Much talk is made about the importance and need for sales and marketing alignment, and rightly so; alignment is a key strategy for company growth. We suggest adding a third business area – customer success – to the alignment mix for what we’re calling the team trifecta.
Trifecta is a common word used in horse racing that describes a bet on the first three horses that finish a race in the correct order. We want to focus on making all three of these groups – sales, marketing and customer success – winners by working together as opposed to working in three separate silos.
Why is this so important? Easy: the modern buyer doesn’t make a distinction between these three groups, they only see the one company. As a result, when one of those teams is out of alignment with the others, it is the business as a whole that suffers.
We all know the heavy betting is made on the first two ponies in team trifecta – sales and marketing – and how they work together. It’s been well established that alignment and consistency between these two groups ensures you can get the most from your prospects, accelerate your pipeline, and make sure you’re not missing opportunities in the acquisition process.
Why alignment matters, by the numbers
According to an Act-On survey, of the companies reporting a lack of alignment between sales and marketing, we found only 37 percent met their revenue goals, and only 7 percent exceeded their revenue goals.
In contrast, 81 percent of the companies that beat their revenue goals described their marketing and sales teams as either somewhat or completely aligned.
We believe a similar business case can be made for including customer success in the team trifecta.
One of the defining traits of top performing companies is their customer happiness score, which average 90 percent versus an average of 68 percent for everyone else. Happy customers tend to remain loyal to the companies that made them happy, which yields extraordinary benefits. A two percent increase in customer retention has the same impact on profits as cutting costs by 10 percent. And reducing customer churn by 5 percent can increase profits by 25 to 95 percent.
According to Forrester, acquiring a new customer costs a business six times more than satisfying and retaining a current customer. And Gartner Group reports that a staggering 80 percent of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of its existing customers.
The top performing B2B companies, on average, invest 30 percent of their budget and 25 percent of their time to expanding existing customer relationships. And these are the investments that yield 50 percent of their total revenue.
As comparison, average B2B companies invest just 20 percent of their budget and 15 percent of their time to expanding customer relationships, and derive only 30 percent of their total revenue from the efforts.
It’s definitely no coincidence the top performing companies place a greater emphasis on maximizing revenue from existing customers. As the Forrester data shows, these existing relationships with current customers yield more predictable and more reliable revenue than just acquiring new customers.
It makes sense for the marketing team to point some of their effort, budget and time to making sure their customers are successful, happy and growing.
So the challenge is: how can marketers do this? How does the marketing team create a consistent experience across every one of the customer touch points with the organization?
To begin with, there isn’t a cookie cutter way of making sure your teams are aligned. Every company will be different, and many different models can be right. But you can begin by asking simple questions to identify whether you are striving toward alignment, or whether you have some challenges ahead.
Six questions to gauge alignment
- Can we communicate clearly?
- Do we collaborate effectively?
- Do we speak a common language? Are we using the same terms? Do we have the same definitions for term like “qualified lead” and “good customer”?
- Do we employ integrated business processes?
- Are we measured against shared goals?
- Are we truly working towards a common goal?
The marketing, sales, and support stakeholders in a successful team trifecta have to work from a single shared view of a customer’s history with the company. This is no easy feat because all three tend to use very different systems and tools.
Within the team trifecta, marketing is the natural candidate for taking a leadership position in achieving alignment. Why marketers? Well, they are the only team that invests in every stage of the customer lifecycle. This is a practical perspective that can also inform and empower their sales and customer success colleagues. And they have the infrastructure, usually the marketing technology, paired with the CRM and other types of tools, that can really be the backbone of this alignment.
For example, here at Act-On, we use our marketing automation platform to welcome new customers. We also use our technology to identify customers who haven’t adopted certain pieces of our product, and then direct marketing campaigns to them to see if we can get them educated and better engaged with the product. We do this because we know the more engaged they are with Act-On, the more successful they will be.
How do you whether you are aligned? It will mean that marketing, sales and support stakeholders are working together from a single shared view of a customer’s history with the company. What this means is you can start to build a single mutually acceptable set of goals, and really define who you’re targeting. And this benefits all three groups. If marketing has more intelligence about who makes a good customer, and who stays on board, and who’s ultimately going to be successful with the product, they can adjust their marketing programs accordingly. The sales team has an easier time selling, and the customer success team has an easier time keeping and expanding those relationships.
The team trifecta is the idea marketing can really lead the charge in creating an alliance between marketing, sales and customer success and be able to identify and take advantage of untapped opportunities for a winning trifecta.