Qlose is an interview format that meets the best experts in sales reps to find out how they contribute to their company's sales performance.
For this eighth episode, Qobra welcomes Lucile Foucart, Sales Director and Alix Prudhon, Marketing Director France and Southern Europe at Contentsquare. In this episode, they'll be sharing their methods, advice and best practices for aligning your sales and marketing teams!
1. The context
Can you introduce yourself?
Lucile Foucart, Key Account Sales Manager at Contentsquare for the past 2 years. Before that, I spent 7 years at Salesforce, and before that, 7 years at Microsoft, always in sales reps.
Alix Prudhon, Marketing Director for France and Southern Europe at Contentsquare for 1 year, but I've been with Contentsquare since 2017. Before that, I worked for Maison & Objet for 4 years.
What is alignment between Sales and Marketing? Why is it so important?
It's a fascinating topic, and one that we both love!
In our view, alignment between Sales and Marketing is first and foremost a shared vision of the business. These are two departments with business priorities that are defined and aligned with KPIs and objectives.
In practical terms, this means monitoring the life cycle of a lead, a meeting and a deal.
Secondly, alignment between Sales and Marketing is essential for three major topics:
- Helping and addressing customers and prospects in the right way, at the right time and with the right content
- Helping sales reps reach new contacts
- Ensuring the profitability and relevance of marketing initiatives
Next, we need to define the stages in the process of achieving these three objectives.
2. Steps to follow for perfect alignment between Sales & Marketing
What are the essential steps to follow to create synergy between Sales and Marketing?
The first stages will be devoted to defining the KPIs. When we talk about new contacts, the number of events, profitability, etc., we need to define the KPIs to be monitored to ensure the right synergy between the two teams. We need to define the KPIs to be monitored to ensure good synergy between the two teams.
Secondly, to ensure that there is a focus, a link between Marketing and Sales, and that there is genuine co-construction, communication is a key aspect!
Finally, the roadmap part is essential for anticipating and adapting our strategies according to the year, the priority industries, local events in each sector, etc. You need to be agile in certain areas, and so you need to co-construct the roadmap.
For example, we recently focused on the luxury goods industry, so we took part in events to do a bit of evangelism, wrote a chapter in the book Luxe and Digital and had LVMH speak at our last CX Circle event. Inevitably, the Sales and Marketing teams worked together to bring this strategy to fruition.
Preparation is the key to achieving perfect alignment between Sales and Marketing!
How do you communicate between Sales, Marketing and C-Levels?
At Contentsquare, the hierarchy is fairly horizontal.
We're also big believers in rapid exchanges, and to achieve this we use Slack and very little email. This enables us to provide our sales reps with the speed of execution that is essential for pipeline management, deal closing and tracking difficulties.
At Contentsquare, face-to-face meetings are also a priority. It's essential to get the Sales and Marketing department working together in the same open space, speaking the same language and working as a single team. It's a great way to encourage exchange, mutual support and celebration!
What KPIs should be monitored to ensure alignment between the Sales and Marketing teams? How have they been constructed?
The basis of a trading company is to have objectives to achieve.
At Contentsquare, these objectives are broken down into growth quotas and retention quotas. These two objectives are then broken down into more precise figures and quotas.
Then, the second type of KPI, which will drive the whole roadmap and the organisation we are going to put in place behind it, is how to achieve them. In concrete terms, depending on the industry, we will have what we call the pipe coverage that will enable us to meet these growth and retention objectives.
Depending on the territory, there is a need for pipe coverage X2, X3, X4 depending on its maturity, history, growth, etc. in order to achieve the target set.
Each sales rep must therefore work with the marketing team to develop a strategy for achieving the necessary pipe coverage and reaching objectives. This involves the events to be organised, the objective (growth, retention), the type of contact to be reached, etc.
Then, depending on the stage at which each prospect progresses through the sales funnel, there is the whole strategy of influence that Marketing will have in association with the sales reps to move the deal forward to the next stage, right up to the signing of the contract.
When it comes to events, there is also a whole range of KPIs to monitor to ensure success. In addition to the target number of participants to be reached, there is the individualisation of this objective by source of acquisition and by sales rep, so that everyone is involved in the events and their results. KPIs include the number of registrations, the number of no-shows, the number of Meetings at events, etc.
Finally, there's also the whole digital and content side, which is very important. We need to track and analyse all the content consumed by prospects and customers, and keep our sales reps up to date. You need to provide them with real time, personalised monitoring of their customer portfolio. This is vital if you want to move a deal forward or relaunch it!
What routines need to be put in place to ensure alignment between the Sales and Marketing teams?
At Contentsquare, there are weekly meetings with all the sales reps, at which Marketing presents their key figures, as well as upcoming events, their various objectives, actions to be taken, etc.
Meetings are also held for each sales rep team, and depending on their schedule and future needs, specific marketing operations need to be worked on. For example, for the key account sales rep team, we need to work on more personalised gifts for the festive season, as they represent a much higher proportion of sales.
It is important to hold meetings by account size and/or by industry with members of the Marketing department, to work together on the trade fairs to be attended, the year's operations, and so on.
At Contentsquare, we also hold what we call a 'War Room' once a quarter. This is a cross-functional meeting that brings together the SDRs and Marketing to discuss a pre-defined theme.
In concrete terms, the aim is to work on an event, a project or content around this theme. For example, for the arrival of Christmas, the Marketing team brainstormed ideas for content before the War Room, while the SDR team identified the right contacts.
Then, in the "War room", we created campaigns with specific content that we sent to the contacts we had identified.
The "War room" system allows you to prepare and plan better, but also to get out of your routine, to create emulation and real cohesion between the Sales and Marketing teams.
How is the allocation of opportunities generated by Marketing managed?
The attribution of opportunities generated by marketing has evolved considerably over the last few years, and we've done a lot of 'test and learn'.
Firstly, we track all the activity in our CRM, all the marketing activities, whether it's downloading content, a request for a demo, contacts who have come to an event, and so on. Secondly, there's real collaboration with the SDR team, who deal with prospects, where each prospect's marketing activity is attached to and tracked by an SDR.
It's vital to have a single tool for tracking Marketing and Sales activity, as this makes communication and prospect development much easier. Everyone has access to the same data in real time, which is essential for keeping up to date with the latest activities of each contact.
The data can be used to justify certain choices and prove the ROI of marketing actions, so that the overall strategy can be adjusted over time.
This also avoids any friction within the teams, as the precise, in-depth data makes it possible to explain transparently why an event may or may not be repeated.
3. Marketing events
How can sales reps increase the number of invitations to a marketing event?
Firstly, at the beginning of the year, we need to provide all sales reps with a list of the events that are going to be organised during the year and those in which we are going to participate, as well as the reasons why.
Secondly, it's important to remember that sales reps are generated well before the start of the quarter, so it's always important to think ahead. By sharing all the events upstream, sales reps can see which events are most relevant to their prospects by theme, industry or account size. They can then get in touch with Marketing to take things further and personalise the event, for example by organising a lunch or dinner following the event.
Each sales rep must make the events their own, depending on their customer and prospect base! After that, you need to give free rein to personalise the programme so that you can provide the best possible support to each sales rep, asking them what they would like to do, and adjusting the programme according to the budget available.
What must Sales do before, during and after a marketing event?
Often, as managers, we naturally carry out a whole series of tasks without realising it, and we think that this is logical. However, we need to be able to list them and explain them to the sales reps so that they can reproduce them in turn and maximise the impact of a marketing event!
The first thing, whether before, during or after an event, is to adopt an open attitude. It's important to remember that most people who come to events don't know anyone.
Then, if you don't know what to do, you have to refer to your manager, to other people, watch how they behave, reproduce their actions and get into the same frame of mind. For example, the manager distributes the coffee to the guests, so don't ask questions. If someone else does something, don't hesitate to do the same.
The essential actions to take before a marketing event
- Getting organised. At an event, there are usually a lot of people, and we can't see everyone. The guests get lost, they don't always know what they're going to see, etc. Good organisation means that you can relax during the event.
- Recommend relevant sessions and testimonials. In practical terms, this means sending a dedicated, personalised agenda to each guest. The customer or prospect won't come if they don't have a dedicated, personalised agenda. You need to recommend the sessions and testimonials that are relevant to them, and possibly arrange a Meetings at a specific location to accompany them.
- Send a calendar invitation with all the information. These days, prospects and customers receive invitations to events on every topic. So you need to make sure there's an invitation in their diary that includes all the logistical information.
- Invite several contacts. If you have a number of contacts at your customer or prospect's company, don't hesitate to write an email and send an invitation to all your contacts. This way, they know who is coming and who they can meet on site. It's easier to get to an event when there are several of you.
- Create a WhatsApp chat. For large events, it may be a good idea to create a dedicated WhatsApp chat with all the participants, or even for each company with the contacts taking part in the event. By offering to add them to a WhatsApp group, we take dedicated support a step further, making it easier to meet people on the spot, and much easier to extend the conversation afterwards.
- Fix a Meetings point. When you send out the invitation, you should give a meeting point at the venue. For someone you've never met, don't hesitate to look at their photo on LinkedIn.
- Prepare a few personalised slides. It's essential to have a quick presentation available, customised to suit the event.
- Prepare a list of all the guests. It's always a good idea to have a list of guests with few details, such as whether they are customers or not, their stage of maturity, industry, etc. Don't forget that at an event, you can bump into anyone at any time.
At Contentsquare, we have standardised our communications to ensure that we have the best possible grasp of all the actions to be taken before an event. We have a lot of events, a lot of marketing activities, and our sales reps are fed a lot of things, so standardising our communications is key.
In concrete terms, we created a document that we called "How to promote", which contains all the specific information for each event, with all the useful actions so that they can contact the right prospect, the right customer, create a dedicated personalised diary, etc.
This document is the same for everyone, it's just the name of the event and the information inside changes, but the structure is exactly the same. In this way, all year round, the sales reps know that they will have this reference document, which will be structured in the same way, with the precise information they need.
The essential actions to take during a marketing event
- Draw up an event brief. Before the event begins on the big day, the whole team is brought together and given a general briefing on the event, including all the essential elements and objectives. Each sales rep is also reminded of the day's Meetings and any last-minute changes.
- Remind them of the attitude to adopt. During an event, it is important to remind the teams that they are performing, they must be open and not be on their computers, except for Meetings.
- Create relationships between guests. Once again, people who come to events are potentially alone; they don't necessarily know anyone. So they need to make connections, and that's the whole point - the sales reps need to act as connectors. It's important to know the jobs and companies of the guests so that you can put them in touch with someone in the same industry, in the same job, with the same issues.
- Take photos of the event and the guests. Most people are very happy to be in the limelight, to take photos, and then to see them in retrospectives or on social networks. It's a way of showcasing your prospects and customers and creating memories. Of course, it is essential to ask for permission.
- Accompany prospects and customers to certain sessions at the event, or even take part with them, and then introduce them to the speakers and comment on the session. An event is all about content, and the sales reps are there to think, to understand their prospects and customers better, and to try and find the answers and solutions they can offer them. During these discussions, don't hesitate to take notes. This will create the perfect opportunity for discussion after the event.
- Post-event debriefing. Some events last several days, sometimes there is an after-work or other event on the same evening, and so on. After the event, we forget the people with whom we had discussions, what we talked about, etc. That's why it's so important to take the time at the end of each event to debrief and note down the important events of the day. What's more, this enables us to pass on important information internally.
The essential actions to take after a marketing event
- Asking participants for feedback. After an event, it's important to get back in touch with your guests and ask them what they thought of it, what was good, what wasn't so good, and so on. As well as renewing contact, this helps you to organise ever more effective events.
- Follow up and relaunch discussions. Don't wait to get back in touch - the longer you wait, the more you lose the substance of the discussion. In practical terms, you should get back in touch a few days after the event.
- Re-launch discussions with people who missed the event. It's vital to get back in touch with people who registered for the event but didn't turn up, to run a telephone and/or email campaign, and to send them the content of the event and the main points.
- Share the event on social networks. A few days after the event, and for several weeks afterwards, it's a good idea to share photos of the event, the content that was presented and feedback, but above all to thank the participants.
4. Essential tools and resources
What are the essential tools and/or resources that enable the Sales team to understand, use and relay Marketing actions?
To structure and standardise communication with sales reps, we use Monday. Sales reps can easily find everything they need, with all the information and details they need for each campaign and event.
We also have our content library on Airtable. Once again, to standardise communication and distribution, each piece of content has a Confluence page, with information about the content, the right link to share, etc., which is directly linked to Passfactory, our content consumption tracking tool, which is itself directly linked to Salesforce.
We update the Airtable and Confluence regularly, so we can make sure we're delivering fresh, up-to-date content.
It's important to only use tools that can be linked to the CRM, as this helps to align the Sales and Marketing teams!
We've also set up a Google calendar listing all the marketing events that sales reps have in their own calendar, so they can look at them at any time. This is often an opportunity to remember them and talk about them with customers and prospects.
5. Advice and best practice
What advice would you give to companies looking to (re)align their Sales & Marketing teams?
The most important thing is to really focus on prospects and customers, and it's vital not to separate the Sales and Marketing teams to achieve this. You have to build together!
The aim is to focus on prospects and customers, to start from their needs and move forward, to co-construct something even more relevant.
You also need to ensure that both teams are aware of the roadmap, that they communicate with each other and that they are all involved.