Houston, we have a problem.
A messaging problem.
So often, it seems like no matter how well you think you’re doing, sales and marketing are speaking two different languages. It’s like they’re two members of the same team, but from different countries. They might be “technically” headed in the same direction, but how much better would life be if they were speaking the same language?
On this episode of the Sales Engagement podcast, we sat down with Edvinas Pozniakas – On-Site SEO Team Lead at NordVPN – for a chat about messaging, consistency, and team alignment.
Some of the the topics we covered:
- Why getting alignment between sales and marketing is key
- Why their organization implemented a “smarketing” team and how yours can too
- The challenges they faced in aligning the two teams
- The top 3 books he recommends for ultimate professional development
The Key: Sales and Marketing Alignment
At NordVPN, there’s no sales team over here and marketing team over there with nobody talking to each other. Instead, everybody is responsible for delivering results and onboarding new product users.
One team manages the whole flow.
Sounds great, right?
Now, how does that work in practice?
All the big things are now joint things under both sales and marketing.
The key is alignment. NordVPN created new indicators to understand what was important within this new flow. They figured out what they needed to track, what needed following up on, and where possibilities lay for fresh campaigns.
Finally, NordVPN added a sales operation unit to support sales and marketing.
Facing down the challenges
At first, the two teams found it hard to work together because they were used to working separately. Paid marketing, for example, just looked at Google Analytics and then spent money on ads. Now, they have a new goal: don’t just deliver ads; give us good quality leads and do it at scale.
That was a tough shift for them.
Another issue cropped up around feedback. Sales staff members had a hard time giving feedback to the marketing team. As you might expect, the biggest challenges were human challenges — a new team, new responsibilities, and new ownership.
How to Start “Smarketing”
Learn more about the client all the time.
At NordVPN, that meant cleaning up their CTAs. In the old days, clients could go to self-checkout or choose to work with the sales team. Each choice offered different flows and different messages.
Streamlining everything made it easier for the customer to navigate, better for the sales team to deliver for the prospect, and more informative about why the customer made the choices they made.
Be smart. Keep learning.
What’s Tough About Aligning Sales and Marketing?
NordVPN is fortunate that they aren’t outsourcing marketing or sales. If another company was outsourcing marketing, the shift would be trickier.
The key, though, is consistency.
Your process needs to be the same every day and every week. You can’t interact once a month and expect alignment to happen.
There has to be constant talking, planning, and feedback. Make adjustments to the whole process all the time.
Edvinas recommends learning by doing.
His team drew out the whole process, including each step, the goals for each step, and the measurements for each goal.
From there, the team could see what tools, people, and resources they needed to move forward faster with the implementation.
Top 3 Books for Professional Development
Edvinas says three books shaped his thinking and mindset.
The first is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. It’s about how the manager should have extreme ownership with everything he or she does. No blaming other people; it all depends on you.
His second recommendation is Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone by Satya Nadella.
Finally, Edvinas recommends The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim. It’s an old book that tells the story of how one company was building an ecommerce department the traditional way, and how they wanted to move to the cloud environment. It gives a lot of good lessons about scaling and project management for the readers to think about.
Edvinas’ Key Takeaways
- Align marketing with sales. Bring all the big things under a single, integrated team.
- Learn more about the client all the time. Create a flow that provides you with the most data possible.
- Constantly communicate. It will help solve your messaging problem.