Sitrion is part of a super innovative network of companies. On the surface we're connected through our investors, but if you take a closer look you'll see we all have a deep level of respect for each other that helps us to maneuver from early-stage startups to global players. So even though each of us needs to run our own company, you'll always find a leader who will take an extra hour to help you, whether it's a tactical question on the right CRM system or a more thorough discussion on the very delicate subject of depression among leaders. I am truly honored to be part of this crew.
Foundry Sales and Marketing Conference
This week we met for the Foundry Sales & Marketing Conference to discuss how go-to- market strategy and execution is changing and how we can learn from each other. With a group of 60 CEOs, CMOs, and sales leaders we had an outstanding event, discussing, learning, laughing, and supporting each other about a wide range of topics, including sales structure, recruiting and managing people, operations and metrics, demand generation, and alignment between sales, marketing, product, and operations.
People came from a variety of backgrounds ranging from robotics and hardware to cloud services, enterprise software, and mobile capabilities. We had enterprise products and consumer solutions. Some had a high-touch direct sales model, while others had an entirely-automated sales process and required nearly no human interaction. The thing that united us was our willingness to learn and share. To quote Tony Ehrens, our SVP of Sales, "I am really impressed, they're all so smart and great people."
High Performance Needs Clarity
Triggered by Bridget Gleason of Yesware's keynote, I was most impressed by the discussion about how clarity, safety, and transparency are keys to high performance. Products, leads, commissions, and closing capabilities are all important, but only if there is a clear alignment between the company vision and the team on the ground can you achieve sustainable success.
What is my value? What is my role? While not exclusive to sales and marketing, the answers to those questions and the transparency around them provides the foundation to align resources to achieve great sales results. You can only gain the trust of your team to open up if it is safe to address topics across departments. In an adaption to Bridget's idea I arrived at three key findings:
- The handshake between sales and marketing is super important. With the power shifting to networked relationships, it is marketing that is reinventing itself but also gaining more power over the sales cycle. Sales leadership needs to be part of that transition to prevent tension between the groups.
- Work as a network to allow fluid and constant exchanges of information. Customers know so much more about you today and you need to know so much more about your customers. The lines between product, marketing, and sales are blurring as are the lines between internal and external.
- Transparent goals are key and it is a group effort to achieve them. The time when marketing only focused on leads and sales only focused on deals is over. You need to take a holistic view on your metrics and have agreement on how success is defined for the entire business, not just for one group. It might even be that in an early stage of a company or product, it is not sales amounts, but the number of referenceable customers.
Give Before You Get
Brad Feld, a Sitrion investor and board member, preaches the idea that you have to give first. This event has demonstrated this concept really well. Sales and marketing people are generally known to optimize their time for clear sales objectives. And while I hope that everyone took something from the event, I am most impressed by those that simply shared their ideas, wisdom, and experience.
Thanks so much to Ken Fugate of Square 1 Bank, our main sponsor, for supporting the event. Your contribution has made this event possible but also demonstrated again that your commitment to the startup community is strong.