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Insight from IDC’s Annual Sales & Mktg. Effectiveness Summit

We recently finished our 6th annual IDC Sales & Marketing Effectiveness Summit. You would think after years of us working towards greater alignment between marketing & sales that we would have figured it out by now! However, as recent IDC research indicates, both marketers and sales still remain unsatisfied to say the least with their current working relationship. (Marketing and sales give marketing a score of 64 and 45 respectively for marketing’s effectiveness at supporting sales) That said, we spent 8 hours with over 80 of the industry’s top marketing and sales folks during this summit discussing marketing and sales alignment; moving beyond the traditional platitudes that you’d expect at your typical conference to actually discuss solutions to our challenges. Here are just a couple of the key insights that I took away from the event:

  • One of the root causes of marketing and sales misalignment?. . we need to better collaborate on shared metrics, including agreeing on which metrics to track and what objectives to set. A few metrics examples?. . . . . Lead aging (e.g., average time that it takes marketing to qualify [or reject] a lead; average time for sales to follow up a marketing-qualified lead in aggregate or by each salesperson); % of marketing qualified leads accepted by sales; % of sales’ pipeline that should be marketing-generated vs. marketing-enhanced; new customer revenue; sales enablement metrics such as time to onboard a new salesperson or an indicator of value of marketing assets to sales.
  • “10% to 20% of sales teams are the ‘A’ players that can close deals no matter how bad the economic environment is. The real challenge is to get the other 80% to 90% of the sales teams to the same level as these ‘A’ players; or at least close to that level. Sales enablement provides the opportunity to leverage this knowledge across the company. Yes we need to improve the formal content, however, the more difficult resources to tap into include the subject matter experts and the best practices of the ‘A’ players.”[Jeff Summers, COO, SAVO]
  • “We found key sound bites, elevator pitches, value propositions and customers’ stories to be extremely valuable to help enable sales; not just lengthy marketing assets and PowerPoint presentations. We established managed business objectives for our marketers that require them to get X number of customer stories and/or key success factors from our ‘A’ player sales folks to share with the rest of the sales team. (e.g., in the form of a 1/2 page write-up or a video tape of a top performer giving their pitch)” [Tom Miller, VP Marketing, ADP]
  • “90% of the time the conversation about your company, its products or solutions or services, is happening without you being present. Marketing and sales need to collaborate on how to best influence this conversation; and that includes increasing the relevancy and overall value of your interactions with the market. To do this we need to permanently change how we view our jobs, having more of a two-way, information sharing exchange with the market versus a one-way spouting of our product features.” [Jocelyne Attal, President JAgency (former CMO, Avaya)]
  • “At a cost of $800 to $1,500 per marketing-qualified lead, we need to apply more rigor to our lead management process, from marketing through to sales; and we won’t be able to accomplish this goal at a systematic level until we better align our marketing AND sales lead management processes and systems.” [Jocelyne Attal, President JAgency (former CMO, Avaya)]
  • Sun has developed an in-house application that provides the applications and an online, interactive repository to personally create sales enablement videos (e.g., product launch training, market intelligence, solution information). Examples of unique features: anyone in Sun can create this content, either for internal and/or public use; all content can be scored and receive public comments, thereby encouraging marketers to improve value of their content; and videos and other media can be downloaded to iTunes. (
  • Carol Carpenter, VP Trend Micro, did a nice job reminding us that we need to improve our alignment between corporate, business unit and field marketing versus simply focusing on aligning marketing and sales. You could say that we need to “get our own house in order” as a first step in improving sales and marketing alignment; including strategic planning, budget management and campaign execution. (further strategic insight on field marketing is available for CMO Advisory Service clients)

Based upon the highly interactive, problem-solving nature of the discussion throughout the day, it is evident that we are progressing as an industry in solving the marketing and sales alignment dilemma; but is improvement rapid enough? Please do feel free to comment below or send an email directly to me at

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