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

August 17, 2013


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.


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.

The 10 Things Marketers Should Do When Starting a New Job

May 25, 2013

Do these 10 things when starting a new marketing job

Photo credit: Courtney Dirks via photopin cc


Recently, I started a new job at DotNetNuke, a leading web content management platform. As a product marketer, part of my role is to help tell the story of the great products we sell – and, in a broader way, the great company we are.

As a result, I wanted to meet everyone in the organization, from Sales to Legal, from Engineering to Finance and from HR to Customer Support.

Here are the ten things marketers should do when starting a new job.

1) Introduce yourself to everyone.

Meet everyone at your new company

Photo credit: Flickr user: screenpunk via photopin cc

Depending on the size of your organization, it may be challenging to meet “everyone.” I’m based at headquarters, with about 40 other team members. I was taken “on the rounds” to meet everyone. If you don’t have the benefit of being taken around, be sure to introduce yourself to everyone you come across.

2) Ask for an org chart.

I was provided an org chart on my first day, which helps on a number of levels. First, it gives me a list of everyone in the organization. Next, as I meet people, I’m able to look them up on the chart to confirm their role. And finally, it gives me an early sense of whom I’ll be working closely with (e.g. account managers, account execs, etc.).

3) Engage with Sales right away.

Sales and Marketing alignment begins with a “hello.” Introduce yourself to as many sales reps as you can. The first week is primarily an “existence proof,” so Sales knows your name and begins to recognize your face. It’s the beginning of a long-standing (and important) relationship.

4) Focus on completing the “logistics.”

Filling out the W-2, reading the employee handbook and enrolling in benefits are important and necessary steps. Spend the time early on to complete these steps. If you can get them done on Day 1 or 2, the rest of your first week (and beyond) is set up for success.

5) Schedule video conferences with remote teams.

Meet remote teams via video

Photo credit: Flickr user: oxmour via photopin cc

Since our Engineering and Support teams reside in a different location, I was scheduled on orientation briefings with the leaders of those teams. We used a Polycom video conferencing system, which allowed us to see each other. If you don’t have such a system in your organization, go with Skype or Google+ Hangouts.

6) Attend as many internal meetings as you can.

Ask for permission to attend as many internal meetings as your schedule permits. Because you’re new, you’re guaranteed to learn something in each meeting. I attended a daily scrum meeting and got to hear details around the current product release. It also gave me a feel for how the Engineering team works.

7) Tell Sales what you plan to do for them (informally).

I boiled it down to this: I want to enable Sales to sell more. Define your objective up front and communicate it. That helps shape everything else you do. Communicate the “what,” then work to define the “how.” Sales will be sure to help you with the “when.”

8) Ask for the fire hose to be turned on.

Ask your peers to send you as much information as they can: email threads, project plans, existing marketing content, etc. It’s better to have the fire hose be turned on than to be lacking in water. You’ll need to prioritize what you consume and review – but as a marketer, you’re skilled in working with (and prioritizing) massive amounts of content.

9) Attend sales calls as a silent observer.

It’s good to see product demos from peers, but it’s priceless to observe a sales call (and demo) with prospects and customers. You get to learn a lot about your products. And importantly, you get to see how Sales is positioning and selling the products. During your first week or two, you may not be ready to have a speaking role on these calls. So let Sales know up front that you’ll focus on listening.

10) Develop a short-term plan.

Your boss will probably provide you with a short-term plan. Take that plan and compress it down to an even shorter timeframe (e.g. your first 1-2 weeks). This helps you prioritize at a more tactical level, to ensure your first 1-2 weeks are as effective as possible.

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