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Salesforce’s CMO: Why Our Marketing and Sales Teams Actually Like Each Other


In 2009, after careers in the British military, management consulting, and the World Economic Forum, I joined Salesforce. At that time there were around 2,500 employees. Eight years later, we’re more than 10 times larger.

Tight alignment between sales and marketing has always been a fundamental aspect of Salesforce's business performance. As we’ve grown, it has become more and more important to understand the factors that matter the most in making this partnership a success: delivering on marketing ROI, sales productivity, and, most importantly, growth.

These are the 4 key areas.

1. Customer Focus

Salesforce has always put customer success first, and it's important to understand what that means for the relationship between sales and marketing. First, it's about creating a single, holistic view of the customer relationship, including the communications history. This ensures sales and marketing can coordinate activities with a shared view of the same customer. Second, it's important to cultivate active listening. On paper, a marketing tactic may seem like genius, but in reality, it may fail to move the customer to the next step in the sales cycle. A key part of aligning sales and marketing is the validation of go-to-market tactics and marketing assets early on with real-life customers, and with salespeople themselves. As a result, the marketing team will speak the language of the customer and generate value at every stage in the funnel.

2. Pipeline Science

All too often, marketing operates with only a vague understanding of its impact. A true partnership with sales can't be reached unless the marketing team is fully aware of what it’s achieving or not achieving. At Salesforce, we accomplish this by constantly evolving a “pipeline science” approach, where every single marketing activity is tracked and evaluated. We scrutinize performance metrics (showing us how each tactic is performing) and outcome metrics (pipe and revenue). We look not just at pipe volume, but also at its quality and velocity. This holistic view allows us much more flexibility in both shifting spend priorities based on specific product or segment needs, and also in targeting lower ROI tactics to further decrease the cost to book. Additionally, our view of pipeline goes beyond revenue generation, and includes customer evangelism. We apply just as rigorous an approach to turning customers into evangelists as we do to generating sales wins. After all, customers are some of the most trusted evangelists a company can have.

3. Integrated Planning and Alignment

Great execution is all in the planning. Sales and marketing can't operate off conflicting plans or confusion about their roles. Too often, marketers and salespeople have different goals, and become frustrated when the other team doesn’t understand their objectives. A single plan needs to orchestrate effort and confirm common objectives. If sales does not feel a high degree of ownership of the marketing plan, and vice versa, you've probably got it wrong.

4. Communicate Excellence and Transparency

It's amazing how often assumptions and lack of communication fuel bad or “no” decisions. The market changes quickly for many reasons, and plans can quickly lose their impact. That's why it's important to get feedback and react to it rapidly. A real-time view of sales and marketing performance is helpful. We supplement this by sending weekly performance reviews to sales and marketing leadership, enabling us to make pipe-science informed improvements. At a global level, we’ve built an international marketing council, which allows leaders across each region to get together quarterly and share local best practices.

Getting these basics right has a deep impact on the team. It means that each individual has a clearer understanding of what their role is, so each person feel empowered. It also nurtures a culture of sharing and celebrating success as one team, encompassing both sales and marketing. Our focus here has allowed us to move to the next level of performance and marketing innovation.

A key part of Sales & Marketing alignment is the validation of go-to-market tactics and marketing assets early on with real life customers, and with sales people themselves.”

Simon Mulcahy | CMO, Salesforce

Learn More

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Making the Tricky Transition from Sales Peer to Sales Manager By Keith Rosen,
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