Collaboration, Communication, and Culture

  |  May 19, 2014   |  Comments

Alignment, collaboration, communication, and transparency in a company all take effort - and marketing automation tools can facilitate open communication.

We recently moved into a brand-new headquarters. It's 13,000 square feet of open floor plan space - not a walled-off, closed-door office in sight.

There are 11 meeting rooms and every last one of them has a different feel. Some are standing rooms, others have high-top tables and barstools, while others give off a lounge-y vibe with couches and ottomans. There are also six out-in-the-open collaboration areas and a massive break room/gathering area.

In short, it's a work space designed around collaboration and open communication. A work space designed for transparency and accessibility. A work space designed for alignment.

After my last column for ClickZ, I got a series of questions from a reader JoeV about how we, at Salesfusion, align our marketing and sales teams. I responded with a brief overview of our company structure and internal communications cadence. The reader wanted more.

He really pushed to understand how we ensure marketing and sales are aligned beyond just comp plans and best wishes. So, this was my response:

It is a great culture. We work hard and have a lot of fun.

As for the day-to-day way we align sales and marketing, it is actually very simple in practice - communication. We use our own [marketing automation] tool internally and track everything. At a minimum of once a week, we review the inbound MQLs, SQLs, and Ops as a team. We measure flow from initial touch through to close and align efforts regularly to optimize that flow.

I wish we had some super cool gimmick to share, but it is about clear, consistent communication, and a shared set of goals. Marketers here are measured on revenue in the same way salespeople are measured on revenue. And alignment drives everything.

At the end of the day, our marketers are saying to sales, "Tell me which leads are great and which suck and I will find you more that are great." And our sales people say to marketing, "Please send me more like this and less like that." Then we execute.

The cool thing about what we do at Salesfusion is that we are marketers who use our tools to sell our tools to other people who use our tools. As such, we constantly drive innovation into our marketing automation solutions that help us be better at what we do and, in turn, help our customers.

This month we are rolling out a Pandora-like function in our solution that facilitates the more like this; less like that discussion right in the product. And, like Pandora, the system learns what a great lead looks like with each interaction. As the solution learns, we are able to surface the best (more like this) leads to sales in priority order, so each sales lead is the right lead. The system never stops learning and the communication between sales and marketing is facilitated in the system both groups are using day to day. This has been invaluable.

Hope all of this helps.

I have been thinking a lot about that exchange for a few weeks now.

Over those weeks we have launched our more like this; less like that functionality into beta. We have added half a dozen new team members. We have engaged with hundreds of new MQLs and we still discuss each SQL. And, we moved into our new space.

We are in the best possible environment for aligned work, with the best possible tool set and a carefully planned process and yet, what I am reminded of every day is that relationships take work. Alignment, collaboration, communication, and transparency all take effort. Like any good relationship, it all boils down to old-fashioned communication. The space helps. Marketing automation tools can facilitate it. But it takes top-down commitment to working at the relationship to make it work.

Thank you to JoeV for the insightful engagement.

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Christian Nahas

Christian is CEO of Salesfusion, a marketing automation company in Atlanta that empowers marketers to more effectively attract new opportunities, convert them into customers and nurture them into lifelong relationships.

Christian has 16 years of experience as a hands-on technology professional. He has built a career on a foundation of hard work and persistence and is known for his passion and drive to help businesses connect with their customers. Prior to joining Salesfusion, Christian was part of Radiant Systems and NCR Corporation. While at Radiant Systems, he led the growth of the small and medium retail business market, turning a one-time sale business into a recurring revenue model for 2/3 of its revenue.

Once the company was acquired by NCR Corporation, Christian was able to use his software expertise and motivational leadership to launch NCR's return to the small business market. The solution he developed from concept definition through brand development to launch led a Renaissance for NCR, positioning the company once again as the technology leader for small businesses.


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