sort of enterprise level businesses that Project36 tends to work with the lead times from an inquiry to order can be many months, sometimes years. Which is why we helped them create this always on feed of content; Thought Leadership engagement and targeting via you know, inbound marketing, HubSpot, etc, but also very significantly, you know, Account Based Marketing (ABM). So how do you think it’s best to align sales and marketing when those lead times can be very, very long?

Chris Howard 22:17
Yeah, well, again, it’s about being able to understand that today’s contact can lead to so much more in the future, but actually, then it’s about having a proper understanding and being a bit more strategic about your pipeline. And understanding that know if you can go into the if you can go into the nub of if you can get the data on how long your your pipeline times are, and do you understand as a business that perhaps it might take you six months, 12 months, 18 months, maybe even two years, and we get this as a consultancy, we have we have conversations with people that are not in a position where they’re interested in purchasing or making any kind of agreement to work with us at this point in time because they’re not ready? No, perhaps they are looking for, they’re looking at their their HR transformation. And they’re not in a position where they as a business can really look at any kind of transformation programs for 18 months, maybe it’s a new HR D, that’s only just going into the business. So for us, what’s important is that we keep close to that person, keep close to those companies. Just keep reminding them that actually, you know, we’re there when you’re ready for us. And you take people through that that funnel process, which is you know, you have that initial you establish your credibility, you have the initial understanding as to what their challenges are, you demonstrate that you can actually help with those challenges. But also, what we found as a business is successful is not the hard sell. It’s the look, when you’re ready to talk to us, you talk to us. In the meantime, we’re going to keep providing you we’re going to keep furnishing you with information. We’re going to keep supporting you, we’re going to keep giving you advice, guidance. You know, we provide thought leadership, paint white papers, we’ll run webinars, we’ll run podcasts, we’ll give you a whole host of channels in which you can, you know, learn more as an individual. And then when you’re ready to call on us, then we’ll be there. And what we then find is just bringing those types of people on the funnel, we might find that we bring somebody from, you know, initial contact through to being an actual advocate of our business without actually having worked with us. But when they do get to the point where they already if they’re an advocate, then it’s a no brainer and maybe, you know, they, because we have the advocacy, they’re just they just ready to, to work with us. But if we get pushed people as far along the funnel as possible, to the point in which they’re ready to buy from us, when they’re further along that funnel, then that lit that lead time when it becomes a right I’ve now got the budget. I now want to do this, this program. I’m going to call on you guys like partners in this instance in my current role, of course, then it becomes a lot quicker competence. And that’s when from a sales point of view, it becomes a lot easier. Because it’s then not just you don’t just have to jump through the hoops of demonstrating your value, because you’ve already done that further down the sales funnel.

Joe Birkedale 25:11
Yeah, you’re empowering and informing rather than selling and it’s a it’s a cultural switch. If you give somebody all the information that they need, and it becomes a no-brainer, why wouldn’t they? So provided it’s the right time. Were an exact same process, we’re looking for some business support services at the moment, and I found the supplier and I’ve known about the supply that I want to work with for a long, long time. We are not ready for them as an agency yet. So they’ve reached down and said, like, yeah, let’s work together. And we realize that we’re not quite there yet. So they’re still very much on our agenda to work with, but not for maybe 12 to 18 months.

Chris Howard 25:52
And you know, what’s amazing, sorry, I find amazing the number of companies that don’t actually go through this process, you know, this, this kind of constant engagement process, the amount of you know, I’m a marketing director, we, we often require services, a variety of different supply companies. We’re not a big one, a massive company, but we still require services or companies. And I will reach out to somebody, if I’m on the verge of looking for, I don’t know, website redevelopment or if we’re looking at an engaging some kind of telemarketing campaign. But it’s amazing the amount of companies that I will have reached out to a couple of years ago when working other companies that as far as I’m concerned, I’ve dropped off their radar because they just haven’t bothered just keeping contact with me. And sometimes that’s all you need that constant contact. You know, I’m absolutely on the purchaser and I understand that, you know, I’m not always going to be able to make certain purchases at certain times. But what amazes me is that I am somebody that has a budget, and I can use that budget to in certain areas, but when I’m ready to use it, and there are so many companies out there that I see that don’t actually just engage a very basic level of, you know, account management of prospect of prospecting. And you must see it all the time, I’d imagine.

Joe Birkedale 27:14
Oh all the time, and it’s, it’s this is where we get into this very heavy sales influence within an organization. And that is sell, sell, sell clothes, clothes, clothes, if you’re not closing, you’re not winning. And it’s that type of organization. They tend to have in, our experience, the center of SDRs, and fixed business processes, even scripts sometimes. And therefore, if it doesn’t fit the script, it doesn’t work. We had inquiries coming in for some of our one of our financial services clients where the business development rep could only work with inquiry coming from a certain postcode and if they’re outside that postcode, they have to pass it to the next rep and so on. So we would drive an inquiry in, and we didn’t at that time have that visibility. We were just told, going get inquiry to make that phone ring, the phone would ring. Business rep would take the quote, one of the first questions is, what’s your postcode. And when we recorded some of these calls for training and listening back, if it wasn’t their postcode of interest, they’re like, “Oh, so and so is your contact there on the phone, I get into any back” and then just drop the phone.Because there was so heavily targeted on closing and time on phone and opportunity. There wasn’t any passing business referral targets. There wasn’t any script that went outside of that. So when we listen to it back, we’re like, wow. 25 calls today where that’s happened. Those 25 people didn’t find back and they weren’t contacted. They are not customers, and they would have probably been customers. And so having that visibility, and understanding the KPI exam, very, very early on in my career. I was Product Marketing Manager for large distribution company. And we work within channel marketing. So we would reach out to the manufacturers and say like, we want to put this marketing campaign together to help shift this through the channel. I want £50k, £80k, hundred grand marketing budget over the next quarter to push it. So we’d go to the likes of HP and whatever and say this is the program, they come back and say that’s fine, we’ll give you that money. But we want you to buy £2 million quids worth of stock, now. To support it. So we then turn around to purchasing go right we’ve got this money going to come in for this marketing campaign. But you need to buy this £2 million quid, but by doing so will hit a rebate target. So it’s already complicated and we’d get all this money coming in. Let’s see and we’ll come back with flat no. And when we got to the bottom of why they were being incentivized on having as little inventory on the shelf as possible. For every pound that wasn’t tied up in stock, they would get a percentage bonus. So physically by having stock, which obviously is that what can people need to sell, because if it isn’t a stock, they wouldn’t buy it and the distribution channel because of just in time, etc. So we as an organization have crippled ourselves, we’ve got all these great marketing rebates and campaigns and projects going and the suppliers, really happy to support us, but we wouldn’t buy the product. So once we’re able to show that to the CEO, there’s there’s a misalignment of KPIs here. The problem went away and growth enchewed and it was nothing new. It’s just KPIs very aligned. There’s a lot to be said about job share.

Chris Howard 30:31
Oh yes.

Joe Birkedale 30:31
Understanding, you know, getting one of my suppliers, they brought in their marketing team to sit on the phones instead, right, you’re gonna make 25 calls today. And I realized very quickly, it’s not very nice. And they had appreciation and respect for the SDRs. By the same token, they stopped yesterday as the market apartments. They realized very quickly, it’s not about colouring in pictures. So there was this this handover of respect where when one says something needs to be done, the other listened It comes back to that customer value journey, I guess where, you know, you understand how long it might take, but also the part that you can play at the right time. And we quite often, particularly the database marketing, when we’re working with sales and marketing, it will fall down unless there’s no sales, marketing alignments, this subject matters quite, quite important for us as an agency as well. And we’ve quite often put in place SLA agreements between sales and marketing. So marketing are going to deliver x and sales are going to respond in such a way in such a time scale and report back in such a way so it’s it’s a good process to go through.

Chris Howard 31:41
Yeah. And if you put yourself into the customer’s position in that instance, as well, noperson passively read something about a white paper and download it. If they you know, if they get a phone call within a minute, five minutes, 10 minutes Even even if it may even a few days, well, maybe not within a few days, but certainly within 24 hours. I don’t know it feels a little bit contrived. It feels a little bit. It kind of erodes a bit of, I would say, erodes a little bit of trust. Because the first thing that you do as a recipient of that white paper is start to think next time you download a white paper, you think I’m just gonna get a phone call? And I’m gonna get badgered. No. And again, it comes back to where am I in the, in the stage of my buying process. And just because you’re downloading or being able to understand that and what stage of the customer value journey Am I am I purchasing stage, possibly not just downloading a white paper does not equal purchasing. If I am downloading, I’ve downloaded a white paper if I’ve visited the website, and if you have the right sort of search tracking and in a data tracking within your website, and you’re using the right automation platform, then you can obviously start to track in the list. But if you’ve got somebody that’s downloaded a white paper versus somebody that’s downloaded it White Papers, logged into our webinars visited website six times in the last three days, you know, it’s probably within your rights to be able to hand that over to the sales guy and say, you might want to phone them up and say, Can I help you? Or you’re right? How are you doing? You know, do you need any support with anything, you know, because they’re probably looking for something and they’re probably going to reach out, and they’ll probably be in a better stage or needing you for something. If you’ve got somebody that’s just read something that you’ve produced because they think the content is quite interesting. Again, you’re at a very different stage in your, in your, your customer purchasing your your value journey.

Joe Birkedale 33:35
Absolutely. And it depends very much on what you sell. If you’ve got a very complex, customized solution, lead offering that needs human interaction, it needs human customization. It’s expensive. Then, if they don’t, I don’t white paper there at the awareness of consideration stages. If they’re chatting to you on a chatbot on the on your website. You’ve got a solution, which is 15 pound a month, that is much more likely to mean they want to buy straightaway. They’re actively engaging with you two way straight from the from the get go. If they’re downloading the long format of content; they need to read that! So phoning them in five minutes after they’ve downloaded it is pointless. But like you said, they’re at the wrong stage anyway. And so you need to understand your own business, you understand the asset that the prospect is engaged with, and it all needs to be mapped out and that’s what that SLA can come in. And the usually the best way is just don’t show sales that that that was a lead until it’s until it’s an mutually agreed lead score, and then pass it over. Alright, so every episode of The CxO show, we ask our guests to give us four or five top tips, pro tips, some takeaway pieces of info that other Sales and Marketing Leaders can then think about, adapt and possibly even adopt into their own specific scenarios. So with that in mind, Chris, what what are your top tips for improving sales and marketing alignment?

Chris Howard 35:08
Get yourself aligned with the leaders within the business and the sales leaders and the marketing leaders within the business, get those two together. So they can understand what the common goals are and mechanisms start with even just sitting down and starting to map out, right? What are the objectives of your team? What have you, what have you guys got to do to be successful in sales? And what what have you guys got to do in marketing to be successful? Because then once you understand each other’s goals and objectives, then it’s a lot easier to be aligned. So, you know, getting, for me getting myself, you know, very close to the head of sales to the sales director, you know, commercial director, that sort of stuff has been invaluable. So I’d say that’s one one point. From a social side of it as well, that it helped that funnily enough when I was at the rec, the head of sales, who’s also an arsenal fan, so we have plenty to talk about. So we used to get teams, we used to get together ourselves to talk, you know, ideas, strategies and what we wanted to do. But actually, because our team saw that we were so aligned, they started to forge middle sort of networks amongst themselves. And we encourage that. So it’s about encouraging your teams to do it. So it’s all very well, myself as a head of marketing or marketing director being close to head of sales or sales director. But ultimately, you need to then make sure that you can cascade that down. So building a bit of camaraderie in the teams worked as well, we used to go to take my team away for, you know, off sites, at least twice a year, where we go through our marketing plan, review it, analyze it, see where we’re at, but actually, I’d also get the sales guys along towards the end of those day off sites that we’ve had so that the team can present to them and tell them about our ideas. And then we’d all go to the pub afterwards and have a few drinks and then you start to build more of a rapport. And actually, what I then found was that My marketing team, were able to they were going to the sales guys just off their own back to start tracing, you know where leads have come from so that we could start being more successful in the marketing that we were doing which is really, really useful. Get the quick wins. So from my perspective, when I, whenever I join an organization start to look at where you can get close to the sales guys and where you can demonstrate value to them. If you can go into an organization and demonstrate very, very quickly, okay, this is what I can do for you. These are the things that I’m going to do for you and be successful with you very, very quickly, then you’re going to build advocacy. And that’s another key thing, which I probably say as my as my fourth point is find advocates within the business. The first thing I did when I joined when I joined the last two recruitment businesses that I’ve worked at is a bit of a analysis of who the people are within the business. Is that really are and willing to embrace marketing more than others. And then find those individuals that are of a certain sort of seniority as well, because that helps, and get them on board as advocates, once you’ve got individuals in the business that are advocates, and if you can demonstrate value for them, then their peers will see Oh, hold on a second, the marketing team helping their lead generation. Now I want a piece of that as well.

Joe Birkedale 38:23
So that’s brilliant, I think on the quick wins one. You know, whenever I’ve gone into an organization, I’ve always going to need at least a 90 day plan before I started as to what I wanted to implement it and cascade that through the organization very, very quickly, because you’ve only got a certain amount of time to make a difference before you get swallowed up into the existing culture that’s there. And so where that’s relevant when you’re starting out and starting into a new role, the getting the quick wins is is really easy to do. Actually, if you’re an established marketing leader or an established sales leader, you need to get those quick wins in, you can actually do a reset, you can relaunch your own department within organization. So, if you’ve been a marketing director for three or four years, you need to kick it up, you’ve got some new ideas, you want to do new strategies, you want to align sales and marketing better. There’s no shame in launching almost as an internal agency within your own businesses, marketing is going to relaunch or even a rebrand that gives you opportunity to get those quick wins done. Here’s some quick tactical work that we’re going to get done over the next quarter. And here’s our strategic plan. You’re really announcing yourself with intent with gusto and energy and that can be really powerful for both sales and marketing purposes, sales can do the same look, we’ve got this new strategy, this is how we’re going to relaunch it. This is how we’re gonna go. So your four tips there, you know, 1. leadership alignment, 2. be social, 3. get the quick wins and 4. find advocates are really, really, really good there. If you got any, uh, any there’s no silver bullet that you’d want to throw in there.

Chris Howard 39:50
It’s a personal thing more than anything else. I feel like I should have perhaps embraced digital a little bit quicker than I did. I We as a business at least partners we get involved with digital. When I say digital, I’m talking about you know, the paid for PPC search, you know, targeting people through LinkedIn and channels like that. From that perspective, we’ve had a lot of success in lace over the last six months in finding people and engaging with people and starting them on their journey, their value journey with us through sponsored sponsored advertising sponsored in veiling within LinkedIn just that’s quite a tactical thing. But overall, I think taking more risk is important try things out if that’s if that’s my if that’s my if I could go back in five years time or even if I five years time, or 10 years ago, I would have said embrace trying more things through digital a little bit quicker, because I probably be further along the line than I am at the moment.

Joe Birkedale 41:01
Okay, so there you have it direct from Chris, his top tips as to how you can align sales and marketing in your organization with a view to closing those sales leads and a bit of a silver bullet at the end of this to perhaps take a few more calculated risks. So that brings us to the close of today’s podcast, a huge, huge thank you to my guest, Chris Howard Antilles partners for freeing up his and their time to come on today. So Chris, thank you very much for coming in. And remember to check, check back for the next episode. And to subscribe to the podcast for your favorite app. We’re on Spotify, Apple, Google, Tune-in and loads more. You can also check us online at ‘’, where you can see a schedule of upcoming episodes, guest speakers, recordings of previous episodes, and even submit your suggestions for topics that we should be covering. So head to the ‘’ to find out more. The CxO show is recorded, produced and managed by ‘’ and what you might not know is that this podcast has a video companion and the series to support it so built and produced with our video on webinar partners at ‘’ video this episode features closed captions subtitles so you can read along without needing speakers or headphones and also features actually information like links to resources and other content assets. As mentioned in episodes, the videos are available now, so please check it out at the ‘’. dot show. Until next time, goodbye and thanks for tuning in.

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