How The Bridge (@TheBridgeFX) Models the Need for Sales and Marketing Alignment

August 17, 2013

Introduction

A woman is found murdered at a border crossing between Mexico and The United States. Arriving at the scene are detectives Sonya Cross (from El Paso, Texas) and Marco Ruiz (from Juarez, Mexico). Still in its first season, The Bridge (on FX) is about the partnership between Cross and Ruiz to solve the murder.

They come from different cultures, speak different languages and have personalities that are diametrically opposed to one another. Most organizations have a similar pairing: Sales and Marketing.

And while the backdrop is far less extreme than a murder case, Sales and Marketing can’t achieve their objectives without working with one another. The same goes for Cross and Ruiz.

Let’s consider five ways the Cross/Ruiz partnership models the relationship between Sales and Marketing.

1) Success depends on working together, not working alone.

Sales and Marketing need to work together

We’re still early in season 1 of The Bridge, but it’s safe to say that the killer will only be found if Cross and Ruiz work together. I doubt either one will crack the case by working alone.

In an organization, Marketing may hit its MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) goal and Sales may hit its quota, but sustainable success only happens when both parties are fully aligned. Marketing can continue to crank out MQL’s, but if they’re not sensitive to the quality of MQL’s delivered, then Sales may fall short of their quota.

2) Different backgrounds can combine to make harmony.

Cross and Ruiz are from different countries and different cultures. They are completely unlike one another. If it weren’t for the murder case, they might have a hard time sustaining a conversation. That being said, my guess is that the distinct background and perspective each brings will combine to help solve the case.

Similarly, it can be a good thing that salespeople and marketers think and act differently. We can take advantage of the unique background and approaches of each to create harmony (and success).

3) They need to find a common language.

Cross and Ruiz as Sales and Marketing

While in Juarez, Ruiz speaks Spanish to the locals. When collaborating with Cross, he speaks English (the common language between them). Sales and Marketing need to find a common language as well. This starts with basic terminology and continues with definitions of lead, MQL, Sales Qualified Lead and Sales Accepted Lead.

Just as Cross and Ruiz look for suspects, Sales and Marketing should collectively determine how to spot suspects vs. leads. In other words, alignment often means lead scoring rules that both parties agree on.

4) Unilateral decisions can come back to haunt both parties.

In episode 1, Ruiz allows a car to proceed through the border crossing, even though Cross forbid the car from doing so. It remains to be seen what comes of Ruiz’s unilateral decision, but I imagine it will have significance in later episodes.

Marketing may decide on a last-minute conference sponsorship without informing Sales (or vice versa). Unilateral decisions like this compromise alignment and do far more damage than good.

5) They need to appreciate the perspective of the other.

While I don’t expect Cross and Ruiz to become best friends, my guess is that over time, they’ll come to appreciate the perspective of the other. And with that, they’ll develop a bond of sorts, which will help them make progress on the case.

Similarly, Marketing needs to put themselves in the shoes of Sales (and vice versa). If Marketing can understand the demands and challenges of a salesperson, then their marketing programs can be more effective. And if Sales can understand the same of Marketing, it’ll create a healthier relationship.

Conclusion

The challenge put forth to Cross and Ruiz? Solving a murder case. The challenge for Sales and Marketing? Revenue.

Both parties need to come together to make it happen. Perhaps they should meet each other half-way: in the middle of The Bridge.


Book Supplement: Virtual Event Lead Management (#leadmanagement)

January 22, 2011

Introduction

In “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events,” Chapter 6 is titled “Score and Follow Up with Leads”.  This really could have been Chapter 7 – and instead, Chapter 6 could have focused on important steps to consider before scoring.  Before you import your virtual event leads into your CRM system, consider these important steps first.

Step #1: Beware of the “Drive-By Viewing”

Someone visited your virtual booth – congratulations! Not so fast.  Make sure the booth visit was not a “drive-by viewing”.  I define a drive-by viewing as:

  1. One (and only one) visit to your booth
  2. “Visit time” of 5 minutes or less
  3. No engagement with others while in the booth (e.g. group chat, private chat)
  4. No interaction with booth content (e.g. booth tabs, documents, links, etc.)

I see plenty of drive-by viewings from booth visitors. Some visitors simply want to see which companies are exhibiting at the virtual event.  And, some virtual platforms have “previous” and “next” buttons in the virtual booths, which means that drive-by visitors may simply be doing a quick tour of all booths.

Drive-by visitors are not leads – they’re NAMES!  My recommendation for drive-by visitors:

  1. Go ahead and import them into your CRM system
  2. Schedule a “thanks for visiting” email
  3. Using simple text links, provide them with a few options (e.g. receive more content, schedule an appointment, etc.)
  4. Respond accordingly – and, if they do not open the email or respond to the offers, cease communications [for now] and nurture them over the long term

Step #2: Beware of Existing Leads and Business Partners

Your virtual event leads can look like a pile of dominoes.  You may not be aware that within that pile of dominoes are existing sales prospects, along with current customers and business partners.  When you exhibit at a virtual event, your sales team is inclined to invite current prospects to come visit – and, your existing customers and partners are inclined to stop in to see what’s new.

Warning: LEAD IMPORT CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

If you don’t manage your leads well, you may import “hot prospects” (who are already in your CRM system) and trigger a follow-up email to them.  The result is a turning back of the clock with those prospects – imagine finalizing your purchase decision, only to have one of the potential vendors call on you and ask if you’re in the market for their product!

Personal Story: I attended a virtual trade show and did a “drive-by viewing” through an exhibitor’s booth.  I’ve been a long-time subscriber to this exhibitor’s email newsletter and know some of the employees there.  My drive-by viewing was done simply to see who was staffing the booth.

A few days later, I received an email from the exhibitor, asking if I’d like more information.  This exhibitor probably should have known that I was a long-time subscriber – and, routinely click on the links in their newsletter.  Given this, the follow-up should have been more tailored, or skipped entirely.  If I was contemplating a purchase  decision with this exhibitor, that follow-up email could have cost them my business.

Step #3: Build and Import Engagement Profiles

Virtual event platforms have built-in RFID, which means that all interactions from sales prospects (with your content) are tracked and recorded.  The platforms assemble a detailed “engagement profile” for you – the worst thing you can do is throw away that profile when the lead is imported into your CRM system.  My guess is that the majority of marketers today do just that.

Instead, create custom fields in your CRM system to capture this data (e.g. number of visits, documents downloaded, transcripts of chats, etc.).  The more data, the more informed your sales team.  Just like an auto insurer reviews your past driving record and a loan officer reviews your past credit history, your sales team should have the benefit of a prospect’s past engagement data.

Step #4: Curate Leads as You Would Fine Art

You can automate portions of lead management, but you can’t automate the entire process.  It’s easy to automate the de-duping process, which ensures that new records are not created in your CRM system when there’s an existing lead record.

However, it’s not as easy to automate the business intelligence that needs to be applied to your leads (e.g. you can’t do AI on your BI). Examples of business intelligence rules:

  1. Knowing (and spotting) competitors
  2. Knowing (and spotting) existing business partners
  3. Knowing (and spotting) industry experts, analysts, media [who should not be followed up with]
  4. Spotting “creatively submitted” leads, such as “Mick E. Mouse” or “Barack Obama”

Sure, you can automate part of this by filtering on a list of company names, but there are bound to be some leads that slip through the cracks.

For instance, users may have a typo in their company name – or, may list their company differently that what you’ve entered in your filter list.  Your leads are the lifeblood of your business, so you should curate them as if they were fine art.  This means that manual review will always be a part of the lead management process.

Conclusion

Lead Management is not easy.  However, perform these steps before your first virtual event lead hits your CRM system – and you’ll be better off.  Your sales team will receive a far higher percentage of qualified leads – and they’ll thank you for that.


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