Marketers Are Friends, Not Food
How Kate Erwin, Head of Content at Contractbook, breaks bread with her sales counterparts to support company growth.
Name: Kate Erwin
What She Does: Kate is a “content-obsessed, community-oriented connector.” She harnesses all of that energy into her job as the Head of Content at Contractbook.
How to Connect: Kate’s LinkedIn
Marketing gets a bad rap in the world of SaaS sales. They’re looked at as the “fluff” behind the real work – sales.
And clips like this help support that idea (as satirical as they are).
And as fun as it is to belittle marketing, their jobs can make the lives of their sales counterparts much, much easier.
From creating personalized content to running large-scale events, marketing has the opportunity to support and enable reps in a way that others can’t.
Our guest, Kate Erwin, has made that her mission as a marketer. She constantly asks a simple, but powerful, question to help strengthen the relationship she has with her sales team:
“How can I support you?”
Kate sat down with us to share more about her mindset as a marketer, how she fosters alignment at her company, and what you (yes, you!) can do to start bridging the gap between these departments at your own company.
Sales and marketing teams work best when they collaborate, not when they work “for” one another. You have a pretty “lean but mean” team right now – how are you working with sales to build up a solid relationship?
One of the reasons for a strained relationship is that marketers often have a lot more freedom than sales. They aren’t tied to a quota like sales reps are. And that shows when a lot of campaigns are long-term wins, not short-term ones.
Sales can feel “let down” in a way. How do you approach that?
Maintaining the relationship is often an overlooked part of alignment – one or two good sessions aren’t enough to have a good working relationship. How are you reinforcing and maintaining that relationship?
A question teams don’t ask enough: “How can we support you?” Really cementing the idea that both teams are there for each other’s benefit. What are some situations or examples where sales leans on marketing (and vice versa) that can help paint a picture of what “good” looks like?
Back to the idea of “lean and mean,” you said in our prep call that one of the best things a small marketing team can do is partner with other small marketing teams. Why is that and what benefits can you see from that?
Top 3 Takeaways
🙏 So as the head of content, I sort of…do all things content, whether that’s sales enablement materials or, you know, social selling training for our team.
…and I’m always looking for new ways to connect with people, build awareness, and basically make things easier for our sales team.
Marketers have always carried this “fluffy” stigma – that the work they do is just a precursor to the real work of the sales team.
And while it’s true that sales and marketing are often held to different goals and standards, it’s also true that the best sales teams are tightly aligned with and rely on their marketing counterparts.
How you can do that: Have a regular meeting – Kate does it monthly, but you can do it weekly if need be – where the department heads meet up and talk about what they need from each other. Sometimes it’s asset creation, sometimes it’s message refinement, and sometimes it’s supporting larger company initiatives. Whatever it is, the important thing is consistent and transparent communication.
And just all aligning on things like what you’re talking about, what content is coming out, who you’re targeting, who you’re talking to…and making sure that you’re all in alignment.
It sounds easy in theory, but Kate has seen it be much more difficult in practice. Alignment takes serious commitment from all parties.
🎯 We’re marketing to their target accounts. Like that’s a big, big deal. Or for example, they have their target account list and I do things like figure out who we’re going to interview in our next webinar or things like that. I just use that target account list because making friends with our prospects is a great way to strengthen that relationship.
The best sales organizations play the long game. And having a marketing team to back you up on that makes doing that much easier.
A lot of sales reps build their own “nurture cadence” for top target accounts. They send relevant content and advice over an extended period of time, building up trust and recognition along the way. That way, when the timing is right, prospects are more likely to reach back out or agree to a meeting.
Carving out that space in your prospect’s brain becomes a whole lot easier when you have a marketing team backing you up. Whether it’s inviting prospects on a webinar/podcast, running tailored events, or creating personalized content, marketing can help amplify those sales touches and build that trust/credibility.
🌊 Your reach gets pushed to people that normally you wouldn’t be talking with. You’re dipping into pools that sales hasn’t even tried before, and these people are seeing your content.
You’re once again kind of carving out more space in their brain for your name and brand so that when sales does dip into those pools, you have some familiarity. You’re not just kind of sending them in blind and being like, yeah, good luck guys.
The experimental nature of marketing is a blessing and a curse. It’s partly why a lot of marketing teams get the “fluffy” stigma – they’re creating content for unknown audiences and the KPIs are a lot less tangible than something like closed-won revenue.
But on the other side of that coin, those experiments can make breaking into new industries or verticals much easier for your sales team.
💡 When marketing is able to increase brand recognition, sales can adopt strategies like the one Armand Farrokh popularized. Asking prospects if you’ve “heard our name tossed around” holds more weight if marketing has paved the way a bit.
🎁 And a lot of the time…it sounds really cheesy…sometimes sales will be like, hey, you have any good gifts or you have any good memes? It sounds so goofy. But they don’t have time for that. And if I can be the frivolous one who gets to do that, but then that actually supports them and helps them create connections with prospects, then that’s great.
I seem to recall another sales and marketing alignment episode we recorded that focused on memes…🤔 (hint, it’s the podcast with Pickle ⬆️)
As fluffy and goofy as it seems, Kate brings up a great point. The less sales has to focus on minute details, the more they can focus on actually executing – their cadence, their discovery call, or their demo. Taking little things off their plate can compound quickly, and that helps form a strong foundation for ongoing relationships.
🚓 I think Sales a lot of the time need to feel like they’re in control of what they’re using. They don’t want the marketing police to come and say, oh, you must use this, this, and this. If it’s not going to work for them, then they shouldn’t have to use it.
Alignment means that no team works in a vacuum. If they did, then marketing could be creating content that sales doesn’t find useful. And that’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Setting up feedback loops between all revenue-generating departments can help mitigate that, but the true desired outcome is when sales themself is involved in the content creation process. Their perspective is necessary for marketing to create something relevant and helpful, and by having a hand in the creation process sales will know exactly how to use the content to their advantage.
Hey there! AJ here 👋
I might be wildly biased, but I love Kate’s take on the sales <> marketing relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, I love poking fun at marketing as much as the next person. Corporate Bro and other sales personalities make funny stuff, even to someone in marketing like myself (and, as much as he denies it, like Corp).
But at a certain point, you have to pull back the satirical curtain.
When sales and marketing work together, magical things can happen:
Sales has an easier job breaking into new industries and accounts that marketing has “warmed up.”
Sales reps can support their value props with tailored content, not just generic information.
Marketing can create better and more relevant content based on the “customer voice” information that sales is capturing.
And it can all start by asking a simple question: “How can I support you?”
Give it a shot – it can’t hurt!