A big hello from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More with Pam. Today I have a very special guest, Mark Emond. Mark is a long time IBMer, Founder and President of Demand Spring – a B2B revenue marketing consultancy.
Today we are going to talk about sales and marketing alignment.
In this episode:
- What does Demand Spring do, and what is the company about?
- Based on the current stage of sales and marketing (and how they work together), what are some of the challenges B2B marketers tend to encounter?
- What processes and tools should a CMO use to align sales and marketing?
- In what ways a suitable platform can improve and influence sales and marketing alignment strategy?
- What’s next for marketers when they reach the MQL target?
- What does it take to create a seamless sales and marketing alignment strategy?
- Can marketers do sales and marketing alignment bottom up and without top management support?
- What is the critical role of sales and marketing alignment?
- What is it that salespeople and marketers still control in the world of empowered buyers?
Quotes from the episode:
“The buyers using digital channels, using the content available through digital channels, are self-educating through the buyer journey. They’re engaging interdependently in a non-linear manner with marketing and sales. They’re the ones calling the shots.”
“To me, the heart of a good sales rep or a good marketer is solving people’s problems. It’s finding solutions to people’s problems. I think having people who are more educated about what they’re buying is a good thing. Because then you can have a true dialogue and discussion.”
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A big hello from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More with Pam. Me! Yes. I have a very special guest today, Mark Emond, and he is President of Demand Spring. I am going to let him tell you what Demand Spring is. And he’s also a long time IBMer. Kind of like me, working at Intel in the big enterprise for a long period of time.
We are going to talk about sales and marketing alignment.
I know that’s kind of important, but how should we do that when buyers are in control. Like us, we are very much in control, in the driver’s seat. You know, as a marketer and the salespeople like what you can do about it. So hey, welcome, Mark. Thank you so much for coming to my show!
Mark Emond: Thank you, Pam. That was a great intro. What a great welcome, like God, if I got that kind of welcome when I walked into my– mind, you, my dog kind of gives me that welcome. (both laugh) My 13-year-old daughter doesn’t cause the other way in terms of greetings, and yeah, my wife doesn’t welcome me with that kind of enthusiasm either. So.
Pam Didner: I completely understand, like when I walk in through the door, like literally, I have two grown children and my husband, and they’re like, “oh, you’re at home. Great. Knock yourself out.” It’s like, “come on, guys. Mom is here! Do something! Show some love.” (both laugh).
Well, talk to us. What do you do? And what is your company about?
Mark Emond: What do I do? Well? So let me tell you a quick anecdote that my, my you’re the second person that asked me that today, the first was my 13-year-old daughter. Um, I was driving her somewhere today, and I was on a conference call, and I’d done the conference call, and she asked me–so, so I’ve, I’ve run Demand Spring for nine years now, she’s 13 now. So she was four, right? So that’s all she’s ever known me doing right. And she, she said to me today, “So what, what do you do at Demand Spring? So I described what we do, and she said to me, “well, why do you do that?” Why are you a marketer? And so I described, you know, why I want to become a marketer and why I am? And she said, “I always thought you’d do something more interesting, Dad.” (both laugh)
Pam Didner: Yeah, no, no. It was like, you know what? I thought my dad was more interesting.
Mark Emond: She then said. “Somebody in my class thought you played for the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League, right. That you were this player, who now plays for Vegas, Mark Stone. My first name’s Mark. And she said, “oh, that would have been so much better. I wish she would have been Mark Stone instead.” (both laugh
Pam Didner: You were like, you know what, “I’m sorry to let you down, girl.” I’ll tough it out. Just tough it out
Mark Emond: So I’ll, I’ll answer your question, though. So what do I, what do I do? So, I founded Demand Spring. We’re a B2B revenue marketing consultancy. So we get out of bed in the morning. We’re a team of about 22 people. And our mission is to help marketers stand taller. We want to help marketers be more strategic players in their organizations. Both as individuals (help them grow their careers) and as a marketing organization (be a more strategic team aligned with sales) delivering on their commitments to the C-suite. And you know, our part of that contribution is helping them craft great experiences that drive pipeline and revenue, hence brand marketing consultancy.
Pam Didner: Very nice. So it’s looking at the marketing actually from the sales contributions perspective. So I know that many marketers, especially on the B2B side, tend to focus on the top of the funnel. And that’s very hard to quantify the sales contribution. From your perspective, based on the current stage of sales and marketing (and how they work together), what are some of the challenges B2B marketers tend to encounter?
Mark Emond: Well, I’ll start with where you just went, which is just overall alignment–alignment on what is marketing supposed to deliver? You mentioned I worked at IBM before founding Demand Spring. Came to IBM through the acquisition of Cognos in the analytics space. And when I started at Cognos, we were not very well aligned with sales. Under the guidance of a CMO who started a little bit after I did, Dave Laverty, we became much, much more aligned. And one of the things Dave did that was brilliant was he measured and compensated everybody on his marketing team on sales pipeline and revenue.
Pam Didner: Oh really? So how did he do that? I understand on the surface the KPI. The marketing KPI needs to be aligned with the sales and the line with the sales revenue. What are some of the processes and tools that you guys used to make that happen?
Mark Emond: First of all, from an analytic standpoint, we used our technology. We were an analytics vendor, so we put a really good measurement environment to measure marketing’s contribution and the overall pipeline, coverage and revenue. And we had visibility, for one.
Pam Didner: So let me stop you there for a second. So given that you are a software company, you probably can build a tool on your own. Did Dave and you build some platform, or do you buy certain kinds of third-party platforms to build that?
Mark Emond: Well, that was what Cognos did. We were a business intelligence or an analytics vendor.
Pam Didner: Ah, so you guys built that internally.
Mark Emond: We just used our technology, and we had a data scientist within marketing. This was back in the early two-thousands.
Pam Didner: So you guys are ahead of the game in a lot of ways.
Mark Emond: We were very, uh, I mean, we, we used marketing automation aggressively back in 2005 to 2007. We were Eloqua’s first million-dollar client. But I think more than anything in terms of what we did was that simple act of aligning metrics, really told sales, “Hey, we’re in this with you,” and it drove marketing and sales together. Right? I’ve lived this before. When marketing is measured on more top of funnel metrics like MQLs, marketers tend to celebrate when they reach an MQL target, regardless of whether sales are having a good quarter, a bad quarter, or a disaster.
Pam Didner: But they do not necessarily measure the quality of MQL.
Mark Emond: No, exactly, exactly. So, you know what measuring marketing on pipeline revenue is all about is saying, “Hey, you have a role to play throughout the funnel, right? You need to drive quantity and quality into the top of the funnel, but the top is not enough. You have a role to play, be it content development, sales enablement, great digital experiences, nurturing programs, uh, PR, case studies.”
Pam Didner: I 100% agree with everything you said. Oh my God, you are just like singing in my years. Great!
Mark Emond: yeah. Yeah. We lived it. So, at Cognos, I led the global demand center. Then I led North American regional marketing, and I witnessed firsthand the type of alignment and relationship that we had with sales. It was the best I’d ever seen it. Right. And not perfect, but sales knew we had their back.
Pam Didner: Understood. So that sounds like you guys, over some time, built that very, very solid and seamless relationship. And I have encountered a lot of marketers. They did not have that kind of luxury. They are in the manufacturing segments. They have to buy third-party tools. They have to ramp their salespeople. They have to ramp their marketing people. They must ensure the process is in place or the system before quantifying and measuring the sales contribution.
And they always encounter, in terms of sales, are not meeting them halfway. What are the nuggets or the wisdom you can share with the people who are kind of in the trenches and make an effort? I wanted to work with the sales salespeople, but salespeople always kind of brushed it off.
Mark Emond: Yeah, we do a lot of sales and marketing alignment work with our clients. And the first thing we always start with is just a good recognition and a discussion with sales leaders and marketing leaders about the buyer’s role today, right? Typically in a B2B buyer journey today–or in a considered purchase for B2C if you’re buying a car or a house–it’s not sales that are in control anymore. Unlike when you and I started our career, Pam, it’s not marketing. It’s the buyer, right? The buyer using digital channels, using the content available through digital channels is self-educating through a lot of the buyer journey. They’re engaging interdependently in a non-linear manner with marketing and sales. They’re the ones calling the shots. Right? So, we have seen in the last. I’ll say three to four years, more and more sales or traditional sales organizations kind of recognize that they need to change.
Pam Didner: I hear you. I have seen something similar as well, working with manufacturing companies specifically, right? Manufacturing company, or supply chain, any kind of, um, I would say materials handling type of organization, they tend to be the last segment to change. Because for the longest time, in the past 50 years, how do they get their sales? Well, their salespeople have a relationship, or they go attend the events or build a relationship with specific accounts. And that’s how they close the deal. They never really had to work very closely with the marketing people.
But I agree with you that many seasoned salespeople recognize there is a shift in terms of how the buyers or their customers are interacting with them. They have to move themselves a little bit upstream. And the way to do that is working very closely with sales. So I love you. Ideas are when you have a conversation with the salespeople, bring the buyers behaviors and also, you know, how they buy right now, uh, as a part of the discussion. I think that’s a great, great suggestion.
Mark Emond: Yeah. The other thing that we see too is there’s, there’s also, you know, a bit of a demographic shift going on, even knowing sellers as well. Right? We do a lot of work in the financial services industry and wealth management, and asset management. Traditionally, the sales reps within the wealth managers or asset managers have relationships with financial advisors, brokers, and dealers. As I like to say, it’s been old white guys talking to old white guys. (Pam laughs) And we’re seeing a demographic shift now, both amongst advisors, brokers, dealers, and this team in wealth managers, right. It reflects more diversity of ages and stages of life and certain racial and gender diversity.
So that’s also helping, right? I think there’s kind of this, this turnover to some degree too, of the individuals’ demographics. And they’re recognizing that you know, Hey much, like in our personal lives, it’s not, you know, like when we bought a car 25 years ago, right. We’d go to the dealership, and the sales rep at the dealership would be the voice of education through much of a buying experience. And now when we go buy a car right, there’s—
Pam Didner: We sometimes know more than they do.
Mark Emond: Right. And I think in the future, right, we’ll be doing test drives to virtual reality. We’ll just go in to pick up the keys, um, and that, you know, so I think there’s a shift going on, as well.
Pam Didner: Definitely. So, um, I would like to get your thoughts on a sales and marketing alignment. Do you think the marketers can do sales and marketing alignment bottom up and without top management support?
Mark Emond: No. In a word, no. I think you need executive sponsorship.
Pam Didner: I think I would 100% agree with you. I mean, I ran into that question multiple times and, um, that, you know, the worker bees have that full intention to work with the sales team, but they cannot pull the traction and. CMOS, though, the VP of marketing on not supporting it. And I don’t think there’s any other way out. You have to get a management alignment between the VP of sales and the associate VP of marketing. I think it has to be a top-down driven initiative. And I have said that multiple times in the past, and I also have people arguing with me, but I kind of wanted to hear your perspective on that one.
Mark Emond: Well, I think it comes down to incentives, right. As we all know, people in general and certainly sales reps, sales leaders are motivated by, and their behavior is a function of what they’re incentivized on. Right. So if you don’t have motivation coming from above to drive a new way of doing things, the desire to change the behavior is not going to be there.
I will add that even in a top-down approach where you’ve got executive sponsorship, the most important function in sales and marketing alignment is always the first level sales managers in the regions. If they don’t support sales and marketing alignment, the sales leaders that the individual reps report to. It’s going to fall.
Pam Didner: Yeah. On that one, I agree. So a lot of time, what I tell my clients to do is basically (because I’m supporting marketing organization, supporting sales, not necessarily the other way around), I always encourage the first line, the marketing specialists need to demonstrate value. They need to win the first-line sales reps trust. Does that make sense?
And I don’t think any salespeople will turn down any help they can get, but if you are helping them, but not helping them, like you are helping them. Still, it’s not the help they needed; they’re going to brush you off. So you have to understand what the needs are and then do what you can to support them. And win their trust. That’s the really important part. And then things can blossom from there.
Mark Emond: Yeah. To us, you know, what they need, in my opinion, and my experience is they need to understand how they can help them meet their number. Right. We all know that that’s, you know, that’s what motivates sales rate is making their number. Right. So, and that’s where the alignment is critical, right? For marketing to help them make their number, they have to have ongoing visibility and dialogue into tracking against that number?
Right. If I know if you’re on or off track–
Pam Didner: Understand their dashboard very well.
Mark Emond: –well, then I can calibrate. One of the things that we did at IBM that IBM does is a great process–we did not so enthusiastically call them “root canals” when I was there. And I’m sure they still do. Every level of sales and marketing in every region, right up to corporate headquarters worldwide, does a Monday pipeline inspection with marketing and sales and business development at the table. There they look at, regardless if you’re in the New England region or the, you know, in Tokyo, you are jointly looking at with your upline management, your pipeline for the current quarter and how it’s converting to closed one, for the next quarter for NQ +1, NQ + 2, whatever length of your sales cycles are. You’re looking at, are we on track or off track for our pipeline?
And you’re expected as a sales and marketing leader to look at what’s being reported before you come to the meeting on that Monday and identify and document the actions you’re taking against those gaps and collectively identify those. So if you’re working together, if you’ve got a gap of 50 million in the pipeline for next quarter and you’re five weeks from next quarter, you come to the meeting—
Pam Didner: “What are you doing? We need to close the deal!”
Mark Emond: Exactly! And what else do we need to do to drive more pipelines in? Exactly that to me is a great alignment function.
Pam Didner: In a way, that meeting is a forcing function. It is a forcing function by the senior management saying, “you know why we, we will have this weekly huddle. Like it or not, we are going to talk about it and just put the pipelines on the paper and let’s see if we can work together.”
One of my suggestions to manufacturing companies, especially marketers supporting them, is the same thing. I say, “attend the weekly huddle meeting. Even if you are not invited, somehow, just get yourself in there. Be a party crasher, right. And first, just listen in.” And then, the second thing is, you know, once you understand a whole lot more and say, “Hey, you know what, for that specific account, maybe we can do this. What do you think?”
So it’s kind of like baby steps for a lot of manufacturing companies or small startups. They don’t have that very formal pipeline inspection meeting you were talking about. But most of the sales organizations that I have worked with all have a weekly huddle. They have had to have some sort of meeting so the VP of Sales will get an update in terms of, you know, how are we doing sales-wise.
Mark Emond: Yeah. And it’s that huddle that I think more than anything else—the first-line sales manager. Suppose we can change the culture for the first-line sales manager to recognize that marketing needs to be an equal partner at the table in that meeting. Because as we just talked about the buyers and control, they’re relying just as much on what marketing does as what sales do to drive the pipeline today. And you’ve got to have both parties at the table. Right. So if we can change the minds of first-line sales managers to make sure it’s a joint meeting, then that was a long way to performance.
Pam Didner: 100% agree. So there’s another question I would like to get your thought (and I have my point of view). But now buyers are in control. And a lot of time, they do a whole lot more research about a specific product they want to buy. And sometimes they have more knowledge, as I said, than the brand marketers or even the company’s salesperson. Does that mean that we have no control whatsoever?
Mark Emond: I don’t look at it as control. To me, the heart of a good sales rep or a good marketer is solving people’s problems. It’s finding solutions to people’s problems. I think having people who are more educated about what they’re buying is a good thing, right? Because then you can have a true dialogue and discussion, right? You can be partners, you know, determining is this the right solution for you or not, or maybe there’s another solution that we offer that’s a better solution. Or, you know, maybe, we’re not the right solution or vendor for you, which is hard to turn away. I get it. Right. But I think that can even have huge dividends for you in the future, as well.
Pam Didner: And be very honest about it. Be very transparent.
Mark Emond: I think you have to be today, right? We are in the age of transparency, right? We’re in the age of knowledge is power, and people see through it if you’re not transparent. Right? If you’re truly serving your clients, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I think you’re meeting them where they are with the knowledge they have, and you’re collectively helping to guide them. In contrast, they guide themselves through a journey of discovering the right solution to meet theirs.
Pam Didner: Yeah. I agree with you. I usually tell my clients that you know what, even though the buyers are in control. Still, as a marketer and as salespeople, we are also in control. We can control. Why do we want to create content-wise? We can control what we want to say by Messaging wise. We can control how are we going to reach out to the channel?
And campaigns wise, I told my client yes. Stuff that you can do still influence and then change the mindset. But just bear in mind, like you said, that buyers have a whole lot more information, and you need to step. Kind of step up to that challenge, right? Just like you said, they have more information. Well, you know, what, can we educate ourselves and know our competitors a whole lot better? Right. Can we create a battle card a whole lot better? Can we create content that solves the problem, as you said?
So I think in a way it elevates sales and marketing, they need to be in a better position. Overall it’s, I guess it’s good for everybody, But just to get it, there is so much work for marketers. Also, salespeople are still used to what they do things and, uh, to get to that next stage, you have to step up. And that takes a lot of time and effort, and budget as well. Right? Yeah. I hear you. So, why don’t you tell us how people can find you.
Mark Emond: Uh, it’s easy today, digital!
Pam Didner: (laughs) Just type your name! On Google!
Mark Emond: Exactly. Asked my daughter. Um, so they can go to demandspring.com, and they’ll find out all about our team and our services there. They can look me up on LinkedIn. Uh, I’m on Twitter, as well—although most of my tweets are about basketball coaching, which is a part of my passion in my spare time. Or they can reach out to me through email at Mark@demandspring.com. I’m happy to talk to anyone.
Pam Didner: And I know that you started a passion project.
Mark Emond: Yeah.
Pam Didner: You want to talk to us about that? I thought that was a very nice project and a great initiative. So talk to us.
Mark Emond: Yeah, and we’re delighted to have you as, as part of it. So it’s called Leap.
Pam Didner: L-E-A-P, right?
Mark Emond: You can go to demandspring.com. You’ll see it on the homepage. And what we’ve done is we’ve brought together an incredible assortment of CMOs and subject matter experts, thought leaders, authors to be advisors to our clients. The typical projects we do are sales and marketing alignment projects. Building an ABM strategy or content strategy or content development, or implementing technology like Marketo for clients.
This isn’t deep project work. This is advisory. Leap is all about engaging with CMOs and their marketing executives and their teams to provide advisory and education workshops on problems that keep the marketing executives up at night. If you’re trying to figure out how do I align my MarTech strategy to my marketing strategy and determine where I invest my dollars in MarTech, how do I better connect and engage with my customers throughout the customer life cycle? Or how do I better align marketing and sales? We’ve got a team of folks like yourself and others who have been long-tenured CMOs and subject matter experts across various marketing disciplines. They can engage with them and help them talk through the challenges. Be a sounding board, a sober second set of ears and eyes in what they’re doing, and then help drive an agenda and education throughout their teams’ workshops.
We did about a year’s worth of research to understand what CMOs thought. You know, there’s a long been analyst advisory, and I’ve been a client of analyst advisory. I love the research that many analysts do. I think what we’ve heard through our research process was that analysts’ advisory often can be not as pragmatic.
Pam Didner: Yes. It’s very theory-driven. I talked to some of them as well. I mean, given that both of us being the trenches before, and now we are doing consultant work. I have come to realize a lot of analysts their recommendation is very much a theory. Even they created a framework. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And they, I don’t think they have the opportunity to tell test it. Maybe they do, but, um, some of the framework I have seen and was like, um, I’m not sure.
Mark Emond: Yeah. That’s, that’s the premise behind launching Leap. You know, we, um, some people love, uh, obviously, you know, analysts sit there like Forrester and Sirius and gardener raid. There’s a lot of people that love their marketing analysis, research and advisory. And then others that, like you just said, just find it’s not pragmatic. It’s super hard to implement. It’s complex, right? So we’re not necessarily going to be for everyone, but we’re in our first month and a half. We’ve got some really good initial traction from CMOs and other marketing executives who feel like we’re on the right track.
Pam Didner: Excellent. Excellent. And good luck with your initiative. If you know, maybe it will come back in a year or two and give us another update and then share some of the learnings and also, you know, enlighten us again. This is great. Before I let you go, I would like to ask you one question. What is the one place that you always wanted to visit and never did?
Mark Emond: That is a great question. I’ve had the good fortune of visiting throughout my career many, many places. I’m going to give you two if I can break the rules. So one, one is a place I’ve visited but not visited. And that’s New Zealand.
Pam Didner: Oh, that’s on my bucket list as well! My goodness. I went to Australia. I never went to New Zealand. All right. Great. Great suggestion. Go ahead.
Mark Emond: Did you go to Australia on personal means or business?
Pam Didner: All right. So whenever I travel, I try to combine business and personnel. I will go there for business, but I will stay some extra days on my dime, take on my vacation days, and just stay for like four or five days. And I did that actually in Australia. I went down to the, um, you know, the Outback–like the central part of Australia. And I kind of did odd this, like very rustic camping for five days. And let me tell you a story. You’re going to laugh. I was there actually to speak. And then after speaking, I immediately got on the flight, and the flew to like the Outback. (I cannot remember the town’s name, but it’s literally in the middle of nowhere. I mean, when you land it, you can see like the airport. There’s nothing else.)
So everybody was fully prepared for a camping trip. All right. Everybody like full gear. And here I am showed out with my business bag, my computer and my luggage. (Mark laughs) Nobody showed up that way, except me. They were like, “oh my God, this girl needs a lot of help!” (both laugh)
Mark Emond: I have a sense that you did just fine, though. Pam.
Pam Didner: I did just fine, but they were like, “this person is gonna join us? What if we run into a problem?” I had nothing. I did not even have a hat. “Somebody lend me a hat!” Go ahead. Sorry to cut you short. Go ahead.
Mark Emond: So, I went on business to New Zealand and Australia many years ago. Not what you did. I didn’t do the Outback. Um, I think I didn’t have camping stuff and didn’t even attempt to. I love your spirit. Um, but I spent, spent some extra personal time in Sydney, which was great. But New Zealand, unfortunately, I flew in there, and I did like the three big cities, uh, Christchurch, Auckland, and Wellington in three days. And if was like all business. Right. But, so yeah, I saw enough driving to business meetings to know, “wow, this is what I want to come back to.”
So that’s number one. And then the second place, as I mentioned, I’m a basketball coach. I’ve never been to a March Madness final four, and I’d love to do that.
Pam Didner: Okay. Hey Mark, thank you for joining me on my podcast and sharing your insight and wisdom. I appreciate it.
Mark Emond: Yeah, thank you, Pam. This was great. I enjoyed the, uh, the conversation, your energy, enthusiasm, and your stories about camping in the Outback.
Pam Didner: Total disaster! (both laugh)