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How To Quickly Align With Your Chief Revenue Officer

Posted February 14, 2024
Dark background with headshot of Dale Zwinzski with title of podcast "How To Quickly Align With Your Chief Revenue Officer"

Dale Zwizinski, Co-Founder & GTM Officer of Revenue Reimagined, joins our host, Camela Thompson, Go-To-Market Thought Leader and B2B Insights Expert, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Dale shares the behaviors he would like to see from a new marketing leader and what sales should do to make their onboarding easier.

I would love to hear from you what you want to see from a marketing leader coming to an organization as a CRO.

“As a sales, revenue, CRO leader, I like to get in the sales calls and to be in the middle of the conversations. This is like hearing from the customers first hand. There are too many times when I see a lot of the marketing people making decisions, but not having the ability to have conversations with the customers, the sales team, and the customer success team.

“I like to get into every stage of the sales cycle through regular sales into post-sales and then hearing back from the customers. Often we define ideal customer profile (ICP), buying personas, and value proposition, but is it really resonating? And we do a bad job in the sales world, by the way, articulating that back since we’re always onto the next customer, onto the next deal, or whatever it is. And we don’t spend the time to go back to say hey, marketing, maybe we need to switch it up for A, B, C. So if a new marketing leader was coming in, I would hope they would come to me as a CRO and say, hey, do you mind if I sit on some calls? Do you have some gong recordings? Can I listen to what the customers are saying so that we can generate content based on reality?”

I’ve seen things in early-stage startups. I don’t know if you’ve seen this beyond that genre, but I have seen too many people take the word of the people around them on what ICP is. There’s also a lot of recency bias and chasing the whale that may not be a long-term great fit as opposed to actually digging in, looking at customer data, looking at churn data, and figuring out who is a good fit and then testing that. 

“Or it might be they defined the ICP 18 months ago, and many things can change potentially for the organization. What are you trying to accomplish? What are the churn rates? If we’re getting high churn, then it may have started from marketing, but we’re blaming customer success, for example. It could be sales. There are a lot of places where we could have had challenges in churn numbers and we need to figure out if we are marketing to the wrong people. Are we saying the wrong things? Are we promising too much on the sales side? Do we not articulate it well on the marketing side? So what I see a lot is people saying my ICP is eighteen months old. You should at least touch the document and open it every six months and validate.”

I saw a recent statistic that 63% of buyers feel like sales don’t understand the problem they’re trying to solve. I don’t know if that’s really a sales issue. To me, marketing should be digging in, analyzing those customer calls, and providing sales with additional guidance and intelligence, right?

“Yeah potentially. I mean there’s a bit of that there, a bit of being able to do a little bit of your research from a sales perspective and know what the problem is. I think it is in the fundamentals where we make the mistake. What’s the original origin story? Or why did we create it? What is the value proposition around that origin story? How do you build a buying persona and an ICP for that value proposition that people can then leverage and make revenue, reduce time, or whatever the value proposition is driving that for that individual ideal customer profile section of people? That is where I go. We think we’ve built or done the foundation, but we haven’t done it well enough.”

That is why I cringe when we try to get automated outreach sequences in place before we do that work. It’s burning equity.

“And right now, Google’s going to burn your domain by February 3rd. If three emails out of a thousand get flagged as spam, they’re going to mark your domain as spam.”

Many people are saying, well, that is for individuals only. I haven’t seen an official statement that says so.

“Yeah. I wouldn’t want to test it. I’ll put it that way.”

It’s not just one or two salespeople. It’s the entire company that gets shut off. So it is not worth testing it.

What are some of the things that marketers can do to build bridges?

It is a two-way street. We always look at one way or the other, what can marketing do? What can sales do? I think above marketing and sales, let’s align goals. Can we measure concretely how good leads are coming into the funnel that we can close and we are all aligned and agree on it? Then, we don’t get into the pointing place where we say marketing is sending bad leads or sales cannot close. Let’s get the communication right. I always believe in aligning expectations early on and visiting them often. And by often, I mean weekly basis. We’re talking about annual reviews or biannual reviews. Let’s figure that out on a weekly or monthly basis. Once you get the snowball rolling down the hill, it’s really hard to stop. If you can set expectations super early – this is what I need from you Mr. Sales Leader, and Mr Marketing Leader.

“As a CRO, you’re the person who would break a tie, for example. And then, just make sure everyone’s aligned and there’s no eroding. However, it starts with aligning the goals and targets for both organizations and ensuring that those are aligned. Oftentimes, I see marketing’s goals one way and sales goals the other way, and that will never create synergy.”

Oh my gosh! I can tell you from personal experience early on I had to set some lead goals since we didn’t have measurement capabilities. As soon as I could tie it to pipeline and revenue, the behavior of my marketing team changed for the better. I’ve also seen in every single company that I’ve been in the sales team complains about the quality of leads and marketing complains about them not following up. And when somebody in marketing starts saying we want to improve the quality, can we sit with you and get feedback, can we add a feedback mechanism in our systems? What can we do to get that better? I think everyone’s really on board.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable. We think it’s unreasonable. By the way, let’s bring customer success to the table and figure out if people are churning, and why are they churning. It may be the product. It could be multiple things. But if we don’t know that it’s potentially a bad fit, marketing will keep dumping potential opportunities or leads into the sales funnel. Salespeople are converting them falling out of the bottom of the funnel from a churn perspective. So if we don’t get everyone at the table and conclude that this customer is probably going to churn in twelve to eighteen and not be profitable, do we want them in our funnel?

The answer to that is maybe we still need them. Depending on what stage of the company you’re in, you might still need more of those people in the funnel. But at least we’re on the same page. I used to do it biweekly. It started weekly and then went biweekly, to do a deal room. It would be an open time because everyone’s so busy. Every other Friday, we would have a deal room for an hour. I would be there and all the top deals that were important, the CEO would potentially pop in, and the AE would run the deal. Product would be in there. Marketing could join if they wanted to but everybody would rally around a deal. If we needed a decision from the CEO on whether we are going to go after this deal or not? It starts at the top. Therefore, if the CEO says yes, we need this deal even if it may not be potentially profitable, we will still be aligned at that point and we can document it, push it through, and then if they churn, the reason for that churn could be we knew that, they weren’t really a good fit.

“Then, you can do better moving forward because you have the data. Too many people are building go-to-market on gut. I believe this, but what is the data? Well, the data was wrong, okay. Then why are they using the data? The data definitely could be wrong. However, we have to be reliant on the data.”

For more content on B2B marketing trends, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.

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