Alignment of GTM or revenue-generating teams seems like a no-brainer, right? It simply means everyone in Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service is “rowing in the same direction”. Unfortunately, some challenges make this harder than it should be. More often than not, these hurdles are the result of organizational barriers. Here are six questions that need to be intentionally addressed to set a team up for great commercial alignment and ultimately more growth!
- Who is the customer?
Sometimes there is not a clear definition of who your ideal customers are. Agreeing on target customer segments and key customer roles or titles within those segments is key to gaining alignment. It is also important to agree on which prospects you don’t want to pursue, because they are not a good fit, or you don’t have a good probability of winning their business. Clarify your target and your team is more likely to hit it!
- What is the hand-off process?
Typically Marketing creates awareness and generates demand. Sales takes that demand and turns opportunities into orders. Customer Service (or Customer Success) teams will then help those customers fully use your products and services and assist in increasing the lifetime value of those customers. That sounds good in theory, but the devil is in the details. You need to agree on the triggers for each of those hand-offs to make them seamless.
- When does a lead become a marketing qualified lead (MQL)?
- When does a MQL become a sales qualified lead (SQL)?
- When and how does the hand-off happen?
- What expectations can Sales have of Marketing in this process?
- What expectations can Marketing have of Sales in their follow-up?
- When and how does Customer Service continue the selling process?
- What are the success metrics?
If each GTM team has its own set of goals, they can easily be misaligned. Sometimes they can even be contradictory! For example, if the marketing team is focused on maximizing their MQLs, they may be paying too little attention to which MQLs are eventually turning into won deals. The quantity of MQLs may overload the sales team, so they are chasing after too many deals that simply don’t have a good chance of closing. Generating a high volume of MQLs is not a valid goal; only the MQLs that turn into deals are important, so what characterizes the MQLs that turn into deals? If marketing shares the same revenue goal that sales owns, then perhaps marketing will focus more on the quality of their leads and will drive campaigns that are the most effective at generating revenue in the end.
- What is your common data platform?
Which platforms are being used by your GTM teams? You might be surprised to know there are often multiple systems in play. The core shared platform for all revenue-generating teams is your company's CRM. It should support lead tracking, account and contact tracking, deal tracking, revenue forecasting, case management, and more. All GTM teams need to share the same system, so they can see all relevant touchpoints to prospects and customers as well as the engagement from these current and prospective clients. If you don’t have a solid CRM that is configured for all your commercial teams, you need to think about making that investment – whether it is acquiring a first CRM, upgrading a current platform, or switching platforms altogether.
- Is your organizational culture supportive of alignment?
Some teams recognize the need for alignment, but they are so entrenched in their current silos that they can’t seem to get out of their way. The transformation required may take several weeks or months to accomplish, and it may take a reshuffle of the organizational chart. In fact, you may decide you need to change where some of your teams report. It is becoming increasingly common to have a Chief Revenue Officer or a Director of Revenue Operations. This will transcend marketing, marketing operations, sales, sales operations, customer success, and customer service. Making this kind of change is a big culture shift! Can your team embrace the shift toward alignment?
- Can you balance strategy and execution?
Some of the items noted above are very strategic. Outlining your strategy and executing it can become goals in themselves, so it can be easy to lose focus on business growth. Centralizing your revenue-generating function may cause some distance with your frontline staff. Don’t let that happen. You need to balance your strategic plans and your need to keep selling. Great execution always makes a bigger difference than a great strategy with sub-optimal execution. Your goal is to find the balance that keeps your teams moving forward in an increasingly aligned formation.
If you want to discuss any of these concepts around alignment, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-880-1960. We offer expertise in sales, marketing, operations, CRM, and digital marketing automation platforms. We’d be delighted to help set your organization up for success!
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