Today will be interesting. I have to tell a CEO that “yes, he really does need to lead go-to-market strategy.” Revenue team alignment has to replace revenue team acrimony.

I want to be as polite as possible. But, wow, conflict between these sales, marketing, and customer success teams is a bit out of hand.

Like most companies, there is a classic sales-marketing tension over lead quality and buyer messaging being too high-level, inspirational vs. actionable.    

But, here misalignment and mistrust is more personal between leaders and team members.  

When I presented this problem two weeks ago, the CEO said to me: “I hire really talented leaders. They are adults and I expect them to figure it out.”

My response, “I understand, but realize sales, marketing, and customer success are different in their characters, goals, and working styles. If YOU don’t actively align them, they will misalign.”

It is an important message for CEOs, CROs, and COOs with revenue oversight, as well for VPs of marketing, sales, and customer success who want to collaborate effectively with peers.

  • Sales teams are typically action-oriented, focus on earning incentive compensation and putting points on the board.
  • Marketing teams are a bit more thoughtful in creating positioning to build initial engagement and crunching numbers to see patterns. 
  • Customer Success has those “nurturing” types who want to feed and care for customers. They are often process oriented and do not want to be “salesy.”

These differences can be a source of strength to build a strong, deep buyer journey. Or, they can cause conflict and damage the buyer and customer experience.  

The CEO got it by the end of the call and asked me to bring “specific action items” to today’s meeting. Here is what I plan to share:

  • Start telling customer stories in senior leadership and all-hands meetings. They are a great way to connect and build positive energy between marketing, sales, and customer success. They validate each team’s work and naturally help to align messaging.
  • Evolve your content strategy from a marketing and website-first approach to align messaging across all go-to-market teams. Using content at different levels of depth is a great way to tell the same story across marketing, sales, and customer success.
  • Measure cross-team performance as well as team performance to reward collaboration. Make both sales and marketing responsible for SQL quality and both sales and CS responsible for growing account value.

Diversity in views or ways of being goes one direction or the other. Go-to-market teams are no different.

With the right leadership, it can be a source of great strength in getting to the best outcome. In the absence of leadership, it often degenerates into conflict.