Sales and marketing alignment for B2B tech & SaaS companies

This live FINITE debate answered the question: should sales and marketing be aligned under a single Revenue Operations (RevOps) function? 

The debaters questioned the role of a chief revenue officer and wondered if they are the key to sales and marketing alignment. They discussed alternatives of leaders who could manage both marketing and sales, and agreed on the need for a background in and understanding of both. Finally, the panel discussed how sales and marketing alignment can be achieved with a RevOps function. 

Should a CRO align sales and marketing?

To hear more sales and marketing alignment insights from the debate, FINITE members have access to the full discussion – Apply here for a free membership and join B2B tech marketers around the world to expand your career.

FINITE Fest, the free one day virtual conference covering B2B tech marketing trends, was proudly supported by 93x.

Here are the key takeaways: 


When is the time to switch to a revenue driven model?

Pro RevOps: The timing depends on the lifecycle of the company. However, the sooner you start investing in a revenue methodology the better. Execs should always be thinking about the business holistically from the start. 

If you are a young startup, it doesn’t make sense to have such separately defined functions like sales and marketing, because you’re already in an intimate engagement with the sales organisation. 

“You’re all in it together to get to the next stage.” – Shallu Behar-Sheehan, CMO at Truata

However, in a large corporation, the sales organisation usually has their own focus separate from the marketing focus. If you want to drive customer experience, the best ones come from customer intimacy. To get true customer intimacy, you have to be embedded and in sync as an organisation. When you’re fragmented, it comes through in the customer experience. 

Listen to this podcast to learn more about RevOps

Anti RevOps: For very early startups, you should start with a marketing professional. So many startups hire so many salespeople before they even have one marketer. This is backwards! Marketing professionals should be hired to understand the customer and establish brand and messaging for the market. 

Often the marketing role is the one that gets squeezed out so if you don’t have a head of marketing alongside a head of sales, you’re going to start failing from day one. Marketing is touching customers as much as the sales team so you have to start off with marketing. If you get the balance right from the start, then there’s no need to have one person leading both. 


Do B2B tech organisations need a CRO? 

Pro RevOps: There’s not enough information to prove that RevOps works in a large organisation. The systems and processes that are already established are going to be more sophisticated, so it’s hard to turn that on its head. 

If you’re not hitting quota consistently for at least four quarters, you don’t need a CRO. Focus on bringing in these positions and processes based on how many accounts you have that are close to the ICP. 

Anti RevOps: CRO positions are ultimately heads of sales positions. There needs to be clarity with leaders in the space to define a CRO if they’re managing marketing and sales and what background they should have. 

“When people talk about a RevOps function, it often means it’s a sales function and that means it’s going to be seller dominated by default.”Scott Allen, Global Marketing Development & Strategy Director at Microsoft

Marketing attribution

Pro RevOps: Now when we’re looking at marketing, due to attribution technology we can now track annual recurring revenue. Then when you bring in ABM and you try to create an ABM footprint, you’ll realise you can’t do it on your own as a marketer. You need to work with sales to understand the joint audience. 

The CRO does tend to pivot toward sales, but to get the two functions to be organic in their approach, they can only do it if they share a common purpose. 

Anti-RevOps: You can align your marketing to sales plays by informing marketing decisions from sales insights. You don’t need RevOps to do this, you can just align the two functions with the same objectives from the start. 


What role should lead sales and marketing as a unified function? 

Pro RevOps: CROs are now expected to know everything about everything in the business. Let’s be more forgiving for the CROs who don’t have the entire package. We need to set our expectations accurately and understand that not all executive leaders will have decades of experience in every function of an organisation. They should have experience scaling businesses repeatedly. 

If you have a CRO, your company is most likely going to scale based on sales led growth. 

On the sales side, it’s a CRO, but on the marketing side you’re seeing things like Chief Customer Experience Officer. All these new variations of titles, but CRO doesn’t definitively equate to a tying leader of marketing and sales. 

When the role evolves and defines itself further, the leader of both sales and marketing will genuinely understand both sides. They’ll understand sales numbers, and from a marketing perspective what aspects have to be built and nurtured. 

Listen to this podcast to learn more about sales and marketing alignment

Anti RevOps: We are disconnected from the sales team, so we don’t do ourselves any favours. Including where we sit in an office. There are a lot of marketing leaders who don’t understand the finances of a business. A lot of CMOs should call themselves Chief Growth Officer, which includes a lot more than running marketing campaigns. Not enough marketing leaders have reinvented themselves. 

If you look at the workplace now, there’s been a change in the types of people being hired. As technology drives marketing, we need to be evolutionary people who adapt to these changes. We need to be open to what the possibilities are. 

With the inbound movement of the early 2000s, we had to reinvent digital marketers, but a fusion of sales and marketing could be the future. We’ve got to understand the plays and know what resonates with the target audience. 

To align with sales, you can use shared tools like HubSpot, and shared meetings to get in each other’s camps. The skill sets and junior marketers that are coming up and entering the field are very different now. 

Here’s a written interview and a webinar on sales and marketing alignment!


How do you achieve sales and marketing alignment without acting under a single function? 

Anti RevOps: Understand what the business is trying to achieve and start with business priorities first. Often as marketers we run campaigns to drive leads and revenue with case studies etc. Of course revenue and growth is the main goal of the business, but the customer experience could be important too. What priorities exist for specific products?

Then you start to agree on what the outcomes are and how you’re going to report back on campaigns. Sometimes marketing reports mean nothing to sales and vice versa. Alignment up top trickles down through teams. 

Open, communicative, collaborative style so that employees are all behind what sales and marketing are trying to achieve together. Shared tools, shared insights and an understanding that more than one person in a company will touch the customer. 

If you’re not interested in RevOps for sales and marketing alignment, try building your own team of marketing development reps.

The debaters were Shallu Behar-Sheehan, CMO at Truata, Lorena Morales, VP of Marketing at Go Nimbly, Jenifer Kern, CMO at Qu, Scott Allen, Global Marketing Development & Strategy Director at Microsoft. Moderated by Alex Price, Founder of FINITE


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