True sales and marketing alignment is not about supporting sales — it’s about supporting a common revenue objective. Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, is a B2B marketer who thinks in terms of pipeline creation and conversion. Listen in as he explains why both sides need to get beyond the “he said, she said,” of who gets credit, and work together to fuel the deal velocity that builds winning pipeline. Hear his perspective on why marketing needs to get beyond “arts and crafts” to creating the conditions for sales to win more deals.

You can’t buy a beer with a marketing qualified lead.”

Matt Heinz | President of Heinz Marketing
 
 
 
 

Kevin Micalizzi: Today we’ll be discussing sales and marketing alignment with Matt Heinz, Author, Speaker, and President at Heinz Marketing. Welcome, Matt.

 

Matt Heinz: Hey, thanks for having me.

 

Micalizzi: So, Matt, for our listeners who aren’t familiar with you, would you share a little bit about yourself?

 

Heinz: Sure. I started Heinz Marketing about nine years ago. We are sales pipeline people. You know, we’re a bunch of B2B marketers that think in terms of pipeline creation, pipeline conversion. You know, you can’t buy a beer with a marketing-qualified lead, so we prefer to think of marketing as managing the whole funnel and really helping companies build sustainable, repeatable pipelines.

 

Micalizzi: Excellent. I’m Kevin Micalizzi, Product Marketing Senior Manager here at Salesforce. I’m also the Executive Producer of the Quotable Podcast, and I’m joined today by my co-host, Jim Hopkins, Senior Manager Product Marketing at Salesforce and one of the brilliant minds behind Quotable.com. Welcome Jim.

 

Jim Hopkins: Thanks, guys. Happy to be here.

 

Micalizzi: So Matt, let’s jump into it. Everyone talks about sales and marketing alignment, and I think so many folks have just no idea where to start, where they should be at this point. And, you know, with all the technology changes and improvements in sales process, it seems more crucial than ever. Line us up and just help us understand kind of where we’re at right now.

 

Heinz: Well, I mean, just like with any evolution, there are some people that have made the full switch to [what I call] profit center marketing — marketing thinking that its goals are the same as the sales team’s goals, and aligning their priorities and their execution behind that. There are plenty of companies that are still run by marketers that essentially act like they’re running the arts-and-crafts department, you know, and that are focused on T-shirts and logos and retweets.

And not that those things aren’t useful, but if you aren’t prioritizing what you’re doing towards revenue and sales and business objectives, then there’s no way you can tell me that that’s as valuable and as focused and gives you the same return. So, yeah, I think the sales and marketing alignment, you can make it really complicated, but at the end of the day, it’s both teams aligned around the same revenue and sales objectives.

 

Hopkins: Cool. So, you know, you mentioned kind of focusing on revenue for both marketing and sales. What do you see as kind of one of the common struggles with sales? Like, from the sales side, you’re obviously working with marketing, but how is marketing struggling with sales?

 

Heinz: Sales is not used to getting the support they need from marketing. You know, marketing may sort of say the right things and say, “Well, we’re going to give you better leads and we’re going to give you better tools.” But at the end of the month, at the end of the day, sales is alone trying to close their number. They’re alone trying to grind it out, trying to hit their number.

And I’m not asking marketing to necessarily start playing a sales role, but you know, even as deals get to the end of the sales cycle, marketing still has a role. Marketing can provide better tools, better process, better content to help make the sales team more efficient and to help increase the urgency and velocity of deals that get across the finish line.

So you know, it’s more than just delivering better leads. It’s more than just sort of sitting in meetings together. I think that marketing has a role to play throughout the entire process, and throughout the entire buying cycle to support the revenue number. It’s not about supporting sales. It’s about supporting a common revenue objective.

 

Micalizzi: So, in talking about tools, I mean, pretty much any aspect of marketing or sales, there are a million-plus options out there. How are companies using the technology now to better align sales and marketing? Like, what’s out there and how are they leveraging it?

 

Heinz: It’s become clear that content and technology has replaced media as the coin of the realm for B2B companies, you know, marketers in particular. It’s not that media channels aren’t valuable. It’s not that advertising and trade shows are not useful, they are.

But I think your ability to not just rent attention from existing channels but to create your own channel, to really sort of own the attention, to sort of create your own media channels and use that both short term and long term to build trust, credibility, intent, I mean, all those sort of stages of buying journey that we talk about.

So I think that, you know, smart companies are investing in those tools and integrating those tools throughout the sales and marketing process to not only attract more customers, to not only keep the attention of those customers, but to make the sales process more efficient and more effective.

The caveat I would give there is, I think, a lot of companies are letting the tail wag the dog. You know, there’s a lot of technology tools out there that look great and can be justified in a vacuum on their own but may not be the biggest priority for a given organization.

You’ve got tools that get bought and don’t get fully implemented. You’ve got tools that get bought and then left on a shelf and you’re still paying for it. And then you buy another tool that basically does the same thing four times over. So I don’t think marketing technology is very well managed by a lot of companies, but I think the potential continues to accelerate literally every day as new tools become available and as the capabilities of those tools expand.

 

Micalizzi: If I could follow up on that, I think it’s so common that. you know, marketing will evaluate a tool in a vacuum from sales. And what are you finding with your clients? Like, how are you getting them over the wall so that they’re not buying five different products that do similar things?

 

Heinz: Yeah, well, I mean there’s plenty of tools that, you know, marketing can use on their own and that sales isn’t involved with or other departments aren’t involved with. But even then, what problem is that tool solving? And is that one of your biggest problems? Are you investing first and foremost on the biggest bottlenecks and roadblocks you have to either, closing more deals, increasing your velocity and policing your throughput, taking something that’s a manual process and automating it?

You know, knowing up front like, “What does success look like with that tool?” How are you going to measure whether that tool was successful or not? And then over time, how are you going to, ongoing, make sure that they still [are] delivering that result?

We talk [to] a lot with clients about doing a regular technology audit. First of all, most companies have no idea how many tools they have. I mean, we’re a small company. We’re 10 people. We, at the beginning of the year, did a marketing technology audit. We have 45 tools, right? And some of those are free. And some of those are, like, five bucks in content curation, this and that. But 45?

I mean, it’s amazing., You ask the question — we did this on a Webinar once — we asked the question, like, “How many marketing technology tools do you think you have?” And the majority of people were like, “Eh, like, three to five.” Like they’re thinking, “I’ve got Salesforce. I’ve got Pardot. And I’ve got a couple of little — whatever.”

And then over the course of the presentation we’d kind of walk through what we consider sort of core building blocks of a good mar-tech [marketing-technology] stack. And at the end we said, “Now how many tools do you think you have?” And we’d have, “Oh, yeah. I forgot about that one. Forgot about that one.”

So, I mean, not only does that become unwieldy, and you’re not, sort of, most companies aren’t effectively managing all those together, but they’re not optimizing that stack over time. Twenty years people were relentless at optimizing their advertising mix, like what channels they’re using, what ads, what copy they’re using. You’ve got to do the same with the technology today to make sure it’s effective.

 

Hopkins: So how do you see sales fitting into that? We know marketing technology is kind of blooming, going a little crazy. How do you see sales kind of getting some of that, like drafting off of that or how is it trickling down to sales? We know CRM is kind of their native tool.

 

Heinz: I mean, CRM’s the native tool. Most every company, you know, has some version of that that they’re using. But I think the opportunity for technology in sales is just as great. Right? The opportunity to make your sales team more effective, to help your mobile sales team be more effective on the road when they’re not in front of a laptop or in front of their computer.

We’re seeing some great tools by companies like Outreach and SalesLoft and Tout and others, that are providing productivity platforms on top of Salesforce to help sales reps be more effective, to be more productive.

The challenge I think that sales teams have is there isn’t someone naturally in most sales teams that owns the technology stack. Right? You’ve got a sales manager, a sales VP, a sales team that are doing the selling. You may have someone in a sales operations or sales administrative role, but they traditionally are reactive and tactical and not thinking about the software stack.

So whereas in marketing, you have a marketing ops person or even a demand gen person that’s thinking about using the tools. They don’t always have a counterpart on the sales side.

So either sales teams need to create that role, create someone that is that strategic sales operation role. Or in many cases, we’re seeing marketing play that role for sales and creating what many companies call “sales enablement.” Right?

 

Hopkins: Yeah.

 

Heinz: And, for me, sales enablement is owning the sales technology stack. It’s owning the tools they’re using, the processes they’re using. You know, making sure they’ve got the right content for the right situation. Yeah, the sales technology opportunity is, I could argue, it’s more important than the marketing opportunity, but there’s been less attention on it and that needs to change.

 

Hopkins: Cool. Kind of shifting gears here, but you’ve given talks before about marketing taking on a revenue-based goal similar to sales. Can you talk a little more about that? And I think we have some follow-ups to that.

 

Heinz: Well, it was exciting last year to start to hear more marketers says that their primary goal wasn’t marketing-qualified leads, it was sales pipeline contribution. That is not the majority of marketers, but I’m certainly hearing it more, and that’s exciting.

Historically, I’ve heard a lot of marketers say that they’re not willing to embrace revenue responsibility because they don’t feel like they have control over when the deal gets done. I have yet to meet a salesperson that has control when the deal gets done. I mean, you know, in complex selling, CEB says there are 6.8 members of the internal buying committee.

So whoever you’re talking to, at the buyer, like, they don’t have control. Right? So let’s take control off the table. And just assume that no matter what, if you don’t close deals, you don’t get to work there anymore just because the business goes away.

 

Hopkins: Yeah.

 

Heinz: So, embracing revenue responsibility is not about what you control, it’s about what’s important to the business. You know, I think too many marketers have their operational dashboard, and that’s what they report to the business. They say, “Well, what we do is open rates and click rates. And what we do is retweet and engagement and share a brand.” As opposed to, “What we do is drive revenue. What we do is drive lifetime value.”

If your dashboard makes more sense to the CFO than your digital marketing manager as a marketing department, that probably is the right dashboard.

I would even say, anything with a QL at the end of it, like, if it’s an acronym that you learned at a marketing conference, do not report that to the rest of the organization as your metric. If you have to explain your metric to the CFO, you are going in the wrong direction. You know?

 

Hopkins: Yeah.

 

Heinz: So I just fundamentally think the sales team doesn’t control when the deal closes necessarily. Marketing doesn’t either. That doesn’t change the fact that that’s the right goal. And it does, in doing that, [it] changes behavior. I mean, you can’t underestimate the cultural difference in saying, “Our goal is not MQLs. Our goal is pipeline contribution. Our goal is to close deals.”

I’ve literally sat across the table from digital marketing managers in marketing organizations that say they are sales-centric and revenue-oriented, and a digital marketing manager will not change their advertising mix because they’re not willing to spend more on a cost-per-lead basis, even if it means getting the better prospects in the door.

 

Micalizzi: Right.

 

Heinz: Right? So there’s still a focus on what sounds like the right metrics, but in this grand scheme of the revenue objective, is absolutely the wrong way to go.

 

Hopkins: Yeah, the eyes are not on the prize ultimately.

 

Heinz: Right.

 

Hopkins: And do you come up against like attribution problems with that? Like I know marketing wants to take credit for what they can.

 

Heinz: Yeah.

 

Hopkins: Sales ultimately wants to take credit for the sale because they get paid that way. But how do you advise clients or how do you see clients managing that attribution issue? Like marketing wants a revenue goal, but how do they prove that their marketing efforts contributed to a revenue goal?

 

Heinz: Well, so attribution is both the priority and the problem. Right? I think it’s a priority because you want to know in a complex buying environment what’s working. You want to see which of your content, which of your processes, which of your channels is having the biggest impact. But when we get into the conversation of, “Well, did marketing do more? Did sales do more?” Like, that is an unproductive conversation.

Like, I really don’t care. You know, the SiriusDecisions has data that shows the bigger the deal, the lower likely the deal was sourced by sales, not marketing. That doesn’t mean marketing doesn’t get credit for having, helping, with that deal.

It may have been sourced by someone at a show or an event or a cold call, but how well did that person already understand the brand, know what the company stood for, from content, PR, whatever, from marketing? And then once that deal’s on the table, and again, from a sale- enablement standpoint, what tools, what processes, what content can marketing deliver to sales to make that conversation go better? To get a higher conversion rate?

So the “he said, she said,” of who gets credit, sales versus marketing, doesn’t help anybody. Like, you’re all in this together. Like, you either all fail or you all succeed.

And that, again, like, you can’t underestimate the cultural impact that has in organizations. I mean, sales teams are used to, not trusting marketing to give them what they need. So this is not a, “Let’s have a half-hour conversation and we’re going to fix all this.” It’s going to take some time, and honestly, even though I come from the marketing side, marketers are going to have to prove through their work, their daily execution, that they’re actually going to put their money where their mouth is on this.

 

Micalizzi: So I’m curious, for the sales leaders listening in, how do you recommend they start that conversation? Because there is so much history and often so much animosity, but I think sales leaders are at the point where they need to do something and really get marketing on board.

 

Heinz: Well, there’s a couple things they can do. I mean I think it’s going to be hard for a sales leader to kind of push their counterpart directly to sort of embrace revenue. It needs to come from the top. It needs to come from, you know, either you work for a CRO or you work for a COO or a CEO. Like, they have to be behind this. And so you need some executive power to sort of get marketing on board with this.

Another thing I’ve seen some sales teams do is literally give up inside sales to marketing.

So if marketing no longer owns just MQLs, if marketing now owns the sales-qualified leads, meaning marketing isn’t just handing off hand raisers that downloaded a white paper, they’re handing off people that have been confirmed to have some version of budget authority, need, timeline. So that sales-development role, which has always been a sales role, marketing now owns that, right?

And, so, if sales is willing to say, “Hey, I’m going to give this up so that we have better alignment so you’re delivering me better leads, not just better leads, but better opportunities,” it’s an opportunity for marketing to step up.

Now, the sales leaders can’t do that on their own. They still have to have some leadership support to do that. But that give to marketing oftentimes gives the sales team the ability to go and focus more on deals and get far better output out of marketing in a pretty short period of time.

 

Hopkins: Yeah, I’ve seen too in organizations where the sales development or market development role is the flag on the tug-of-war rope. You know, I think they go back and forth. You know, so it can be tricky. I’ve also heard some people suggest, what if sales took over lead gen, or portions of lead gen? Have you heard that? What do you think that would even look like?

 

Heinz: Well, sales has always, in many cases, felt like they have to own lead gen. Right? I mean, especially if, in many cases marketing is hitting quote-unquote their lead goal, but they’re crap leads. And so you know, marketing may say, “Well, we hit our lead goal, let’s go party. We hit our retweet goal.” But if those weren’t good leads, sales still has to hit their number. They still have to come up with pipeline.

So I mean, even today I hear sales team say, like, “Whatever we get from marketing’s gravy, but I don’t trust they’re going to give us our pipeline, so we’ve got to go get it ourselves.” That’s the reality. That’s been the reality forever for sales.

But that’s dangerous, right? I mean, you think about your expensive, you know, high potential salespeople, if they’re doing all the prospecting on their own at scale, like is that really active selling? So like, I have a problem with that. And I think that that’s a failure of marketing, but I think that it’s also a failure of sales if they accept that that’s their job and don’t, like, raise hell about it. Right?

Don’t go back to whoever it is they should, and say, “There has got to be a better way.” The average B2B seller spends 25% of their time actively selling, 75% of their time is doing things that are not active selling tasks.

Now, it’s never going to be 80%, but what are the things you could make faster? Whether it’s, like, streamlined CRM-like processes. Whether it’s creating the content for the sales team, taking the prospecting off their plate. So they’re spending even — I mean, forget 50% — go from 25% to 33% active selling time across just a couple hundred people on a sales force, that’s a massive increase in productivity.

And honestly, I think if marketing can deliver that, however that happens, whether it’s tools, process, content, that is a massive contribution to the revenue goal for the sales team.

 

Hopkins: Yes. So, you see kind of that tide shifting. Selling is focused on sales; marketing does the rest of the stuff. And we’ve seen, you know, the customer, digital channels being owned by marketing, and marketing has taken over what maybe traditionally was sales prospecting or pipeline gen. Do you see that happening a little bit more or staying kind of in that —

 

Heinz: I do. I mean, I’ll even take it a step further. I think in many B2B organizations, what we think of as marketing, we should start thinking of as sales development, right? And sales development is sort of a baked word a little bit because we think about that as sort of inside sales or SDR teams.

But if you think about what marketing is doing, not as like, “Oh, here’s some T-shirts. Oh, we’re going to make sure the logo is always at a 12-degree angle. You know, we’re all using the same font in our RFPs.” I mean, that’s all nice, but marketing’s role is sales. Marketing’s role is developing sales, creating the condition for sales, creating the opportunities for sales.

And so like, I’m not saying we change the title of the department, but if you start acting like you’re the sales-development department and sort of prioritize what you’re doing accordingly? Like, you asked the question about attribution. Attribution’s hard. I mean, like, the buying process is getting more and more complex. For the foreseeable future, the complexity of the buying process is going to far outpace our ability to measure that well.

But what’s more important to me than precision is intent. I want a marketing team that has the right intentions, that has the right objectives. That is triaging at an annual planning basis and on a daily tactical basis, things that are going to help the company make money.

 

Hopkins: Yeah, I mean, I think ultimately the definition of marketing is sales at scale, right?

 

Micalizzi: So I’m curious, we’ve talked about, you know, in some places the inside sales function moving over to marketing, and, you know, we’ve also talked about other things from marketing, I’m curious — that traditional line between sales and marketing, where else are you seeing that shift and change?

 

Heinz: Well, we’re seeing it, we talked about the inside sales team and sales development role sometimes being part of marketing. We talked a little bit about tools and process and having marketing sort of play an active role in sales enablement. And, in many cases, that is playing a more strategic version of sales operations that has traditionally been on the sales team’s plate.

We see the top three time wasters for salespeople when they’re not selling, and we did some research on this last year. Number one is time in CRM. Right? And I believe fundamentally that you have the best CRM system in the world if you have Salesforce.

Your job is to help your sales team spend as little time in Salesforce as possible. Right? Because the more time they’re in the tool, the less time they’re selling. That doesn’t mean you’re not using it all day, every day, but you know, you want to minimize your time in CRM. But the other two time wasters are creating content and looking for content.

You know, I think it was Forrester that said that, “Ninety percent of sales content goes unused.” And I think it’s not necessarily just because they can’t find it, because it’s not the right content. You think about the specific situation, this customer in this industry at this stage in my buying process. I can’t just have one piece of sales collateral that fits for all of those, right?

So I think if marketers start to better understand the sales process and map that sales process to a buying journey where they know the personas that are going through that, they can start to create the processes. They can start to create more precise content. The sales team is not having to create that on their own. The sales team can go focus on selling.

 

Hopkins: So do you see that being a collaboration between marketing and sales? Or do you feel like marketing just needs to know the buying process better?

 

Heinz: No, it’s absolutely a collaboration. I think traditionally you’ve seen, sort of, you know, marketing owns the top of the funnel and sales owns the bottom of the funnel. There’s this hand off of leads and sales sheets and script books in the middle, right?

 

Hopkins: Right.

 

Heinz: I think today it’s very much a handshake throughout most of the buying journey. I think, generally, marketing has a bigger role at the beginning, sales has a bigger role at the end, but let’s take your target account selling. We can talk about #ABM if you want, but I’m not going to talk about it right now. I’m not even going to call it ABM. I’ll tell you, if you’re doing named account selling, all right? Let’s go old school.

Sales is involved at the beginning of that process. You’re not waiting for a lead. Like, we have a client that their target market is 120 companies. They’re not waiting for the leads to show up on Google, right? They’re going after them proactively, so sales is involved up front.

And then we’ve already said, like you know, marketing can be involved in getting content and process and tools even at the late closing stages of the deal. Like I hate most proposals that we see from companies because all it does it get right into the scope of work. It’s the description of what you are going to get as opposed to reinforcing the why.

Like you send someone a scope of work? You send someone a proposal? There’s going to be someone in procurement or someone at a senior level that is going to see that and hear about your company for the first time, and they have not been part of the pitch. And they were not part of the why conversation you had at the beginning.

So every touchpoint there is an opportunity to reinforce why someone’s engaging with you. So I mean, there’s a thousand examples you can give up and down the sales process that show that this really is a partnership between sales and marketing throughout now. It makes this far more complicated, no question. Right? But that’s just the way it is now.

 

Hopkins: So it’s starting to kind of form for me, like, and not, you know, solidified in my mind obviously, but there’s a team, there’s a super team with superhero powers. “Marketing has the superpower of — blank. Sales has the superpower of — blank.” What do you think those blanks are?

 

Heinz: If I had to divide the sales process into just two stages, I would say marketing’s job is to get someone to believe and sales’ job is to get someone to believe in us. And I honestly think, my first thought on answering that is to say, “Well, they both have both of those jobs.” And — but “believe” has to come first. You know, before someone’s interested in learning about what you do, they have to understand why they need it. This is the classic, “Sell the hole, not the drill,” kind of conversation.

So I think marketing’s opportunity to get someone, to steal some language from SiriusDecisions, to get someone to loosen the status quo of whatever they’re dealing with and commit to change, like, commit to a change for themselves — that is required before someone cares about your demo. Before someone cares about your product. Before someone understands why they need that product. Getting that commitment to change, I think, is the most important and the hardest part of the sales process. And I think that, in many organizations, marketing can own that stage. Marketing can own the hardest part of the sales process.

It doesn’t mean you don’t need a salesperson. Right? I mean complex selling, you’re always going to have salespeople involved. And those salespeople have to continue to reinforce the “believe,” to get someone to continue to be motivated on the, “Believe in us.” But, I mean, it has to happen in that direction.

 

Micalizzi: What advice do you have for our sales audience on how to better embrace the marketing efforts?

 

Heinz: Well, I think too often there is an adversarial relationship between sales and marketing. In 99% of situations, sales and marketing are both working with the best of intentions. Marketing is not trying to deliver bad leads to sales. Sales is not trying to ignore follow-up on your leads. Right?

If sales isn’t following up on your leads, either you have not done a good enough job of communicating why those leads are valuable or sales has discovered that they are in fact crap leads and they should go do something else with their time to try to make their commission check.

So I think that that level of understanding and empathy and transparency has to exist between sales and marketing. I also think there has to be a recognition that if you’re going to do this well, you’re going to break glass. Things are not going to work. You’re going to try new messages that are going to fail. You’re going to try new campaigns that are going to generate crappy leads. You are going to hire salespeople that suck.

And that’s just part of the process, you know? But I think if you come into that with a common set of objectives, with a common understanding, with empathy, I think you’re able to get through that a lot more quickly.

You’re able to get through those roadblocks and discover how to fix it and how to move forward productively.

 

Micalizzi: So I know a lot of the time when we talk about sales and marketing alignment, we’re always talking about the sales leader and what role they play in that process. What about the frontline rep? What can they be doing to help better integrate, to help bring the organization together?

 

Heinz: Well, first of all, is to be transparent about what’s working or what’s not working. I see some sales organization [use] what they call the “455 email.” And it’s an email that sales reps send at 4:55 in the afternoon, and answers, like, four questions. And it’s 455 because you send it at 4:55 and if it takes you longer than five minutes, you’re doing it wrong, you know?

 

Micalizzi: OK.

 

Heinz: So it’s, like, you know, “What went well today? What didn’t go well today? What’s something new you discovered that you didn’t know before today?” It could be about, you know, customer insight, industry insights. And, like, you know, “What’s something that you need to help sell more?”

And so what’s interesting about that is, it’s a feedback loopback to the managers. The managers can see those emails from multiple people and start to see, “Are there trends? Are there trends developing?” It’s fast and quick feedback. You know, ideally they’re things you could start to react to and manage the next day.

So if you’re a sales rep listening to this, if your organization does not have a 455 email, start sending your manager a 455 email. Right? I mean, start talking to your manager and your leadership about what’s working and what’s not.

I would also ask salespeople to assume that your marketing team — assume that your sales operations team, assume that your technology people — are working with the best of intentions. They’re not telling you to report on something in Salesforce because they want you to spend less time selling. There’s a reason for that. Everything the organization is doing is to try to make you more money. Right?

And if you don’t understand how something is not making you more money, ask the question, like, “How does this benefit me?” Don’t do it in an adversarial way. Just say, “No, I want to learn. I want to make sure I understand it and I’m using it well.”

But, you know, I see way too many salespeople just kind of get stuck in their own ways and fail to adopt new technology, fail to adopt new process, to their own detriment, and I think what can solve a lot of that is just people just expressing their feedback, expressing their opinion, just sharing and being open again in that sort of transparent, empathetic environment to unblock those challenges whether they exist or not.

 

Hopkins: So in the spirit of bonus content, let’s take that, let’s pick a scab on that a little more. At least for me in my career, it’d be interesting to get your insight. Competitive intelligence. Often marketing is tasked with competitive intelligence. I’ve been in that role before.

It’s definitely a more sales-serving role. They want the competitive intelligence so they can know how to sell against competitors. They don’t have the time to research everything. But it’s never good enough.

It’s never the right intelligence. It’s never perfect for their specific situation. How have you seen people address that better? How do you think marketing and sales could work better on competitive selling, competitive intelligence and make it easier for both sides?

 

Heinz: I think competitive intelligence is overdone. I think the impact of competitors is overdone. I think when most people think they’re competing against an actual competitor, they’re actually not selling well. They’re not raising and addressing the issues the customer actually has.

Most deals don’t get lost to a competitor. Most deals get lost to nothing. People just choose not to do something differently. If you fail to get the commitment to change, if you fail to sort of convince someone they should do something differently, they’re not going to act. And that’s the main reason why a lot of people don’t buy.

So, look, I mean, you can’t ignore your competitors and there’s a lot you can learn from what they’re doing and what they’re not doing, you have to be aware of the way they’re positioning things and what presence they have in the marketplace, but when I hear a salesperson tell me they’re up against a competitor, eight times out of 10 what’s really happening is they have failed to create differentiation and value in their own solution.

 

Hopkins: Yeah.

 

Heinz: And that’s not a direct answer to your question, but I think that’s the biggest problem I see from a competitive standpoint.

 

Hopkins: No, I mean, there’s insight there. I think a lot of salespeople have meltdowns when they’re facing an air quotes “competitive” situation.

 

Heinz: It’s an excuse.

 

Hopkins: And it affects marketing. Marketing feels like they have to scramble to help but —

 

Heinz: Well, look, we’ve all met the salesperson that never runs out of excuses, right? “Well, I can’t sell because of this competitor. I can’t sell because I don’t have this piece of collateral. I can’t sell because I don’t have this feature,” right?

Well, OK, there’s always going to be something that you’re missing. There’s always going to be competitors out there that would prefer to sell the deal versus what you want to sell. That’s always going to exist, but rarely is that objection the real problem.

 

Micalizzi: Thank you so much for joining us in the studio.

 

Heinz: Awesome. Thanks for having me.

 

Micalizzi: And, Jim, I’m so excited to have you here joining me to co-host today.

 

Hopkins: Yeah, thanks, guys. Awesome discussion.

 

Micalizzi: And remember, the best way to keep up with all things Quotable is by subscribing at quotable.com/subscribe. And if you loved this episode, share it with your peers and customers. Thanks.

 
 
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