When I started working in sales as a Business Development Representative (BDR), I reported into marketing. That first step allowed me to be more creative in my role, and left a lasting impression for how important marketing is to sales.
Having the opportunity to really understand the marketing funnel (and not just at a high level) has been helpful in more than one way.
I was new to the FinTech SaaS industry when I was hired as the first BDR at the organization. I had just graduated from Babson College with a business degree. And I had no clue what kind of exciting journey I would embark on.
I didn’t know what SQLs or MQLs were, let alone the function of a demand gen team. I knew I had to ask a lot of questions to fully understand. So I did.
What I found is that few organizations have the kind of sales and marketing alignment they could (and should) have. Alignment (from the top down) means better communication, collaboration and community.
First Things, First: Lay the Foundation for Alignment
After about a year in my role as a BDR I was promoted to an Account Executive and started reporting into the sales organization. Since I had spent a year reporting to the marketing team and worked closely with them, that relationship carried over in my new role.
I have established a great partnership with our marketing team, and we have been able to successfully achieve goals together because of our willingness to work together more effectively.
Some of the things we’ve done together have led to more meaningful conversations with prospects and in return more closed deals over time. Together, we’ve established processes and frequently communicate about the entire sales and marketing process.
At the end of the day, marketing and sales should work together. We are trying to achieve the same outcome — it’s just how we do it that will look different. If we can meet in the middle and talk about the process flow, that will lead to stronger bonds across the departments.
You don’t know what you don’t know, and I thought everyone else in sales had this experience that I had. Apparently, many didn’t. I started asking other sales reps about their experiences working with marketing. I heard a lot of frustrations around the lack of alignment and understanding, and the competition of what qualifies as a marketing or sales inbound.
Clearly, a case needs to be made for why sales reps should spend more time collaborating with marketing.
Working Together for Better Communication, Collaboration, and Community
Three important things I’ve learned from better understanding marketing is that communication, collaboration, and community all matter — a lot.
Communication matters because it can make or break any team. From my observations, over communicating is better than under communicating. We’ve always had clear directions and open communication with our leadership team. Both sales and marketing ops become more effective and strategic when you start with communication between the two.
The reason I love collaborating with our marketing team is that they are open minded and willing to think outside of the box. I am able to bring ideas, brainstorm, and find a way to make the ideas happen together with their support and help. It encourages creativity in sales and strategic focus in marketing.
But it shouldn’t stop there.
If we truly want to make an impact, working together as a team and building a community for our efforts is critical. While there are plenty of ‘subcommunities’ within my org, I look at the marketing and sales relationship as its own community. The relationship requires a trust that everyone part of the community has the best intentions for the relationship (and org) to be successful.
When I co-founded RevGenius, a community for sales and marketing professionals, my experiences reporting to both the marketing and sales team started to make way more sense.
Our members have been able exchange ideas, perspectives, and processes in a way that sometimes isn’t possible within their own organizations. Our members have been able to ask open questions across the various experience levels and departments they work in — from marketers to sales reps and vice versa.
From what I’ve seen, it’s the foundation of better sales and marketing across the board. Here’s to what’s next.
About the author:
Galem Girmay is a UK-based Account Executive for Flywire, a vertical payment solutions company. She’s been acknowledged as one of LinkedIn’s Top 100 Sales Stars in 2020, and is a staunch advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion of women in the workforce. She co-founded RevGenius, a community of sales, marketing, and revenue-generating professionals connecting them with others in the space and content to help them improve. Connect with her on LinkedIn or join RevGenius to chat!