A B2B Sales & Marketing Masterclass

5 Questions with Andy Culligan

🎓 A B2B Sales & Marketing Masterclass

Sometimes it feels like you need a PhD in lead generation to really align, motivate, and coach your sales & marketing teams. And last we checked, that program doesn’t exist.

According to our guest Andy Culligan, lead generation is a “learn it on the job” kind of role. His experience leading sales & marketing teams paints a vivid picture of what you need to understand to get everyone rowing the boat in the same direction.

Yo podcast listener – the world of B2B SaaS Sales & Marketing is daunting.

There are so many moving pieces. SDRs, AEs, Marketing Leaders, VCs, CEOs…they all have common goals, but work toward them in different ways.

Aligning those stakeholders and accurately forecasting outputs can be a nightmare.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Our guest, Andy Culligan, has a wealth of experience in leading sales & marketing efforts.

From pipeline generation & optimization to sales & marketing alignment to accurate forecasting & expectation setting, he’s done it all.

Tune in for a masterclass on running a B2B Sales & Marketing organization (with a little branding advice thrown in for good measure).

Go get em.

Our Guest

What He Does: Andy currently works as a fractional CMO & CRO for B2B SaaS companies

How to Connect: Andy’s LinkedIn | Andy’s Website

Sometimes it feels like you need a PhD in lead generation to really align, motivate, and coach your sales & marketing teams. And last we checked, that program doesn’t exist.

According to our guest Andy Culligan, lead generation is a “learn it on the job” kind of role. His experience leading sales & marketing teams paints a vivid picture of what you need to understand to get everyone rowing the boat in the same direction.

Play Video

Key Takeaways

  1. What’s the biggest issue at most organizations you consult with? Alignment? Underperforming SDR team? Weak inbound engine? What do orgs typically need the most help with?

  2. Let’s dig deeper into alignment. What are the biggest issues there? What does “alignment” even mean?

  3. Let’s talk about goals. There’s a phenomenon you call Bullshit Targets. AKA, goals that are near impossible for an SDR team to hit. What causes a company to set BT’s?

  4. How can you set reasonable goals and expectations for your team? What’s the process you use/advise?

  5. You end all of your LinkedIn posts with a “Go get ‘em.” I love that. When and why did you start doing that?

Highlights, Notes, and Resources

Biggest Takeaways

🎓 A great option for your first SDR hire is to find someone who’s about to make the leap from SDR to Team Leader/Manager. They can come into your organization and build out foundational processes while carrying a quota. Then, when you start to bring on more members to the team that first rep can shift their responsibilities from prospecting to managing.

🤝 Alignment starts with communication. If your sales and marketing teams aren’t communicating with each other regularly, alignment will be impossible. And if your teams aren’t aligned, you won’t really be able to really understand your prospects and tailor an experience for them.

👍 If your sales and marketing leadership don’t agree on definitions, processes, quality measures, etc. that will seep into their teams. It creates discontent. And that drives misalignment. Leadership needs to align FIRST. And beyond that, they need to show their reps what that alignment looks like. A good place to start is by running “sales 101,” “marketing 101,” and “lead gen 101” classes for all of your reps. Andy talks about his own experience with this at (25:03).

Conversation Highlights

Note: Timestamps correspond to the YouTube video

(8:41) The top reason Andy (and other fractional CMO, CRO, VP of Sales, etc.) gets brought into an organization? They can’t create enough pipeline. And there is a myriad of reasons behind why an org can’t do that:

  • The teams (SDRs, AEs, Marketing) aren’t pulling their weight, or they don’t have the proper resources.

  • The product is flawed in some capacity, or there isn’t market fit.

  • The company isn’t effectively generating demand (kind of a mix of the two problems above).

(10:20) Ok, if generating enough pipeline is a problem, how do you fix it? What are some steps you can take to address that?

Look long-term, not short-term. When teams have revenue issues, they tend to look at closing as the issue/thing to be fixed. And you might be able to improve close rates or get a few more deals closed, but it doesn’t fix the underlying issue.

Look at marketing – are they running campaigns that actively generate pipeline? Do they have all of the resources & knowledge to effectively capture leads?

  • Is your infrastructure set up to attract & capture the right leads (ex: high enough site speed with a transactional product to generate trial users)?

Look at the SDR team – are the reps performing at a high level? Are they displaying the right qualities (takes notes, curious, want to improve, etc.)? Are they personalizing their messages, or sending basic templates to everyone?

  • A great way to tell the difference between a good and bad SDR? Excuses. Good SDRs don’t make excuses, they find out how to get things done.

💡 Looking for more info on what to look for in a top-performing SDR? We talk all about it during Growth Month by Autoklose AND in our newest eBook.

Look at sales – are they doing their own cold outreach and building their own pipeline, or are they relying on others (SDRs, Marketing) for that? You might not like it, but it’s truly the best way to see results.

  • “The best AEs never depend on anyone else to populate their calendar.”

(15:10) “Typically one of the issues you see with (low performing) SDR teams is they don’t get enough support.” We couldn’t agree more with that. You can’t just bring on a team to check off a box and expect them to generate pipeline – they need proper training, coaching, and management to succeed as a function.

And don’t even get us started on who that team reports to…😉

(18:09) Teams tend to overcomplicate a lot of the sales & marketing processes. They run before they can walk.

Thankfully, Andy has made a lot of mistakes in his career (his words, not ours!) to know where and how to tighten up some processes during his fractional work.

(19:36) According to Gartner, only 8% of companies have what is considered “alignment” between their sales and marketing teams. 8%. That is WILD. So the chances are your sales and marketing teams are misaligned.

A lot of alignment is common sense. And unfortunately, it doesn’t prevail in most cases.

(22:45) If sales doesn’t believe in marketing, there’s a chance they go rogue. They create their own messaging and build their own campaigns, usually to poor reception.

That’s not to say salespeople can’t write good messaging. It means that when you don’t leverage the insights marketing has to offer, it can come across as inconsistent.

And vice versa. If sales and marketing aren’t sharing insights with each other and constantly refining messaging, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities.

The big loser in all this? Customer Success. Because they have to try and build the vision that sales sold to the customer. And that’s a great way to tank the long-term pipeline and credibility of your organization.

(24:34) Sales saying the leads from marketing suck? Andy advises that you talk with sales reps directly. Ask them – what percentage of leads delivered suck?

Marketing and sales leadership need to agree what “good” and “bad” look like. And then educate the whole team on those definitions.

(28:39) The easiest way to avoid getting bullshit targets? Don’t give them.

Jokes. But also rooted in truth. Because the “pie in the sky” goal you have came from the top (either a VC or leadership), and it’s up to you as a leader to say whether or not you think it’s feasible. You don’t have to make it work just because someone is telling you that you have to make it work – especially if you know it won’t work.

There’s often a disconnect between the people setting the goals and the people doing the work.

Want To Set Proper Goals?

demandDrive CEO Lindsay Frey unpacks her Capacity Planning process to help set accurate and attainable SDR goals.

(34:46) Are organizations focusing less on ‘growth at all costs’ and more on profitability? Andy thinks so. In part because the tech bubble that’s been slowly growing is becoming unsustainably large.

The baton passing has to stop at some point.

(36:59) Dealing with BT’s at your organization? Andy shares a few questions you can ask to help combat them and better work with leadership / VCs.

(38:24) “Silly” catchphrases are a lot more powerful than you think. Really speaks to the value of consistency in branding. Repitition is so important.

“It turned into one of those phrases that I didn’t use for everyone or all the time, because it was like, I needed to be taking care of it a little bit so I wasn’t blowing out ‘attaboy’ to everyone.”

Additional Resources

Looking to Really Shake Up Your SDR Function?

Focus on Ramp, Reward, and Recognition.

Speaking of Lead Gen PhD…

Growth Month is like getting a Harvard MBA in sales & marketing!

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