Sales and Marketing Alignment: The (Not-So) Secret Ingredient for Meeting Today’s Buyer Expectations

To win in an evolving B2B buying environment, sales and marketing teams have to work together, inform each other, and focus on intent data that reveals what buyers want in order to meet the expectations of today’s digitally savvy customer.

In this on-demand webinar, Uzair Dada and Outreach’s Tonille Miller discussed using change management to successfully achieve sales and marketing alignment where teams consistently collaborate, communicate and move towards the same objectives. | Originally aired on September 15, 2022


Key takeaways.


Change management doesn’t happen naturally. You have to do change management work for marketing and sales alignment up front and ahead of time in order to be deliberate about what needs to change.


Prospects don’t come to you to learn, but to finalize the transaction. They’re much more informed. They already know the solution they want to look at, how it works, and often how much it costs.


Do as much co-creation as possible. Do it with them, not to them. Iterate with your marketing and sales teams as you work through changes based on what’s working to avoid the push and pull pitfall. 

HubSpot Video

We need someone to hold us accountable. We need somebody to be critiquing and iterating and giving us feedback in real time about what’s going on. The knowing and doing gap is extremely common.

Tonille Miller • Transformation Practice Leader, Outreach


Tonille Miller_Outreach
Tonille Miller • Transformation Practice Leader, Outreach

Tonille has spent over 15 years as an executive, consultant and I/O psychologist, advising and partnering with leaders to operationalize their business strategy and drive the optimal performance of their organizations and people through digital transformation, change management, behavioral science, hybrid work, culture, talent strategy, employee experience, leadership development, organizational effectiveness and strategic communications.

Uzair Dada • Founder & CEO, Iron Horse

Uzair built Iron Horse from a startup to an award-winning growth marketing agency helping global brands build scalable integrated marketing programs. Uzair is regularly featured in Wired.com, CNET, Demand Gen Report, DM News, eMarketer, MediaPost, Native Mobile and Retail Integration, and has spoken at TechWeek, Marketo Summit and other key industry events.

Episode Transcript

Stephanie Siemens: Hi, everybody. Welcome to today's Coffee Break session: Sales and Marketing Alignment, the not so secret ingredient for meeting today's buyer expectations. My name is Stephanie Siemens and I'm a Senior Digital Marketing Associate at Iron Horse. I'm really excited to introduce our two speakers for today. First we have Uzair Dada, founder and CEO of Iron Horse. Next, we have Tonille Miller, Transformation Practice Leader at Outreach.

Stephanie Siemens: This spring, Uzair and Tonille put on a great masterclass for the sales hacker community on using change management practices to make sales and marketing alignment stick. We got such a great response from that session that we decided to get these two together again. Today, we're going to be doing something a little bit differently. In our recent B2B enterprise growth survey, 54% of all B2B tech marketing leaders stated that marketing and sales alignment is a challenge to successfully executing or seeing returns on your integrated growth marketing programs. Today, we thought we'd dig into that data point a little bit and look at alignment in the context of a real life scenario. First off Uzair, why don't you get us kicked off here? What does marketing and sales alignment around growth even mean?

Uzair Dada: That's a great question. And I think we all get excited about big terms like change management and alignment, but we never always dispel what it really is. To me, I think it's three or four things. One, is it's really alignment at all levels. It's not just leadership, it's not just middle management or managers or senior sales reps. It's really thinking about alignment across the board at all levels of the organization, between sales and marketing people and making sure that whatever they're doing is enabled. Second, is it's not a one size fits all approach. There are different people who have different personalities and different personas that need to be dealt with and managed and worked with in a different way. Third, is it needs to be sustained. I think we talked about it in the last discussion, and I think we'll talk about more today, is it's a marathon and it's not a sprint.

Uzair Dada: You really need to make sure you enable and make sure you put processes and governance frameworks in place that allow you to think about, is it working? Is it not working? What do I do to change? And I think that's some of the stuff that would be great to hear from Tonille, let's do what they're doing, but I'd say those are the core ingredients that we should be thinking about. But most importantly, the biggest area, I think, that people misconstrue is it's an alignment being a CMO and CRO, and it goes way beyond that.

Uzair Dada: Tonille, can you give us your take on change management and why it's important here?

Tonille Miller: Of course, I live eat, breathe and sleep change management, but it's important specifically for this topic because, to your point, if we don't have change management or change management principles in place, it's not going to happen naturally. It's not a natural fit. You would think it would be, you'd want it to be, but it's not. And we need to actually do that upfront work ahead of time, be deliberate about it and how we pull in some of those change management levers, like leaders and messaging and other alignment activities. And I think that for this question specifically, it needs to be a focus.

Stephanie Siemens: Let's get into it. We're going to look at what this looks like in a real life scenario. We are going to put up our first audience poll and your answers will drive where this conversation will go. Here's the scenario, a lead comes in and you get on that first call with them and they say, "I already know about you. Can we talk about pricing?" What do you do? Your answer choices are, A, ask about their needs and buying team, B, ask your BANT questions and schedule time with an AE. Or C, go ahead and give them the demo and share high level pricing. Uzair, while people are answering, what's going on here with these choices?

Uzair Dada: I love this question because I think this is such a huge source of frustration for people and it'd be cool to see what the audience thinks. But I think there is a tension between, do we focus on the customer or do we focus on the process? And I think it'd be interesting to see what people say. I know I have my guesses of what reality is, but I'd love to see what the audience does and what they have seen in the market.

Uzair Dada: It looks like from who has answered so far, vast majority are going with A, ask about their needs and their buying team. Uzair, Tonille, any responses to that?

Uzair Dada: I think if you think about the world today, and I think we had touched on this a bit before, it's become highly digital. It's got much more digital interactions than just physical interactions. The number of interactions has increased, the number of channels where people are seeking information during the buying cycle has increased.

Uzair Dada: As a result, me as a prospect of a buying team or a person in a buying team, at an enterprise, coming to a company is much more informed about the solution I'm looking at, about how the solution works. I actually know the pricing because I've talked to my peers in communities. I actually know a lot before I come to you. I don't come to you to learn about you. I come to you to finalize the transaction, in a lot of cases. But the way we do things today and the way the sales processes are set up is that lead usually comes to an SDR, that, love that soul, probably has invested time in learning and training and going through A, B, C, D, E process of understanding the people's needs, who is in the process? Do you have the budget? What is your need?

Uzair Dada: Yet when I come to you, I'm saying, "Hey, can I get pricing information because I know I'm ready to go?" And then they probably likely in most cases will say, "Okay, great, I have this information. I actually can't give you that. Let me set up another meeting with an AE." And then there's the AE meeting that happens right after that. And the AE, bless his heart, will probably validate what they've learned from the SDR, other than use that information so that you've gone through that process twice.

Uzair Dada: And then they may say, "Generally, based on what you're saying, the pricing might be this." And God forbid, I asked the awful D question, which is, "Can I see a demo?" They're like, "Let me see if I can get a sales engineer for our next call." Now I'm on call number three. Our processes haven't evolved to support the new normal of where the prospects are in the buying process. And they're, in most organizations, not agile and flexible enough. Now companies are seeing it. We have customers where they didn't talk about pricing and demo until call two or call three, like the example I gave. And they've completely shifted to now do the demo in the first call and they've seen their appointment rates and opportunity rates go through the roof.

Uzair Dada: Why? Because they're catering to what the customer is ready with already. And I think most organizations don't do that. I'd be pretty awesome, I think maybe Tonille, you probably have something to say because you guys are enabling that bridge from marketing to sales and enabling that sales process become more efficient with Outreach. What are you all seeing?

Tonille Miller: Can you guys hear me? This platform is so funny. I think it's interesting because I think that what we really need to be doing here is to get marketing and sales to work together, there needs to be some sort of impetus for it. If I'm in from marketing or if I'm from sales, why do I care? Why do I need to work together? We need to figure out and I honestly would say this is the job of leaders, so to your point earlier, the CMO, the CRO, need to be working together at the top so that they are aligned, number one, with each other and goals. And then number two, finding out what is that common vision, as we talked about in our last session, that I would call a co-elevating vision where both sides are going to get what they want, but they have to work together.

Tonille Miller: Leaders, a big role of theirs in this, is really painting that picture for both the marketing team and the sales team as far as if you work together in these ways we're telling you or talking about, these are the wonderful benefits that we're going to see, and you're both going to get what you want, but if you don't do that together, the hole is bigger than the sum of its parts. And I think really painting that vision, and then of course, some of the other change levers we can talk about later on, is a way to get to that point.

Stephanie Siemens: And I think sometimes, Tonille, we know that this new process is a better way of doing things, but it not always happens on the ground in practice. Why is there this gap sometimes?

Tonille Miller: This is a little bit of psych 1-0-1 here for you folks. This is called the knowing and doing gap. This is like, let's say, for example, you want to lose weight or get healthy, I always love this example, because it applies to pretty much everybody, and we all know what the right behaviors are. We know what to do. There's plenty of information out there. We know to eat healthy. We know to exercise, we know these things. That's the knowing, but why do most of us not do it? There's that gap. Why do we need to hire a personal trainer? It's not that the trainer knows more than us, usually. It's that we need someone to hold us accountable. We need somebody to be critiquing and iterating and giving us feedback in real time on what's going on and that sort of thing.

Tonille Miller: And the knowing and doing gap is extremely common. And getting around that and like I said, there's a lot of change management principles that come into play when I go into an organization and we're implementing Outreach or some other change is getting over that knowing and doing gap and getting further on into... Besides just knowing it at an intellectual level, what we should do, we need to know why we should be doing it, how it's going to benefit us, what the impacts are going to be, erasing any uncertainty around, "If I start doing this new thing, partnering with marketing or using a new platform or whatever it is, I need to feel confident and secure in how that changes me." That means I need to be enabled. I need to know again, the why behind it. I need to be held accountable.

Tonille Miller: I need to have any emotional baggage or friction or resistance that's happening in my brain, as far as this change, I need to have all that mitigated. All that upfront work comes from someone who's driving change, whether it's a leader or a change manager or that type of thing. I'll pause there because that was a little bit of a tangent, but I think the knowing and doing gap applies to everything. It's a matter of getting outside of our head, because that's the knowing, getting into our hearts, getting into our souls, whatever you want to call it and getting into some of those other pieces that will actually compel us to want to make that change versus just knowing we're supposed to do it.

Stephanie Siemens: Let's shift gears a little bit and turn to our marketing folks. Let's talk about how marketing can best support the sales team. Let's go into our second audience poll. What is marketing doing at your organization to support your sales team? In other words, how are you partnering beyond the lead handoff? Are you, A, sending a playbook for emails and sequences like drafted copy list to reach out to you et cetera, after webinars and events, providing them a list of ICP attendees, holding regular meetings and check-ins to talk about active campaigns or opportunities, training the team on your intent platform, or none of the above? I hope it's not none of the above. Uzair, while people are answering, can you talk us through these support functions?

Uzair Dada: To me, I think what is awesome is if you think of the best organizations where marketing and sales enablement teams and sales op teams are completely intertwined and connected. It's seamless. And I think there is... Especially now in today's world where I think the field marketing teams that used to be very event centric are becoming much more like sales enablement teams because their goal is to make sure the lead process is smooth from lead gen to the handoffs to the sales team. And then making sure that sales team has what they need on a continuous basis. I think some of the choices we had, good marketing teams are doing all that and then some. They're truly making sure that their counterpart peers have all that information, so that there is no ambiguity, and they can drive that personalized follow up using platforms like Outreach.

Stephanie Siemens: And it looks like from our responses, we've got a good mix. No one said none of the above. Kudos to our audience today. For Tonille, Outreach teaches people to do things in a new way, how do you ensure that people are actually following this new process? And do you need to have a different approach for a different type of employee, for example, an incoming salesperson versus a seasoned employee?

Tonille Miller: It's a great question.

Uzair Dada: I would put a non-PC old guard versus new guard.

Tonille Miller: That's a lot of the work that comes from a change perspective and forgive me, but I'm approaching this from my perspective because that's what I'm doing. And in that regard, when we come in from an Outreach perspective from a change perspective, we're doing a lot of that upfront work ahead of time that I mentioned. To your point, knowing who these stakeholders are, the salesperson, the manager, any other teams that are involved that are going to be touched by this implementation or by any change we're doing, we need to understand them on a persona level. Salespeople, marketing specifically, think about the way that you approach customer experience, it's very similar in that way. We journey map, we do impact assessment. We find out the benefits points of friction, all that stuff so that we really know the people that we're trying to change their behavior with.

Tonille Miller: And in that regard, we do all that upfront work ahead of time. And then we figure out from there, what do they need to do what we need them to do? It's employing a lot of those psychological principles. And then, again, all the different levers that I mentioned from a change perspective with the vision, making sure leaders are setting the tone for this and actually helping their people understand why this is so important. That's another one. Managers and leaders holding their people accountable, coaching in one-on-ones using Outreach, for example, if that's the change we're talking about. And then really when you think about it though, then there's also the measuring of those behaviors and the metrics that we want to see. That's number one, because if we're not measuring and we're not holding people accountable, why would they do it? Unless they happen to see the value on their own, which sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

Tonille Miller: And in addition to that, there's publicizing and keeping that conversation of storytelling success stories of people that are doing well when they're using it and then continuing to sustain that message. It doesn't just stop once we implement a platform or make a change and we, "Go live". That needs to sustain and be ongoing and be part of the conversation. And you need to build it into systems that are already in the organization or in the team. For example, if you have certain bonuses based on X, Y, or Z or incentives or certain policies or current ways of working or whatever, you want to embed any kind of change using Outreach or any kind of other change we're talking about. Whatever you want to see, you have to measure it and embed it in those systems because then they're operationalized, then they're reinforced by the organization. And it's almost like you're designing the environment to help deliver the change that you want to see.

Uzair Dada: I think it'd be interesting to see what's your thought on carrot or stick or carrot and a stick. To me, part of it is yes, I need to have buy in, say, "This is the way. This is the new way we're going to do things," but there still takes resistance to change that exists. And then I think you need to create a certain of sense of FOMO. And by creating examples of, "Hey, my God, X, Y, Z person just killed it because they used ABC. I want to be like them." Versus, what I was saying, the old guard. Old guard is like, "I've been successful. I've been going to Club every year. Why do I need to do this bullshit?" It's like, "I just don't need to do it, because my way works and I don't need to do anything else because I'm a little bit of a know it all. I'm too overconfident."

Uzair Dada: But even they're like, "Hey, you could be so much more, you could do so much more." Or you're saying, "By bringing this in, actually my measurement goals have changed because we think we can do better." Yes, you're good for now, but where we need to go, you're not as good. And to do that, we are enabling you and we're giving you the resources you need to be even better. I think it's a combination of those things and a blend of approach, as you were saying, in an organization to see what works for who. I think a combination of those rightly done is successful on a sustained basis.

Tonille Miller: And I love that you brought that up because a lot of people think there's one way or two ways to do change. We've just touched on four ways. There's more than that. Even beyond that. There's carrots and sticks, there's command and control, there's push versus pull. You've talked about four of those six right there and then there's a bunch of other ones. And exactly that point when I come in and we do this, that's how we spend so much time understanding the people we're trying to change up front.

Tonille Miller: To understand, will it be more effective based on the culture or based on that persona, if we do the push versus pull, if we do the command and control? Some cultures, it does work. We have enterprise clients where they are like, "Nope, we do command and control. It's all we do here." Other clients where it's the opposite where we have to actually start on the bottom and the more junior employees are the ones who actually influence the more senior ones. And to your point, a way to get around that is spending the time front to be deliberate about what exactly you're trying to do, knowing who you're trying to change, knowing what works or doesn't work in the environment they're in as well. And then also I would say, one thing you can never go wrong with is as much co-creation as possible. You're doing it with them, not to them. And you're iterating on it as you go based on what's working.

Uzair Dada: Do you find for it to stick you need embedded change at agents at all levels?

Tonille Miller: I don't think levels is the right word there because, think about it, back in the day, yes, that would be great. But now our organizations are much more networked in nature, not level based, even though some leaders think they are level based, they're actually more network. That's how the stuff really gets done and where the influence really happens is a network. I don't think you need people at all levels, but you need it to be the important touch points. For example, let's say the most influential people are people that are working on this project and they live in this location. Those are the people you want to tap into. Again, it's a lot of that upfront work, but then the change just happens and you don't have to do anything with it.

Uzair Dada: But I was talking about a sales rep, AE, SDR, manager, director, VP, CEO.

Tonille Miller: Everyone has a role.

Uzair Dada: Exactly. To enable to ensure they have the right tooling, they have the right governance frameworks to make sure that they can manage their teams and give them the right answers or coach them the right way. Because if I just do it here at the bottom and don't do it up top, it falls apart because there's no enforcement. You need to do it in the entire pyramid stack to make sure that each level or role has the right set of training and framework to make sure governance and change happens.

Tonille Miller: Exactly. I misunderstood your question, but yes, each one does have a role. For example, at Outreach, one of our best practices is when we're implementing the platform or driving any change, the CRO/CMO in this case or whatever, we would ask them to record a short video or to kick off training, for example. It's not a big ask of the leaders, but the emails come from them, that sort of thing. But then at the manager level, it's more like make sure you're using the platform to coach your people in your one-on-one, that sort of thing. Yes, every level does have a role that is for sure.

Stephanie Siemens: Awesome. All right you two, we are nearing the end of our session already. Uzair, why don't you get us kicked off with some parting advice? And then we'll hand it over to Tonille.

Uzair Dada: The biggest thing I would say is if sales and marketing leaders need to embrace the new normal. The world has changed. You have to adapt. You have to change and you have to do that and throw out the mentality of us versus them as two functional areas and really embrace the... We are partners and growth and what do we need to do to make each other successful? Each side has tremendous amount of information and insight that makes the other side better, but yet we function in our own silos and don't share that information critically. If we came together to say, "Wow, if I had that information, I could do these other pieces so much better," and vice versa, you are all aligned to a single outcome. And I think we had talked about it, I think that last conversation, a lot of organizations are going to a growth dashboard, which is a common dashboard between sales and marketing teams.

Uzair Dada: I'm not looking at marketing metrics or sales metrics. I'm looking at a common set of things that show me success. That doesn't mean we don't have our own underpinnings of different things that feed into it. But once you get aligned to what success looks like, it's a common shared goal. And I think if you enable that to happen, everything else falls into place. And then the last one I think around that is sustain change management, and I think you've heard that theme today, is so critical. That means at all different roles and levels, but also over time. I think if you don't have that in place, you're going to have some blips and blips of interesting success, but it will die down because I think the inertia is against you if you don't have it.

Stephanie Siemens: Definitely, Tonille?

Tonille Miller: What you said was so right on, I would echo all of that. And I think the hard part is, that from my perspective, when you're really trying to drive change in organization, it has to start at that systemic/leadership level. If you're the average marketing person, the average sales person, it's hard for me to say to you, "Yeah, go co-elevate with each other." You can and you should, but you have to have other things in place that enable it. And what I'd say is, as an individual marketer, a salesperson that is not the CRO level, you can do a lot of good in your own sphere. Start working and start partnering, start inviting other people to your meetings and sharing information via dashboard, whatever, being more co-creative in that nature. And, if you can, ask your leaders to start saying, "Hey, how can we get that higher vision that you can rally us all under and behind so we can drive this forward in the organization?"

Stephanie Siemens: Awesome. Thank you Tonille and thank you Uzair for being here today and thank you to all of you watching, our audience. If you're interested in learning more about change management or connecting with our speakers, we're posting their LinkedIns in the chat as well as Tonilles website that has a lot of great change management resources. Thanks again to you all. And we'll see you next time.

Uzair Dada: Cheers. Thanks.

Tonille Miller: Thank you.