Marketing-Sales Alignment: Real-World Lessons

How Emerging Tech Provider Tintri is Transforming Marketing from Demand Gen to Revenue Gen

Marketing and Sales Alignment. Stick a needle in my eye, right? Wrong. Dead wrong.

CEOs and Boards of Directors rank driving and measuring revenue contribution as the No. 1 marketing priority, according to the Corporate Executive Board. Without working in unison with sales and having joint metrics, marketing is unlikely to significantly influence revenue, let alone prove any positive impact.

We checked in with Travis Goodrich, marketing veteran of HP, Brocade and now high-flying tech provider Tintri. He shares past and present learnings from him and his colleagues about pipeline-building strategies, tracking marketing activities to revenue, and the magic in partnering with the sales team to create more business value. To set the tone, Travis’ opening statement sums it up: “If it were easy, anybody could do it.”

Set the stage: What is the demand gen and pipeline building transformation effort all about at Tintri?

For perspective, Tintri offers a new kind of solution, a new way to approach data storage. This new thinking and approach in a mature market takes education, time and precise targeting. Because Tintri’s value can’t be captured in a single sentence, ad or even campaign, we needed to be in lockstep with sales, who are in a position to do the education and consultation required for the opportunities created.

While the thought leadership and education was cranking up, we needed to still drive new customers and add to the bottom line. This was our commitment to the company and business owners.

In order to make this happen, we needed both a mindset and a process shift to put marketing in a position to build pipeline and contribute to revenue. The first step was locking arms with sales and creating a common vision of how we work together. This included roles, success definitions and complete transparency – the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s very important to share the same core goals and outcome metrics.

Another critical step was understanding and making every marketing activity a “demand generation” activity. Build engagement for demand creation into all channels, campaigns and efforts. For example, if we’re driving traffic to the site, we need to think about how we’re capturing information and converting that traffic. If we’re working with media partners, we need to empower them to do the same, so it goes back to the basics of making sure each campaign has a compelling call to action, communicates to the prospect “What’s in it for them” and not only favorably positions our technology, but clearly articulates how our approach can help them and solve today’s pain points.

This required us to take an integrated, story-telling approach that would build over time, whether it was on our web site, through PR/reading articles, or an email-nurture effort.

What are the most critical focus points in a marketing transformation effort?

There are four areas of focus I’ve seen make a difference.martech business value alignment

  1. Marketing-sales alignment. This is the foundation and everything sits on top of this effort. The relationship has to be one based on trust and complete transparency. Some stuff will work, other efforts won’t. You can’t have finger pointing or somebody on either team fear they’ll be fired when something doesn’t work. Rather, the culture has to focus on “What did we learn?” and “How do we optimize it?” And jointly agree on whether an effort should be changed or killed. Marketing needs visibility into sales and sales needs visibility into marketing activities. Granted, this is easier to do when you have a smaller organization where there are few layers and just a step away from the CEO.
  1. Creation of sales-driven marketing processes. We diligently avoid process for the sake of process. Rather, having clear, agreed upon definitions, metrics and handoff for lead flow, including marketing to inside sales to field sales team. For example, we rarely talk about “leads.” We’re specific and describe “inquiry,” “prospect,” “MQL (marketing qualified lead),” so there’s no ambiguity in our systems or processes. We also use demand gen as a simple descriptor of the group, not to describe marketing’s job nor the broader focus on the pipeline and outcome we passionately care about and work on. And, legacy metrics like SOV (share of voice) and impressions are useful, but only in context of how they drive towards creating a conversation and move prospective customers into pipeline/funnel.
  1. Documenting the important stuff. Because we serve customers through many channels and there are many internal stakeholders involved, having processes and roles defined and documented is key to a well-run, predictable machine. This includes lead scoring and agreed upon success metrics we use to steer the business, especially since we don’t own every piece of the customer buying and sales cycles. This creates a common dialog that starts with data.
  1. A kick-ass, cohesive team: We couldn’t have set-up Marketo in the time we did without the support of a rock star demand generation manager on my team. We wouldn’t be able to align as we do with sales without a great field marketing manager and we wouldn’t have the analytics and data without my marketing operations manager. We’re all working towards a shared goal of making Tintri successful. We get along, we laugh and have fun, but we also work our tails off.

What role does marketing tech play in this transformation or creation?

An important role, for sure. For us, marketing starts and revolves around our web site and the technology we use on the site. Research tells us that 60% to 70% of research is done online; so our job is to provide a compelling reason to come to our site – education, case studies, market insights, product info, or a consultation. This is why search, third-party media partners and social media are important part of our strategy.

We also utilize Marketo as our marketing automation (MA) platform. This really brings alignment with sales because we can implement lead scoring, common definitions, known or unknown prospects and allows us to implement progressive profiling. For example, if we already have their email or contact information, we can ask about current priorities or infrastructure, not their email or contact info again. Technology allows us to deliver more consistently on our goal of a one-to-one experience wherever possible. We can also make recommendations based on what we know about them.

We’ve chosen to keep our data in our marketing automation database and integrate data with CRM. This is a one-to-one relationship and sales has full visibility. This data integration between MA and CRM allows us to efficiently send alerts to sales pros about what has been downloaded, who has been on the site by individual and or by account, so sales people can see “signals” that indicate interest or need that they can act on. The integration also allows sales to suppress communications from marketing and alert marketing that they now own the responsibility to manage. CRM plays a role as we move down the funnel.

Tintri is a fast-emerging company versus some of the big dog marketing orgs like HP and Brocade you’ve worked at previously. What’s the difference? And what do you have to do differently while working at a rapidly emerging company’s marketing leadership team?

There a few things that stand out. First, working in an emerging company simply equates to having more direct accountability; fewer people means there is no place to hide. Everybody knows what everybody does so the spotlight shines brightly on every person. When done well, this creates respect, communications and more collaboration. Those who don’t fit, don’t last.

You also need to be both strategic and tactical, often at the same time. For example, we have to dream up and create the ideas for an integrated program and build and execute the campaigns within Marketo. This also allows us to capitalize on the ability to adapt to dynamic market opportunities and business needs. Case in point, we got the marketing automation platform up and running in just three weeks and we regularly tweak and adapt our lead scoring in collaboration with sales leadership. This fuels even more shared responsibility versus at larger companies where each group has its own objectives and agenda.

You have successes and a few scars. What advice do you have for other MarTech leaders taking the reins to create customers and drive pipeline?

Here are a few things on my list:

  • There’s no silver bullet or cut-paste-repeat formula – you have to make it work for each company, culture and customer set
  • Establish a core group with accountability (versus a committee) to make joint decisions
  • Understand your customers’ journey and map processes and effort around this
  • Test things constantly
  • Ideas come from all kinds of places, keep your eyes and ears wide open
  • It’s not about you or marketing, it’s about the business. Don’t get obsessed with one marketing metric
  • Work closely with sales and always work on relationships built on trust, shared objectives

TravisDirector of Americas Field Marketing at Tintri, Travis drives customer acquisition strategy and regional marketing activities, and works closely with the Americas team to define lead strategies required to hit pipeline targets and execute on local campaigns and field events. In addition, Travis works closely with the Inside Sales team on lead funnel management and the movement of qualified leads from marketing to sales.

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