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  • Writer's pictureWill O'Brien

Can Sales & Marketing ever speak the same language - 4

Can Sales & Marketing ever speak the same language?

In 2020 I created a series of posts covering 8 topics on the relationship between Sales & Marketing and why alignment frequently fails to work at the coalface. The backdrop to this post as follows:

Over the years if you asked any CEO or CFO in a B2B Tech company if they have achieved perfect alignment in the Sales and Marketing function and you are likely to hear something like this:

It works ok

It could be better.

It’s hopeless and we have gone through several VP’s in both Sales & Marketing and it’s still broken

It’s our highest area of cost

So, why is the combined overall effectivity patchy with so much money being wasted? Previous posts covered 6 areas where things fail - Ego and experience, measurement, customer intimacy, communication not consultation, honest feedback, and global versus local as 6 key barriers to progress.

This post covers two more topics around getting value for money from your own marketing spend:

Making your money work harder and getting 20% more money through MDF and collaboration

In the B2B tech market many companies generate value through implementing or distributing technologies from mainstream vendors. The tech industries main developers and product manufacturers hold marketing development funds or MDF to drive product or solution adoption.

Over the last 20 years the Tech Software industry has been dominated by ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) providers like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Sage, Infor, and Oracle NetSuite. These mammoth companies have developed partner and VAR ecosystems to deepen their market penetration. This approach has been copied by many best of breed software providers with Sales Force, ServiceNow, Workday, FIS Global, Shopify, SAS, Adobe, and Atlassian et al being well known software brands. Each firm has developed a partner service eco systems to deepen market coverage and to meet demand for implementation services.

The main product and service companies like AWS, IBM, HP, Intel, Dell, VMware, Red Hat, Oracle, CISCO, Xerox, Netapp, Symantec, Citrix, Zebra, et al all-use partners to achieve their goals. Their resell efforts are supported by volume VAR’s or VAD’s who also provide co funding and collaboration incentives.

Software and Product Developers rely on partners to help them distribute and sell and reward partners with MDF. These funds can easily equate to an additional 20% of funding to supplement your own marketing investment. Over the years I have continually seen companies miss the opportunity to access these funds, with money being left on the table.

So, if you are a CEO or CFO spending hard earned cash on marketing ask your CMO or Marketing Director what they are doing about capturing MDF incentives.

If you spend £1 million you could be getting a further 20% or £200k if you know how to ask the question!

Effective PR (Public Relations) and not wasting 20% of your marketing budget on wasted PR fees.

Another frequently misunderstood area and a massive area of marketing cost is how to harness and generate brand awareness through effective PR and social media strategies. Over the years I have worked with 7 PR agencies including talented in house press relations teams, (you know who you are!). Some of these firms were great partners but over half were of little value which was criminal when they took 20% of the marketing budget.

B2B firms that consistently succeed, and grow are the ones that have figured out that your customers are your best salespeople. Those who take a long term approach to customer satisfaction they will create a virtuous circle of good. Customers who are generally happy will collaborate but will usually want something back and that is ok!

Sadly, in 2021 there are plenty of B2B tech firms that obsess around new name acquisition and forget to invest in the existing customers that they have already signed.

When they want to drive PR, they typically sign the agreement, then expect the PR agency to magic up customer news stories. You may get lucky and be able to get some of the more flexible customers to collaborate with your new PR agency. Having said that, you need a pipeline of consistent customer stories not for 1-2 quarters for a consistent flow of customer success stories over numerous quarters and years.

Press editors, in my experience want real customer stories, not statements about the next generation of products you are releasing, or how you are taking market share.

History proves that great PR comes from having an agency that is pushy, active, and always looking for an angle to use your point of view or your customer references.

So, if you decide to invest in PR, (and you should) you need to actively drive the agency and do a few things well:

Make sure you target all your customers as potential case studies not just your biggest firms or the ones who are the easy ones to recruit.

Make sure you are available to talk to the agency and give them a point of view. If you are leading a technology firm and are time starved, then appoint one of your team to be the spokesman. Delegating this to one of your managers or a talented member of staff is a great development opportunity for many people.

Make sure your spokespeople are credible and have at least 1-2 hour’s media training and coaching.

Push yourself forward and make the effort to win awards in your industry.

Great PR comes from being actively invested in the outcome and treating your agency as a true extension to everything you do.

So, I end this post with two simple questions:

Do you want to get 20% more marketing spend without paying for it?

Do you want to avoid wasting 20% of your marketing spend on ineffective PR?

If you like this post, please like and share and contact us should you need to know more!

Will O’Brien – Founder and lead author Day Five Consulting

Authentic Training Delivered

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