Over the past two years, I have immersed myself in two things – sales and marketing webinars and Sesame Street.

It’s an odd pairing, I’ll grant you, but I have two young sons to blame for the latter. For the former, I guess my excuse is to find the right language, the right strategy, and, to be honest, any workable idea I can get my hands on to help my clients meet their growth goals.

So far in this series, we’ve talked about how misalignment across sales and marketing teams makes everyone’s job more challenging, suggested conversation points to create dialogue and collaboration between the two teams, and outlined a potential model for collaborative planning and goal-setting that sets everyone up for success.

This part is one of my favorite questions to ask and answer: what does success look like?

With all of the webinars I’ve participated in (and there have been several great ones!), I’ve heard a ton of metaphors for how this process works well. You’ve heard them – sales is the quarterback, and marketing writes the playbook. Marketing fishes with nets, salespeople hunt with spears. I want to propose a new one – Elmo! The Musical.

For those of you who have been absent from the Sesame Street world for the past few years, there is a new-ish segment called Elmo! The Musical. In some episodes, Elmo works with a stage curtain named Velvet, and the viewers imagine a musical where everyone sings and dances. At the same time, Elmo solves a problem and learns a lesson.

Think about it – what sales and marketing teams don’t want to be singing and dancing together to solve the company’s problems?

Just me? Fair enough.

I like this idea, though, because it allows for collaboration and improvisation but ultimately delivers a well-choreographed final product that delights the customer.

Several processes are ideal to have in place to make sure the show goes off smoothly:

  • Is there a defined and documented sales structure and process that both the sales and marketing teams have easy access to?
    • Does marketing have a go-to person in sales to give feedback on new marketing materials? This would be your theatre critic.
    • Do sales have a go-to person in marketing to share feedback or new customer insights? Think script consultant.
    • If there is overlap in roles, is it intentional and useful for the sales process? Think understudies.
  • Is the right data being shared with the right people at the right time?
    • Do sales know when marketing is running campaigns? Do they have ready access to those campaign results? Where do you buy tickets?
    • Does marketing know when the new business closes or when the business is lost? Is feedback (even anecdotally) being shared across the teams? Who’s showing up on the opening night?
  • Is there a feedback loop with company leadership to show progress on company goals?
    • Do the teams have what they need to reach those goals? Are there roadblocks that leadership can help address? Cue your stage manager.
    • Are the goals still realistic? Curtain’s up!
  • Is there technology in place to support automation, workflows, dashboards, and data-driven decisions?
    • If not, are the teams tracking the opportunity cost of not having a technology solution for things that could be automated or streamlined?
    • If yes, is the technology being used consistently and correctly to deliver accurate insights?
    • (This is where the musical part kind of falls off. You’re welcome.)

Depending on your organization, more processes would bring value here, but I think it’s critical to understand that you do not have to check all of these boxes to get started. I once saw Elmo realize halfway through a song that he needed more characters – he asked the viewers and his friend Velvet to help him imagine them. Having well-aligned sales and marketing teams means they can not only identify problems but craft solutions together.

For instance, I’ve helped our clients build several workaround solutions, particularly in the technology department, where ERP/CRM integration is just not possible. However, sales and marketing still need tools and access to data to get the job done. Through conversation, understanding the challenge, understanding the KPIs, and agreeing on what success looks like, we helped develop a better sales process and freed up valuable sales team bandwidth. The added benefit of workarounds is that they help both teams understand what works, what doesn’t, and what’s most valuable when the company can invest in a comprehensive technology solution.

Again, you know your organization best, and I encourage you to really think about what success looks like to you. Do you need a strategy to transform your business? Or do you need things to work just a little better? Would you sleep better at night knowing you have teams who work well together and help you fuel strategic business growth? (Maybe even putting on an award-winning production?)

We’ve seen increased efficiency, stronger relationships, and, if we’re honest, smarter marketing with our clients when they employ the tactics outlined in this three-part series. 

Kathy Steele


Meet The Author

I am passionate about people, obsessed with helping businesses grow, and love to support the underdog cause in my community. As a business leader, I'm an educated risk-taker who persevered through challenging economic conditions and a business divorce to be a two-time honoree on Inc. Magazines Annual List of America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies.

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