Sales and Marketing Alignment with Ashley Estilette

It takes two to tango and Ashley Estilette, VP of Integrated Marketing at Enverus, knows that the alignment between Sales and Marketing is critical to delivering Personal Experience.
Ashley Estilette Office Hours


MK: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome

to another episode of office hours. I am super excited. To learn from today’s guest Ashley. Who’s going to be telling us all about things. Sales and marketing alignment works, marketing related before we get into all of that stuff. I mean, Ashley, this background is. Amazing your Christmas decorations are on point,

Ashley: [00:00:47] YOu know, locked up in COVID.

We had to do something, you know, you just have to, we’re stuck at home. I might as well be looking at a really pretty Christmas tree, I guess.

MK: [00:00:57] So it does. Do you do your binge washing habits also match your, your also a physical aesthetic for Christmas and holidays right now?

Ashley: [00:01:05] Totally. Totally. Yep. Yep.

Hallmark Christmas movie. Yeah. Okay. Love actually it’s it’s Christmas themed kind of movie at one of my favorites.

MK: [00:01:16] Got it. Now, are you, are you in the camp that die hard is a Christmas movie or are you in the camp? That it is not a Christmas.

Ashley: [00:01:23] Oh, great question. I think Christmas movie, I mean, anything that takes place during that season for sure.

Counts.

MK: [00:01:30] Okay. Done. All right. Good to know. I’m gonna write that down Christmas. All right. Perfect. Done.

Ashley: [00:01:35] Well.

MK: [00:01:36] In addition to your affinity for holiday decorating what other five to nine hobbies do you have?

Ashley: [00:01:44] Five to nine. We’ll see. I’ll say one through eight is raising toddlers and everything that goes along with it.

Love to play tennis. Love to work out, love to be outside. So, so those are probably. Probably stayed at my top, but my schedule is pretty full with a three and five-year-old and working full time and all that good stuff. So it’s a, it’s an interesting time to be stuck at home for sure.

MK: [00:02:10] Absolutely. Wow. And are the kiddos home too?

Ashley: [00:02:13] They’re they’re back in school now. So we’re seeing how that whole scenario plays out. So far, so good. Knock on wood. Everybody’s happy and healthy.

MK: [00:02:21] So. Good. I love to hear that. So if you are not wrangling holiday decorations around your house or two children, what could you be found doing in your nine to five?

Ashley: [00:02:33] So I head up marketing for an energy analytics and technology company called Enverus. Really, I think my biggest passion for marketing comes just in the variety that it brings. I love the energy. Everybody you meet in marketing tends to just have this kind of. You know, super excited way about them, whether they’re an extrovert or an introvert, there’s always something that really gets them sort of worked up and passionate.

So I love that and I love all the different elements that marketing touches and, you know, kind of further on in my career. I’ve I’ve realized how big of a voice marketing really ought to have in an organization. Really working cross-functionally and things like that. So that’s been that’s been a huge passion of mine.

MK: [00:03:14] That is so cool. I mean, marketers are starting to realize now more and more that they own more of the customer journey than they ever have before. I’m noticing as marketers talk and think about themselves, not just as a net new acquisition logos specialists. They’re really more of the holistic customer journey representative.

And you know, marketers can never really reign themselves in they’re very excitable folks, uptown.

Ashley: [00:03:40] That’s totally true.

MK: [00:03:42] You in architecting that customer journey and architecting that customer experience have found a knack for helping to get better sales and marketing alignment. Where, where did this come from?

This is a, this is no small thing. Undertaking to get sales and marketing. Who’ve acted like cats and dogs. Historically, talk to me more about your affinity for getting sales and marketing on the same page and driving efficiency.

Ashley: [00:04:06] Yeah. So I think a lot of it just came from you know, I was fortunate to work for some really great companies in my, in my past.

Some really great at sort of linking arm-in-arm with sales, linking arm-in-arm with product sort of everybody marching toward the same strategy and some fell a little bit behind in that respect where you sort of had this more. Traditional, how we think of sales and marketing, where sales kind of goes out and does their thing.

Marketing kind of does the the lead gen stuff you know, events and things like that. And there really isn’t a lot of cohesion and. For me very, very quickly. I realized which side of the playing field I wanted to be on. And it was, you know, without question the one where you’re just in lock step with sales I truly don’t think that marketing can do a good job unless we are just you know, arm and arm with the sales team.

MK: [00:04:57] Yeah, it’s almost like when you, when you use workout and you use those resistance bands and you’re like fighting the resistance, you’re fighting, you’re fighting. And then as soon as you take it off, everything just feels so much easier. Like that’s the right representation or metaphor for what it feels like when you have that cohesion between sales, marketing, that triangulation between sales, marketing, and product.

And we don’t have that. It just, everything feels that much harder. And you’re burning that much more excess energy to try to get initiatives across the line or launched or like circle back and try to refine.

Ashley: [00:05:30] Exactly. Yep. Yep. It can, it can be really tough. But it’s not an easy feat, right? To your point.

It’s not an easy thing to necessarily do,

MK: [00:05:39] not at all, but I love the way that you’ve thought through developing better systems and best practices for building the sales and marketing alignment that you need to have to reduce that friction reduce the amount of inefficiencies that you have in your organization, but also operate it at scale, can you, can you give me some context and insight into first off how you came up with this framework for yourself? And then where it’s actually made impact in the organizations that you’ve spent time actually helping to run?

Ashley: [00:06:10] Yeah. Yeah. So I drafted a couple just a couple of visuals here. If you want me to throw them up and yeah,

MK: [00:06:18] absolutely.

We’re all about visual AIDS here

Ashley: [00:06:19] about the visuals. And so when it came to kind of you know, this framework, one of the biggest things for me was how do you give yourself that gut check? And as you’re sort of just in the day-to-day you know, executing on campaigns, executing on strategies, how do you sort of take that step back and say, am I aligned with sales?

Am I not aligned with sales? What is, what are some of the things that we can kind of look at? To really sort of give yourself that honest feedback. So I kind of separated these in, in sort of red flags and green flags on the red flag side, there’s a few things that I’ve, that I’ve sort of found have been super critical.

If you don’t know the named accounts probably a little bit of a red flag, meaning most organizations have got sort of those top five, 10 20 accounts. That, that sales has all stacked hands and said, these are going to be big for us this year. These are going to be needle movers. They’re going to impact our revenue, you know, SIG significantly.

And so I think of marketing doesn’t have visibility into that. It’s probably an opportunity for them to get a little bit closer, nudge a little bit closer to sales and understand that. Same thing when it comes to kind of execution. So if I’m one of the gut check questions, I always kind of asked my team is do we, are we feeling like we’re just an execution arm?

Are we feeling like sales is just kind of coming to us and saying, Hey, I need a webinar. Hey, I need this. If you don’t have much visibility into what activity you need to be doing past this week into the next week, into the next quarter. And, and sometimes even through the end of the year again, probably just an opportunity missed you’re probably just misaligned with sales.

You’re, you’re a little bit more of sort of that execution arm. So I always thought that was a great question to kind of give yourself that gut check, right? Yeah. And then some of the sales metrics like this was another one for for my team more recently is what are the things sales are looking at.

So super great that we track MQL, SQLs, bookings, you know, that’s sort of our world, but I think sometimes marketers can get a little bit wrapped around the axle, just focused on the things we’re doing. Take a step back and say, do I know what my sales leaders are looking at? Do I know what those dashboards look like?

Do I know what those critical metrics are for sales? Because my world and all the activity I’m doing certainly should line up with with all of that.

MK: [00:08:36] Yeah, I think this is super insightful as well too. It’s this it’s marketing one Oh one to know your personas, right? To know the audience that you’re going after.

And in most marketers world, they’re either supporting a revenue generating sales team or they’re supporting like a revenue generating customer success team is responsible for accountants. You mentioned cross sell upsell. And I’m like the way that you synthesize this in a way that says, you know what, marketers, you need to know your stakeholders internally, just as well as you need to know your stakeholders externally.

Ashley: [00:09:08] Exactly, exactly. One of the things that I always I always tell my team and that I learned very early on is, you know, we’re marketers for a reason. Cause that’s what we’re good at. Why not take that skill and use it in marketing. Totally get that trust from sales. And so, and so I think that’s absolutely huge to them.

MK: [00:09:26] Got it. Oh, that makes a ton of sense. Okay. So if you don’t know your buyer personas internally, very well, specifically their motivators, their challenges, their measurements of success. Like get back in there. You have some more work to do to deep dive and dig into that. But. How do you know when things are, are actually working?

Ashley: [00:09:44] Yeah, so, so I listed a couple of things here. Sales proactively coming to you. So this is sort of a can be a newer one. It seems a little bit obvious, but I, but I don’t know that it always is. Again, when you kind of ask yourself, are we, are we just this execution arm? Or do we actually see sales sort of knocking on our door saying.

Man, I, you know, this deal is stuck. This deal deal’s stalled. How can you guys kind of help me move it through the pipeline or accelerate the pipeline? I actually had one of our, one of our marketers recently come to me and she was super, super excited because she sort of had this breakthrough with her sales team and she said, you know, they’ve, they’ve been working on this deal for almost six months.

All of a sudden kind of stalled out. Can’t get in front of the right. People can’t get ahold of anybody. And so sales actually proactively kind of came to her and said, look, we don’t know what to do. What do you guys have in kind of your tool box? How can we get really creative around you know, picking the steel back up and moving it through the sales cycle?

And so she was just ecstatic. And so even from like a you know, kind of a moral standpoint, it does just wonders for your team to feel like a true partner with sales.

MK: [00:10:54] Yeah, we, we think about our role as like an assembly line here where we’re responsible if they are historically, we’ve thought about it as an assembly line in a way, but it’s much more of a team sport now where we all kind of need to swarm around the problem that we have at any given time to help alleviate that pain point and kudos to the rep on your team for getting so excited to like opening those lines of communication and kudos to the team as a whole for recognizing that when you.

More heads are better than one to problem solve for the needs of the organization.

Ashley: [00:11:26] Yup. Yup. And it all comes down to trust, right? The sales team has to, has to feel like they can trust you. Weekly sales calls. This was another one that we kind of pushed. You know, if you’re not on weekly sales calls, you should be.

And I think when you get to that point and sales is saying, Hey, marketing is going to give their update. What do we have going on? How are we making sure that sales and marketing are are really aligned? That to me kind of gives you that you know, that green flag, that green light, that you’re, that you’re doing the right thing, you’re involved in the right types of conversations that sales is having, you know, and then the last one really it’s numbers.

I mean, we talk about it all the time. Right. But you can’t, you can’t do all of this activity and do all this work to try and gain trust for sale from sales. You don’t kind of have the numbers to support it. So hugely important, whatever that might be, whether it’s you know, better quality leads that you’re bringing in increasing average deal size, because you’re sort of.

Partnered more strategically with sales on that messaging and positioning and really tightening up the way that they’re communicating with clients. That’s something we’ve seen on our end. That’s been that’s been really exciting to see. So so I think you gotta, you gotta always, you know, in the background of all this, make sure you’re keeping track of the numbers.

MK: [00:12:35] I think that’s really important. Again, I love seeing that there’s decreased churn in here. I’m a huge fan of the, the whole concept and construct of customer marketing as a demand gen or secondary demand gen engine within your business. And I think the companies that are figuring this out or realizing very early on that.

Sales and marketing have a huge, huge role to play in reducing churn, increasing customer retention and increasing that ACV or average account value or AAV as well too. And be thinking about that entire customer journey start to finish and the impact you have on CAC versus LTV.

Ashley: [00:13:11] Yep. And I, you know, it’s funny that that I think a lot of companies don’t, they get, so hyper-focused on the lead generation, which is obviously hugely important, but you sometimes forget how much of a role marketing can play in that customer retention.

And you know, my gosh, if you’ve got high churn numbers marketing can be one of the first places that you can turn to.

MK: [00:13:30] Oh, I love that. There’s probably another episode. We should come back and hold off on that one. As I’m looking through all of these red flags, green flags, what I have distilled down to be the three core ingredients that you need to have to get your sales and marketing team aligned is.

Communication first and foremost, you have to have very tight, open lines of communication, and you need to know when to communicate and to whom you need to communicate with. You also need to have that synergy around your metrics. What are your respective KPIs? And then what are your jointly owned KPIs and how can you have better visibility around into those, those data points?

And then third. Probably the most important underneath underpinning. Those two is trust. You talked about needing to have that bi-directional trust between marketing and sales. And I think trust continuously comes up. It comes up in the sales process. It comes up in the customer retention models like trust between your sales and marketing team is one of the most important variables to your success to getting that sales and marketing alignment.

Can you speak more to how you build that trust with your teams?

Ashley: [00:14:40] Yeah, for sure. And so, you know, one of the things, so this, to me, this sort of trust factor is sort of this last one. When you think about being creative and making pivots at the end of the day, sales moves fast they’re a fast paced organization.

If you can’t be responsive to that pace. I think the trust is going to break down pretty quickly. And so one of the things that I think you have to make sure you do is. Think outside the box alongside them be creative, but, but be agile, right? Marketers have to, you know, if, if your, if your organization isn’t set up today to pivot quickly and execute quickly, that’s for sure something to think about when it comes to gaining trust from sales.

There’s a super cool approach and philosophy that Jeff Bezos has around decision-making. And it’s about a one way door and a two way door. And if you haven’t looked it up for sure, too it’s super fascinating, but basically the concept is empowering people to make decisions and think about decisions as a one-way door or two-way door.

The one-way door is sort of you make a decision and it’s pretty irreversible pretty final. You’re not gonna, you’re not going to be easily kind of be able to back out of that decision. So an example might be, I quit my job, right. Hard hard to take that one back, right? It’s not pretty final decision to wait for.

Do way door decision would be where you, you are agile. You make a quick decision, but should it be maybe the wrong call or you need to make an adjustment or something you can kind of. Come back out the door and try again. Right. And so I think empowering your teams, your marketing teams, to make those decisions alongside sales move quickly.

You know, if you kind of take a wrong turn or decide you need to do something different then do that. But you know, if you’re able to move move quicker, I think that trust was sales really, really helps. You know, is just increased by making those quick decisions.

MK: [00:16:38] I like the term that you use too with empowerment, I think empowerment leads to better problem solving and better problem solving leads to better innovation and allows your team to have the agility that they need to be creative and find abstract solutions to the really complex problems are faced day to day.

And when we are famous enough at office hours. So your host, Jeff Bezos will talk about it. Yeah. And used to doors.

Ashley: [00:17:04] Totally. It’s Really really interesting. And, you know, you think of a company like Amazon they’re this total behemoth, but they move quickly. Like I think they just they just recently kind of announced that they’re getting into some of the pharmaceutical side of the business.

So, I mean, just to a rapidly moving an innovative company. And I think that philosophy really says a lot for for the way they operate. He does.

MK: [00:17:27] And I like that word empowerment. It really underneath empowerment though, is trust. Fundamentally, you have to trust that folks are making the decisions that they’re empowered to make those decisions, that they have the ability to discern between a one-way door versus a two-way door.

And that’s where the agility comes in. So when it comes to sales and marketing alignment, they need to be trusted that they can know their areas of domain expertise, but also collaborate in what we call yes. And each other. It’s an old improv technique to never say no in the middle of a scene that you’re acting out, but you should always yes.

And that scene so that it leads to better growth in and development of the situation or the scene itself.

Ashley: [00:18:08] I love that. I love that. And you know, it goes back to kind of what we were saying at the beginning where part of gaining that trust, it’s not easy and sometimes you have to be a marketer internally.

So, you know, I’ve, I’ve got it on here as sort of one of my, one of my main things that I just constantly, constantly Hammer home is just be able to take your marketing skills and why you’re so good. Like you said, outlining your personas. What are your internal personas look like? You know, treat them kind of the same way that you, that you market externally understand what their needs are, what are their challenges?

And then how do you kind of take that head on right alongside them? And I think I think that’s where you’ll start to really see a lot of trust form between sales and marketing teams.

MK: [00:18:48] Absolutely. And that, that doesn’t just translate into new bookings. It doesn’t translate into just customer retention.

It actually isn’t away from marketers. So work smarter, not harder because when your sales team trusts you, they’ll actually proactively go out of their way to be a little marketer for you as well too. They’ll share more content with their networks. They’ll share their thought leadership and own their own personal brand development.

Just using the mechanisms that you’ve developed internally as well.

Ashley: [00:19:14] Yep, absolutely. Absolutely.

MK: [00:19:16] I think that’s So, so insightful. Okay. So again, TLDR summarizing it, the key ingredients that you need to have for that sales and marketing alignment stems from communication and making sure you’re communicating effectively with each other marketing internally, just as well.

You’re still remarketing externally. The second thing is coming down to the metrics, understanding what KPIs exist for both organizations and then finding those overlapping metrics. To your success. And then third, but probably one of the most important gradients to all this is going to be that trust using that trust to build better relationships, which then allow you to foster better innovation and have better decision-making happening happen.

And you can increase those decrease those sales cycles and increase the ACB that you have coming in. And then ideally also reducing churn as customers. You’re having more qualified customers come in at the initial sale.

Ashley: [00:20:10] Exactly. Exactly. And think how, think, how innovative you start to become alongside your sales team when you guys are all marching in the same direction.

I mean, it’s just it’s becomes really, really exciting.

MK: [00:20:23] Love to see it. Ashley, thank you so much for sharing this framework, sharing your insights today and how to get better sales and marketing alignment. If people want to pick your brain for a little bit more experience, or if they want to figure out how do I get trust?

How do I build trust? How can they reach out to you? How can they get in touch with

Ashley: [00:20:41] you?

I would say for sure. Shoot me a note on LinkedIn. I’m, I’m always on, I’m constantly picking up, you know, new tips and tricks and listening to, to sort of this broad marketing network that you guys are helping form that you know, a lot of other organizations are helping kind of pull together.

So absolutely love. It would love to connect with anybody.

MK: [00:20:58] So, well, we’re going to hit you up for sure, too, with our pro tips that we learned from sales and marketing alignment. Thank you so much. One final takeaway what’s you know, what’s the one thing that you think that sales and marketing are missing today that they need to have to be crazy, crazy successful.

Ashley: [00:21:18] I mean, I would say, I would say coming to the table and being creative together. I think one of the, you know, we’re in, COVID, we’re in this crazy environment what the customer’s thinking and how they’re buying and all their challenges arguably change on, on probably a weekly basis. And so I think if if teams can come together and everyone really.

Collaborate and think outside the box. Those that’s when I think you’ll see you know, a lot of magic happen and I think clients are going to be receptive to it. Everybody’s kind of tired of emails, a little bit tired of webinars, you know, how do we do those things together? That, that sort of pushed the envelope right now.

I

MK: [00:21:54] love it. Yeah. Gotta be creative. You gotta be together to be more creative and innovative. Yeah. Yeah, the nominal. Oh my gosh. Thank you for sharing all your expertise. I really appreciate it. You bet. Talk to you soon.

Ashley: [00:22:10] All right. Thanks. Bye. .

 

January 18, 2021
Stacy O.