The funnel is no longer split horizontally between marketing and sales duties, explains podcast guest Matt Heinz. Times have changed.

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"It would be easy if we could go back to the days where we said Marketing does the top of the funnel and Sales does the bottom," he says on Episode 570 of Marketing Smarts. "Marketing, just generate awareness and leads. Sales, you close the deal."

But the B2B buying process is complex, and that division no longer makes sense. Today's funnel has more of a vertical division, and each department's priorities are all "jobs to be done."

"Who is defining what market we're selling into? Who is going and building awareness of the problem? There is a job to be done from Sales, there is a job to be done by Marketing, there is a job to be done by your channel partners, etcetera.... Break those down into the components of the body of work. Now you're getting somewhere."

But be sure to track what you're doing and when you do it—because success comes when you can replicate the process, he notes.

"Build a system to be able to predictably do it moving forward. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people hit their number and they predicted their quarter, but have no idea whether they can repeat it....

"What's your sense of confidence that you can do it again this quarter? What are the systems in place that can help you increase reliability, predictability of hitting that number, and doing it as your numbers continue to scale?"

Listen to the entire show from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.

"Marketing Smarts" theme music composed by Juanito Pascual of Signature Tones.

Full Transcript: Mastering Sales and Marketing alignment

George B. Thomas: Let's ask a very serious question. Are your sales and marketing teams aligned? Are you even trying to get them to be aligned? Should they be aligned? Today, that's the topic, Marketing and Sales alignment, insights, strategies, and success indicators.

I'm super excited because I get to sit with Matt Heinz today. We're going to talk about this topic, what keeps Matt up at night, whether it's a dream or a nightmare, we're going to talk about what we actually mean when we say Sales and Marketing alignment, we're going define the conversation before we get started into it. One of my favorite things that Matt says in the podcast is that you can't spend your traffic and you can't buy a beer with an MQL. This is an indicator of how the conversation went. We're going to talk about the potholes, success, and some tips, tricks, hacks, and mindsets along the way, and we're going to get some words of wisdom from Matt Heinz.

Matt is a prolific author and nationally recognized award-winning blogger. Matt is president and founder of Heinz Marketing, with 15+ years of marketing business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He's a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.

Matt's career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with great sales, revenue growth, product success, and customer loyalty. He has helped organizations such as Amazon, Seagate, Morgan Stanley, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many others create predictable repeatable sales and marketing engines to fuel growth. Matt is a repeat winner of Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management and Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencers.

Matt is living through the renovation of a 105-year-old historic farmhouse in Kirkland, Washington with his wife Beth and three young children, dog, and seven chickens. Lucky for you, Marketing Smarts listeners, we didn't listen to the dog or the chickens at all during this podcast. We simply listened to Matt. Let's get into the good stuff.

I'm super excited because today we're talking about mastering sales, mastering marketing, but more importantly, we're talking about mastering Sales and Marketing alignment. Don't tune out yet. I know that this is going to be a very valuable conversation because I am here with the one, the only, the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Matt Heinz.

Matt, how are you doing today?

Matt Heinz: I was better until you promised everyone that we were going to master this. I don't know how much time we have, but I love this topic. I love it when we talk about Sales and Marketing alignment and we get marketers saying, "Is this really for me?" and I'm like oh, yes, it is. Let's get into it.

George: Absolutely. One of the things that I love to do is I love to start with what might be a little bit of an awkward conversation, we're going to go into either your nightmare or your dream. I really want to know what keeps you up at night regarding this topic of Sales and Marketing alignment.

Matt: It's almost relative to what I just said. I worry that people don't take this seriously. That they think that Sales alignment is not a marketing function. I hear people say, "I market into," but I want to hear more CMOs say, "I sell into." Even though your job is marketing, your company sells into a market. Right? This doesn't mean Marketing is subservient to Sales. You play a role in the revenue engine for your organization.

What keeps me up at night is marketing teams that perpetuate the vision that marketing is arts and crafts. We all know that Marketing can be the revenue engine of the business on so many fronts. We have an opportunity to lean into that, and I look forward to seeing more marketers embrace that opportunity.

George: I think one of the things for me, fundamentally, being a salesperson before I became a marketer, I 100% agree with where you're headed and what we're going to lay down this episode. I do however want to level-set, because I understand that people can get confused. We're talking about Sales and Marketing alignment, some people might say that's Sales enablement, some people might think it's something else. For the rest of this conversation, when we are talking about Sales and Marketing alignment, what exactly do you mean, how do you Matt Heinz define the concept of Sales and Marketing alignment?

Matt: It means we're all focused on the same business objective. You can't buy a beer with your MQLs. You can't actually spend your web traffic. We have to focus on outcomes that make the company money. Whether that's acquiring new customers, retaining and extending existing customers, that is the job of everybody in the company.

Instead of saying Sales and Marketing alignment, if we were to talk about revenue alignment, go get the accounting team involved, go get the product team involved, go get everybody in the company supporting that effort. Just because Sales is there when the PO gets approved or when the contract gets signed doesn't mean it's Sales's job alone to do that work. Everybody plays a role.

It doesn't mean that the traditional marketing we do, it doesn't mean that our content and our awareness-building, our thought leadership efforts and our experience-building, that is still just as important, if not more important than ever in a crowded attention-span-constrained world. But we have to align ourselves behind the metrics that matter to the business for us to stay relevant, let alone be valuable and instrumental to the growth and health of the company.

George: Ladies and gentlemen, that might be the first rewind point of this episode. There was so much goodness in there. You have to understand that foundation.

Matt, I was over here giggling when I heard you say you can't spend your traffic. Better yet, I hope somebody out there creates a tweet, a LinkedIn post, I don't care where you're social, just make sure you tag Matt in it and tag me in it, I want to see somebody's graphical version of, "You can't buy a beer with an MQL," because that was absolutely magical.

I want to dive a little bit deeper, and I want to start to think about the crucial aspects of this. What are some crucial aspects that B2B marketers, when they believe what has been said in the first couple of questions, should start to focus on regarding them being part of Sales and Marketing alignment?

Matt: First of all, to know that the journey that your prospects are on is long and complex goes well beyond just downloading a whitepaper, sending a lead over to a 23-year-old who is going to put someone into a 20-minute appointment. To know that all of our sales and marketing efforts require a body of work over a period of time to be successful and predictable, you have to accept that that is a truth. Our funnels no longer operate in a way where they split horizontally in the middle.

It would be easy if we could go back to the days where we said Marketing does the top of the funnel and Sales does the bottom. Marketing, just generate awareness and leads. Sales, you close the deal. For most of us in B2B, the funnel is now split vertically, potentially with a horizontal bend where Marketing may own the majority of the work at the top of the funnel; Sales may have the majority of the jobs at the bottom of the funnel. But if we take this to a jobs to be done scenario, who is defining what market we're selling into? Who is going and building awareness of the problem? Forget your brand. Awareness that there is a problem, that the problem is pressing, that the problem needs to be solved.

If you can challenge the status quo of your prospects and get them to commit to change, that is a key part of the buying process. There is a job to be done from Sales, there is a job to be done by Marketing, there is a job to be done by your channel partners, etcetera, to get that done. Know that there are these steps to be made, there are jobs to be done, there are people within Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, partners, etcetera, that can play those roles. Break those down into the components of the body of work, now you're getting somewhere. Not only are you getting somewhere in terms of actually being able to build traction in that process, but you now have a system that can be repeated in a predictable way, driving predictable results.

George: I love predictable ways and predictable results. I hope you are picking these sound bites. The idea of funnels don't work the way they once did. This idea that Matt painted of split that funnel vertically. I want you to pause this podcast for a second and think about the difference vertical versus horizontal would make in the sales process as you move forward. If you have not read the book, because Matt just flew right by the jobs to be done, if you haven't read the book or know about the Jobs to Be Done framework, that is a great action item for you out of this podcast episode.

Matt, let's have a little fun. One of the shows that I absolutely love is Mythbusters. When it comes all day, my wife is like, "Yeah, I just lost my husband." So, when we're talking about Sales enablement, what are the misconceptions, dare I say the myths, about Sales and Marketing alignment that you would love to use the Marketing Smarts Podcast to be like I want to debunk this junk right now?

Matt: I realize that the phrase Sales enablement is now baked into our vocabulary as B2B revenue leaders, but I wish if we could go back to the start, we would have named it buyer enablement because that's really what this is about. How are we enabling buyers to buy?

Let's not pretend just because we offer a compelling message, just because we get them to a point where they're committed to change, our buyers have these matrix complex buying committees they have to navigate to get someone to be able to make a decision, even if everyone internally is bought off on something. Getting consensus on that internal buying committee that they should do something is one thing, getting through the monster of procurement, which is the sales prevention department in a lot of companies, you'll have buyers that are desperate for your solution and yet you are months away from actually selling them something if procurement is in the way.

I can enable my sales team, give them great collateral, give them great studies, give them great tools and materials, and that's all important, but if that doesn't make it easier for buyers to buy, if that isn't focused on enabling and empowering the buyer to do their job better, to get where they need to go faster, then all the Sales enablement you're doing is only going to be half as effective at best of what it could be. Helping the buyers buy is the primary objective.

George: I want to go off the beaten path for a second. Before I do, though, Marketing Smarts listeners, do you have a sales prevention department? Maybe we take care of that and get rid of that for the future success that we actually need. I do want to go off the beaten path for a second, Matt, because you did a little thing to my brain where I'm like, I need to know how Matt thinks about this thing.

You reclassified Sales and Marketing alignment to buyer enablement. How does buyer enablement coincide, align with, cross over what in our industry we talk all the time about customer experience, how are buyer enablement and customer experience related in your mind?

Matt: Ideally, they're one in the same. Buyer enablement, even though I like that orientation toward the buyer, it's a very wonky term. I don't want to be enabled. Go back to my rant about people saying they want to crush their pipeline, they want to close business. I don't want it to be crushed or closed. There are things I want to buy, but that sounds like I'm losing and someone is winning. That's not going to help. The customer experience starts the first time they hear from you.

Let's be honest, most sales and marketing efforts are kind of like driving by someone's house at 35 miles an hour and trying to throw something into the mailbox. You're going to miss most of the time. If you get something in there, it better be good. I think about my house, I'm in my basement right now, so there's the mailbox down the drive, and then between the mailbox and my front door is the recycle bin. You may get something in the mailbox, but it ain't even making it into the house if it doesn't catch my attention right away. There's an awful lot of stuff that I don't even want to bring in, it's just going right in the recycle bin.

Same thing for your customers. What are you doing to earn their attention? What are you doing to create value early on? What are you doing to continually provide value, including and beyond your product and service, that makes them want to come back? This is a little bit maybe trite, but how do you go from being interruptive to being irresistible? Even if you haven't sold them something yet, how do you make it so that they want to spend more time with you?

If I think about buyer enablement, it's better to think about it as a customer experience, and better to think about someone as your customer from the very first time you interact with them and build trust, credibility, and differentiation for your brand and your experience.

George: I don't think it sounds trite at all. It's interesting because you were talking about from my mailbox to my house, there's the trash bin, and my brain immediately went as B2B marketers in a digital space, I have to ask you, Marketing Smarts listeners, are all of your efforts just being directed to the digital trash bin? That is not anybody's goal of going to work, putting forth all of the effort, and knowing they have reached the cylindrical file for the rest of its life. We don't want that to happen.

Because we don't want that to happen, what I am super curious about, because we like to give actionable, tactical tips, tricks, and things like that. Are there any useful tips, tricks, strategies, hacks, templates that B2B marketers can utilize to improve their Sales and Marketing alignment efforts as they move forward after this podcast episode?

Matt: Here's what I want you all to do. Either take a blank spreadsheet or just take a piece of paper, and down the left-hand side, I want you to write the titles of the people that are involved in the buying process. We know that there are buying committees involved, different people with different roles, different titles, write down those titles as you know them today. I'm not going to ask you to go do personas. You can do that later, whatever, fine. Write down those titles, at least three to five.

Across the top, I want you to write a couple of sales stages. The first stage that I want you to do is awareness. The second stage that I want you to do is challenge the status quo. The third stage that I want you to do is commit to change.

What I want you to do in each of the cells that you now have underneath those for each of those individuals is think about the sentence or the couple of bullets that is the message. What are you going to put in front of someone that is going to get their attention and earn their attention with something that sparks their brain a little bit? How are you going to challenge the status quo of what they're doing today? Why would they commit to change based on those insights?

Here's the catch. You are not allowed to talk about your product or service in any of that content. We do this exercise with sales teams all the time, and that's the hardest part. They can't wait to use their product or service as an example of challenging the status quo, as a reason to commit to change. None of that is necessary to get those messages across to the prospect. In fact, the longer you wait in that process to bring up what you sell, the more the customer is committed to that outcome for themselves.

If you can customize that to each of those individuals in the buying process to have a distinct message for each, you have them more engaged and you're more likely to build consensus among them around that commitment to change down the line. That's what gets them committed to the full sales process.

George: It's so interesting. For some reason, my brain tries to simplify things as the input is coming in. When I hear you tell that story, I'm like, you mean if we actually spend time creating more of a valuable human connection that the point when we get to the transaction will actually be easier? That's interesting to me. It's just a weird concept to be human, and human in your business. I love this line that we're going down.

One of the things that I love to do is look at what seemingly sometimes are opposite sides of the pool, if you will, although they have very connected pieces. Let's talk about the hurdles, the potholes. What challenges do B2B marketers often encounter, or dare I say fall prey to, when they're trying to achieve what we're talking about, Sales and Marketing alignment for their company?

Matt: You're basically talking a pre-postmortem. We've done these programs for so many companies, and everyone has great intentions. Then you start to execute, and then you reach that trough of disillusionment where everyone is like, "Why isn't this working the way we want it to." We come up with almost the same reasons every time. Without getting into the full detail, one of them is just a lack of embracing the complexity of modern B2B sales and marketing. This is going to be more complex. This is going to be more difficult.

Engaging in an integrated dance between Sales and Marketing is going to take more forethought, more process, and more systems than you may be used to doing. I guarantee you that it will be worth it. I guarantee you it's going to create better outcomes for you. If you invest less money in media and more money in systems, in your data and your processes, you'll be in far better shape. That lack of being willing to embrace complexity is one of them. Upfront you can just say, "We know this is going to be hard, we know this is going to be a challenge, we know this isn't going to be perfect, but we're going to go through it."

The other one is having a more integrated approach for data management. You can't just have some data in your marketing automation platform and some in your CRM, and it doesn't talk to each other. If you're going to take a more nuanced approach and a more account-based approach to your marketing and sales moving forward, your systems need to talk to each other, and your ability to manage and update and enrich that data is going to be critical to doing this moving forward.

This levels up. The level of sophistication and the expertise you have to have internally around technology systems and data increases. It doesn't mean you're deprioritizing creative, it doesn't mean you're deprioritizing story. It makes those things more important. But to make them stand out and be effective, you have to have some of those fundamentals and those systematic tools put in place.

George: Ladies and gentlemen, I really do think that we've reached the second rewind point of this episode. Again, there are some great nuggets. In that first one, my brain as you were talking was like I think I remember a quote that actually is what I would call a life principle that might be going along with what Matt is talking about. Maybe you've heard it. "If you do what is hard in life, life will be easy. If you do what is easy, life will be hard." If you've never heard that, you can go Google Les Brown and that phrase, and it will get you an entire talk about the idea of putting in the work.

As Matt was saying, it's going to be complex, it's going to be more difficult, but if you can get through that, it will get easier in the long run. The other part, too, that second part, my brain went to always be learning, and always be prioritizing what you have learned and what you're going to then execute.

That's one side of it, the potholes and the hurdles. The other side of the pool or the other side of the coin, I love to help the Marketing Smarts listeners understand what success looks like. What's the bullseye, where are we trying to go, what are we aiming for? I can't throw any more analogies at you than that, so let's just ask the question. How do we determine success in the context of Sales and Marketing alignment, what are the indicators that we're achieving effective alignment between the two teams and maybe even almost becoming one?

Matt: For sure becoming one. That doesn't mean that you have one team that everyone reports in to. It means you have one integrated team that everyone is engaged doing their jobs to be done to be successful.

I would define success in two ways. One is hitting your number. If marketing hits their MQL goal, but sales misses their number, you missed your number. If sales hit their net new number, but the company misses its revenue target, you missed your number. In this tighter market right now, a lot more companies are focused on customer-led growth, because net new revenue and net new customers are harder to come by. Being able to make those transitions, don't have territory wars around just focusing on net new. Maybe your function, maybe your resources should be focused on retention, renewal, cross-sell and up-sell right now to hit the revenue number.

So, first objective is hit your revenue goal. Second is build a system to be able to predictably do it moving forward. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people hit their number and they predicted their quarter, but have no idea whether they can repeat it. "We had a great quarter. I don't know what happened. We had a great tradeshow. I don't know what happened." What's your sense of confidence that you can do it again this quarter? What are the systems in place that can help you increase reliability, predictability of hitting that number, and doing it as your numbers continue to scale?

Your ability to create predictable outcomes in a complex sales environment is one of the other objectives of doing this that will continue to help you hit your number, over and over, over time.

George: I feel like I'm in masterclass right now. Build a system, make it repeatable. Pay attention and adapt to scale on that system and what you can repeat. So good.

Matt, as we land the plane here and we let the Marketing Smarts listeners get back to their daily lives, one of the things I love is you're on a journey, I'm on a journey, the listeners are on a journey. During those journeys, we gain these nuggets, these ideas of wisdom. What are some words of wisdom that you would like to share with the Marketing Smarts listeners? It could be regarding Sales and Marketing alignment, it could be regarding life itself, I'll leave it completely open to you. What are the words of wisdom that you would share?

Matt: Now that you've brought that question, to me, it goes back to our why. I used to think our purpose was predictable growth through revenue responsible marketing. Well, that's not our purpose, that's our niche, that's what we do. Why do we do that? We do that because our stated purpose as a business is to positively impact careers and lives by enabling work that matters.

We can positively impact careers and lives by helping marketers be more revenue responsible, by helping marketers create more impact in the business. That creates more upward mobility for them in their careers, it helps them create more flexibility in terms of how they do that. It's not just a forever checklist of getting tactics done, but doing the right things to drive revenue impact.

I feel strongly that if we can do the right work and we can focus on work that matters, that impacts our careers and our lives and the stuff that really matters to all of us.

George: Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity after this podcast episode? Make sure you reach out and let us know in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.

I also have to ask are you a free member of the MarketingProfs community yet? If not, head over to You won't regret the additional B2B marketing education that you'll be adding to your life.

We'd like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we'd love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until we meet in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast where we talk with Tish Millsap about mastering the revenue attribution puzzle, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you'd like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. We'll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.

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