Ep. 10: Sal Patalano – Marry Sales & Marketing Ops.

Sal Patalano is back to join Steven in the Chit-Chat Room (patent pending), and besides Sal’s time at the legendary discotheque Studio 54 and his work with the late Steve Jobs, he’s here with a serious message about the strategic importance of learning how to merge sales and marketing operations.  Sal believes that this integration of resources is not a trend and it’s not going away any time soon.

To put it bluntly, “Companies with strong sales and marketing alignment will achieve 20% annual revenue growth, while those without this type of alignment will see revenues decline by 4%,” says Sal.

Sal has the benefit of experiencing the results of this work from both a “startup” and a massive, $60B enterprise perspective, having himself been tasked with getting liftoff of a software division within hardware giant, Lenovo.  Here’s what he has to share with all of you sales and marketing people out there who may occasionally snarl at the folks on the other side of the fence:

Sales and Marketing Operations Have the Same Broad Goals.

“At the end of the day, they’re both trying to do the same – drive revenue and progress deals,” says Sal.  We’re also not really doing anything new; we’re identifying what it takes to help a prospect through our sales funnel and doing our best to align our sales processes to their buyer’s journey.  It makes sense that sales and marketing should work closely.

Many companies compartmentalize sales stages the same way they do their sales and marketing organizations, with clear demarcation where marketing hands off a lead to sales, a structuring error from Sal’s perspective.  “We all own the journey,” he says.  “It’s a sweeping motion.”

The Evolving CRO Role

“One of the things that helps most with the integration is having them report up to a Chief Revenue Officer,” says Sal.  He adds that the qualified C-suiter needs to be fluent in many languages, obviously sales and marketing but also finance, operations, development and other functions relevant to the org.

The CRO’s role is to focus on revenue and the contributing levers of channel, customer success and retention.  Without having these disciplines all reporting up to the CRO, Sal figures it’s nearly impossible to get the departments aligned and bought-in to the vision.

Building Sales & Marketing Alignment

So where is a business supposed to begin in de-siloing these entrenched fiefdoms?  Sal says that a great starting is to bring everyone together to work on a critical initiative.  As the teams start to work together in service of a single, one-time outcome, relationships and interdependencies evolve to form a natural foundation from which to develop a successful merging of sales and marketing operations.

“But it’s not easy, Steve….” warns Sal.

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