Tips to Align Marketing and Sales

Tips to Align Marketing and Sales

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Video Overview

A cursory web search reveals a raft of statistics pointing to sales teams unhappy with lead quality and marketing teams mystified with unworked leads.

Sales and marketing alignment is an age old problem.

What does this mean?

There’s a huge opportunity for businesses to get ahead of their competition if they’re willing to confront the problem.

And it doesn’t have to be that difficult or complicated.

In this episode of the B2B Rebellion, Karla Rivershaw, Head of Marketing at Turtl, shares some of the key things her team does to ensure marketing and sales are on the same page. Learn:

  • Why working closely with sales when it comes to lead management and follow up is critical to success
  • How to use intent data to understand what companies are researching topics related to your industry
  • Why marketers need to stop focussing on MQLs and start focussing on pipeline contribution and revenue

Bonus Tip: Karla discusses the psychology of content, why contextual images are critical to recall, and how you can use this in your content strategy.


Karla Rivershaw

Karla Rivershaw
Head of Marketing of Turtl

Andy Culligan

Andy Culligan
CMO of Leadfeeder

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Interview Transcript

Andy Culligan: Hey, guys. Welcome back to another B2B Rebellion. Really happy to have with me today Karla Rivershaw from Turtl. Karla, I've been taking a look at your profile. You've got a good, extensive experience, and I've been going back a little bit in time as well and seeing some of the stuff that you've been doing early on in your career.

You also did a bit of work in Ireland as well, which is interesting to see, so close to my heart, let's say, with extensive marketing experience all the way from Thomson Reuters up to now, where you're Head of Marketing in Turtl. So, tell us a little bit about what you guys at Turtl do, and give us a little bit of an introduction on yourself as well.

Karla Rivershaw: Sure. So I'm gonna start with myself. So, yeah, thank you for the introduction. I guess I've been working marketing for just over 10 years now. And to your point, yes, I did have... I think my first internship was in a law firm in Ireland. It's actually... I grew up in Ireland. You might not be able to tell that from my accent, but I did.

And so I was doing a law degree, so I managed to get a law placement in a firm, but very quickly on in my degree, realised that law wasn't really a career that I wanted to take. So, since then, I've been going into marketing, and absolutely love it. It's a really... It's just a fast-paced career to have taken on. There's just always something new to sink your teeth into. And it certainly helps that I'm working for a company like Turtl where I'm extremely passionate about the product that we sell. And so Turtl, just to give you a quick intro to that, we are a content automation tool, and basically, what that means is we are able to create really amazing, interactive, personalised content in a very scalable way.

So, basically, anybody in a business, you don't even need to be a marketer, can produce this really... Just really impressive-looking content without having to have coding skills, design skills. And you're able to measure exactly how people are engaging with that content right away, through to specifically what sections of the content people are reading, so it helps you to, basically, just put better content out there.

AC: So, just on Turtl, I've been doing a little bit of a dig into it. It's definitely something that I'm gotta be taking a look up, by the way, after this, so maybe we'll have a chat off the record afterwards, but it's definitely something interesting that you got to see. And I really enjoy your marketing as well, that... Saying, "I killed the PDF. Forget about the PDF. That's the past. We're the future." It's really... I appreciate the type of marketing that you guys do because it's very much in your face, no bullshit, and making a claim. You guys are really making a claim around that PDF piece. How did you guys come to that? And did it... Was it a tough decision to start really pushing that hard?

KR: I don't think it was too tough a decision, to be honest. I think that we all knew that the PDF was an easy target for us because, ultimately, the PDF was invented in 1993. And it's incredible to me that marketers still use that as their go-to way of publishing reports, white papers, you name it, online when there's absolutely no way to measure how people have engaged with that content. You can't actually see if people have actually read it at all. You can tell someone downloaded it, but that's as far as it goes.

And I don't really know how, as a marketer, you can use that to tell whether or not a piece of content is successful, how you can improve upon that content, for instance. So I think we've had so many people come to us over the years we've been in business, just saying like, "Kill the PDF. It's so outdated. Our content looks so much better in Turtl, and we know whether or not it's performing." And it was just a very natural transition for us then to take a bolder approach and just make a statement like that.

AC: It's super-interesting because you come across marketers that don't even care if the content has been interacted with. Is that... 'Cause I know people and I've been...

KR: Yeah.

AC: So my background is in lead generation, and I could be accused of being that marketer in the past. Now, I'm a more well-rounded marketer in a CMO position, and also, I've been leading marketing teams and looking at it from every different angle. But when I was corely focused on lead generation like, I don't know, almost 10 years ago, I'd be like, "Let's just make sure that they get the thing into their inbox. And I don't care if they read it or not. Give it to the sales team, the sales team follow up with it." Now, it's obviously changed, in that respect, but tell us a little bit about the metrics that you can see from within Turtl and the content that people have in there.

KR: Yeah. So, I definitely can empathise with what you're saying, in terms of where your head was at 10 years ago. And to be honest, so was mine. I think six, seven years ago, it was totally the norm to just get every single piece of content you had. And then as soon as you have it downloaded, you pass that lead on to sales. But that just doesn't really work these days, and the reason it doesn't work is because, one, people are a lot more sensitive these days regarding data. They don't necessarily wanna give you their data immediately, you have to work for it.

And also, the younger the generations... It was a really interesting study done by, I think it was LinkedIn, recently, where they looked at the different generations and how they actually respond to gated content. And it turns out that younger generations are far more likely to just give them the information if they wanna access a piece of content. So, actually, those downloads are really not that valuable if people are just putting in these fake email addresses, and stuff.

So, in terms of the stuff that you can actually track in Turtl, which just gives you so much better insight into people who are reading it, is, one, just very basic: Is somebody reading it at all? And two: Who is that person who's reading it? How long are they reading it for? Which bits are they reading? Which bits aren't they reading? At what point do they bounce off? Do they share the content with anybody else? Do they interact with anything within the content? If it was a video, how long did they watch it for? If there's a poll, how did they respond to that poll?

And suddenly, you have this really rich profile of information around that person, to be able to, one, better tailor your messaging for that specific individual, but secondly, just to get a better sense of your audience overall, and what topics are more interesting than others so you can just optimise your content strategy.

AC: That's really, really interesting stuff. Okay. Well, look, let's get down to the bottom of things here. The reason why we're here today is because...

KR: Sure.

AC: It's to give our audience some key actionable insights or takeaways that you can recommend as a marketer, things that people can maybe go away and implement easily without having to put their hand too deep into their pocket, or to have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to processes, and whatnot. Do you have any tips for marketing and salespeople out there right now?

KR: Sure. I mean, I think probably the first one I'd like to go to, and it's actually the reason that Turtl was founded in the first place, is actually around the psychology of the human brain and how the human brain responds to visual stimulation. And it was actually... There was... Our CEO, this was probably maybe six, seven years ago now, he was working as like a contractor, and he was working on a project in Oxford University, and he happened to be in a room with some researchers there who were discussing this research that they had been reading about, and it was all about how the brain responds to visuals.

And there was this really interesting study where, basically, there was a test group of people and they were asked to read a paragraph of text. And they then went home. I think, three days later, they came back in, and they were asked to kind of recite what they could remember, basically, of that text. And I think that the results were something like 10% of the text they were able to recall.

So, they ran a similar study, and this time, they offered people a piece of text with a contextual image alongside it. And people went home for three days, and when they came back, they were able to remember 65% of what they read. The only difference was there was an image, otherwise, it was the same text, and they were able to remember it 6.5 times better. And this is like so interesting, I think, as marketers, and this is what our CEO was thinking at the time, like, "Wow, if you can just make small changes like that and people are able to remember your content better, this is gold dust for marketers."

So he started to think like, "How could I apply that and make it as easy as possible for marketers to produce content that speaks to the human brain?" So I think thinking about the psychology behind how people consume information, how they retain information is really, really important. So, imagery is really, really key, and making sure that you use imagery... I mean, it has to make sense, the imagery, of course, but using imagery to really bring your content to life is super-important.

Another thing is around the layout of the content. So, there's been a lot of research that's been done into how we like to... What the format needs to look like, in terms of the content that we consume. So, if you look at things like newspapers, for instance, the format of their content has basically been the same for the last 400 years. It hasn't changed at all. And there is a reason for that.

So, when you open a newspaper, you'll have like big image at the top, you have your headline and then you have the text below it. And, generally, what you'll find is like when people are reading a newspaper or a magazine, you're not necessarily gonna read it from cover to cover. You're gonna flick through, you'll find a heading that looks interesting, with an appealing image, and then you'll read that.

And that's just generally how the human brain likes to consume information. And this is the problem with formats like PDF, for instance, where it doesn't work like that. It's a very static document, where you have to scroll down, scroll down, scroll down, and what happens, unfortunately, due to this layout, is that your brain switches from being in an active state to a passive state, and your brain just switches off, and it just... You cannot consume any more information. And there's an interesting reason for why that happens, and it's because we have... Similar, I guess, to a computer with RAM, there's only so much memory that we have available at any one time.

And so, once that RAM in our brain fills up, working memory, you just... Your brain just stops, it cannot consume any more information. So, actually the act of turning a page, whether it's reading a book, a newspaper or a magazine, it actually allows your working memory to partially reset so that you can then carry on reading. And that's why we're able to read novels, and things like that, because turning that page just allows our brain to reset.

So the reason I'm saying this is that there is so much that can be done when you're thinking about the content you're producing to make it far more engaging to that primitive brain, because I think we often, when we're producing content, we think about these things in a more logical way.

Actually, we tend to be quite emotional creatures, and so, when we're producing content, you need to be speaking to a sort of more emotional part of the brain. And so, keeping in mind some of these basic psychological principles when you're producing content is really, really important if you wanna maximize on how much people remember and generally how long people engage for. So that would be my first tip.

AC: That's actually... That's really good advice, and I've never heard it explained that way, and I've never thought about it that way, and it makes sense. It's something that I'll be certainly taking away myself and providing this over to our content team here at Leadfeeder as well. It's super-interesting, and even I was thinking there, when you were saying that, where can I find examples of that?

I've actually... And this doesn't mean to be a plug for Turtl, but I've looked at your homepage, I've looked at the examples that you have, which different companies you've worked with, and they all follow those sort of design principles that you just mentioned there, around the folding of the page or turning the page, and different bits. And actually, when I was looking at it, just prior to this call, I was like, "Oh, okay, yeah." The thing was I wasn't used to seeing a page turn that way, or when browsing online to go to click to the right rather than scroll down... I was actually trying to scroll down 'cause my brain was like, "Okay, I need to scroll down since this is obviously like a PDF." So, PDF has like almost tried to rewire our brains, but it was a nicer experience for me to be able to see that page turn like that, and I just connected the dots. Now that you say it, it's super-creepy.

KR: Good. Good.

AC: But it still makes perfect sense. It does make perfect sense, so that is interesting, super-interesting. Okay. Okay. So, let's get to your second point then.

KR: Yeah. So, second point then I think is just really, as a marketer, I think working really closely... This is obvious, right? Working really closely with your sales team, but I think particularly when it comes to lead management. And I know that this is a really big struggle for most marketers out there, "Are my leads actually being followed up?" And one of the experiments that we've been running at Turtl, this here has been a bit of a pet project for me, which is why I'm mentioning it today, is making sure that your marketing leads get as much attention as outbound leads, because it was a realization, I think maybe halfway, could be a bit sooner than that, at some point during the year, I just realized, "Oh my God, you know, our SDR team are focusing pretty much all of their time on outbound, and my marketing leads are just sitting there in a queue, and nothing is happening."

And so I have put in a process now where, first of all, there's a lot more visibility around marketing leads, so I could see exactly which ones are... Just haven't been touched, which ones have... Are so-called being qualified, actually, are they being qualified? What's the kind of level of qualification that's going on? And then just seeing what the conversions look like. And so I know you were kinda looking for quick and easy tips. I'm not sure that this is a quick one, but it is something which I think is absolutely vital to every marketer to make sure they nail this down.

So, basically, the process I've put in place is I've got this dashboard, I meet with our head of the SDR team, normally once a day, sometimes every other day, just to very quickly review the dashboard. We have a quick look to see how many new leads are sitting with this team. Does anyone need to be like chased to make sure... Follow up on them. We have a look at any of the leads that are being qualified out. Are they being qualified out correctly?

We'll have a quick look to see the ones that are being qualified, what kind of messaging is going out. And generally, on a weekly basis, I will just listen in to any phone calls that are being made, so we record all the calls that are being done, just to make sure that, for meetings that are booked, at least, I'm listening to just make sure that the right messaging is being used, offer advice to the SDR team, just say, "I'd suggest that we maybe sort of say something about this," if I think it's appropriate.

And more recently, one of the things that we've done, which we're still in the process of testing, is actually having somebody dedicated to follow up on marketing leads and working with them really closely to just make sure they have the right emails going out, the right pieces of content, and that they really, really understand the different marketing activities that we're doing, and how to follow up correctly, because one of the things I realised is that we do so much activity at Turtl, and it is really, really tricky, I think, for SDRs to just stay on top of all of that, and to know this lead is actually from this webinar where we spoke about these things.

And so actually just breaking that down for them and making it really, really easy for them to know what's the right thing to say. And so having this dedicated person, it really, really helps because they don't have outbound stuff to distract them, and that they can focus a lot more closely on specifically what we're doing in marketing, and where these leads came from. So, that would be my next tip.

AC: I couldn't agree with you more. By the way, this is something that I specialise in. This is... I come from an SDR background. I was an SDR. And then I went back and I studied marketing, then went into marketing. And that's a long time ago now, since I was an SDR, but it's a tricky thing, right? I remember when I first came to lead generation, I got really pissed off because I was like, "I'm doing all this work but the sales team are just ignoring what I'm giving them," right? Which is... I think a lot of marketers have that feeling, right? Or if they don't have that feeling, it's because they don't care what's happening after they hand over...

KR: Yes.

AC: Because it's happening every single... Every single organisation has dropout in the formal, or a leaky formal there between sales and marketing, right? It's a tough thing to try to do, but meeting with the SDR leadership once a day is amazing, that's the best thing you can be doing. One of the things I'd ask marketers, typically, would be like how often you speak with your sales guys and girls, or ladies, whatever, how often are you speaking with the guys there. And they would say, "Well, every now and then." I'll say, "Oh. Well, define what every now and then is.""Well, we met each other at the last company summit, or whatever it was, when we had a meetup."

And that was like six months ago. So, everybody's working in their own silos, and the sales team, regardless of how you wanna feel about it from a marketer, and so marketers get a little bit edgy or fragile around this specific piece, but at the end of the day, the sales team or the SDR team are your customer, as a marketer. You should be delivering something to them which they can then turn into business then later on.

And if you're not caring about what your customer is doing or what your customer thinks or how your customer feels, then you're doing something wrong. And people... As a marketer, it's sometimes hard to swallow that pill because sales demand a lot, and they're not always right when it comes to marketing, and so on, but you still need to get the information to find them and try to action it somehow, right? But it's... That's super advice. That's really, really good advice.

KR: Yeah, I totally agree with what you said there, and I think one of the challenges marketers face, and maybe why they don't care so much about what happens to the leads after they lop them over the fence, is it's just the way that businesses are measuring marketing. So, if you're being measured on the number of MQLs you generate, then why on earth would you care if those MQLs are quality or not? Like whatever, just pass them over. We've ticked that box.

Whereas, actually, if you're being measured on the conversion of those MQLs, your contribution to pipeline, those kinds of things, that's when you start to really care about whether or not these leads are actually converting.

AC: For sure. My target is revenue, so that's the target that I set for my team as well, revenue. And then they build out whatever KPIs we need to get to there, but bottom line, when I'm presenting to the board, it's like, how much revenue is marketing delivering?

KR: Yup, yup, that makes sense.

AC: Okay. So I think we have time for one more.

KR: Yeah, I have one tiny last one, but this is my absolute favourite thing right now. And honestly, anybody I speak to hears me talk about this. And maybe that somebody watches this and goes, "I'm sure I've heard her talk about this before," because I just love it. So, we have just invested in a tool called Bombora, which, for those who don't know, is, I think an intent data tool.

And the reason I'm so excited about this tool is that it basically allows us to be able to track which companies are currently researching topics that align to our business, and what we are able to offer them. So, for instance, for us at Turtl, we might be interested in people who are currently researching content personalisation or account-based marketing or sales enablement, or anything like that, and we'll be able to get a list of all the companies that fit our profile, so, industry, size, all of those things, and see specifically which companies are actively researching, at this very moment, those topics.

And the really nice thing about Bombora, yes, we've just purchased it, but you can actually sign up for free weekly alerts with them. So, if you go to the website, you can sort of select your keywords, you can define what your profile looks like. And then, once a week, you've got an email with I think it's like 10 companies that kind of fit that criteria that you've set up.

And what I was doing, as I was sort of building the case for whether or not to invest in Bombora, was actually looking at this list and identifying maybe a few accounts on that list that I thought might be worth our while getting an SDR person to follow up with, and then I would share them with somebody on our SDR team. We managed to book like quite a few meetings, off the back of just this free data that we were getting from Bombora, and it's absolutely fantastic. So, it's really good if you don't have the budget but you wanna test it out, try it, but it's also really good for a company to build its case for implementing that.

And now that we actually have the tool in place, some of the really cool things we can do is, first of all, for our account-based marketing strategy, it's really good for understanding what are the things that these accounts we're focused on are actually actively researching, so we can align our messaging to those interests.

We can also select accounts using this data, so we'll know, okay, these ones are focused specifically on areas we're interested in, so these would be good key accounts to, you know, spend time and resource on. But also, there's this integration with LinkedIn. So, for instance, I could set up a campaign in LinkedIn, I don't know, maybe, for instance, pushing a guide that we've created on ABM, and we can just target that ad only at accounts that we know are actively researching ABM right now.

And the really cool thing is that Bombora will just automatically send those accounts to LinkedIn, so it's like an always-on campaign. And we don't really need to do anything. Once we've set the campaign to go live, that's it. So, yeah, I'm really excited about that.

AC: That's amazing. It's really good advice. And Bombora's a great tool. I know Bombora. We actually have some customers of ours at Leadfeeder here that use a mix of Bombora for their third party intents, and then Leadfeeder for their first party intents. So, third party is what's happening outside your own four walls of your website...

KR: Exactly.

AC: And then first party is everything that's happening on your own side. So they use a mix of what you just mentioned there for their account-based marketing, like understanding what's happening on those accounts, what their search intent is, what are they interested in? What are they looking at?

And then also, if they end up on your site without converting, you're looking at all of the different information that they've looked at. What are the search terms that brought them there and everything? You get that from Leadfeeder. So it's like the mix of both of those tools together provide some great insights. It's really good, really good advice.

KR: Nice. Very good.

AC: Perfect. So, Karla, just before we finish up, where can people find you? And where can people find Turtl?

KR: So, you can find me on LinkedIn. I'm very active on there, so feel free to drop me a little connection invite, and just let me know where you're from, 'cause I don't accept everybody, because I'm always afraid that salespeople are just trying to sell to me. So please let me know why you wanna connect. And Turtl, you can find us on... At

AC: Perfect. Karla, thank you so much. It's been a real pleasure speaking with you. I wish you all the best for Q4.

KR: Thank you, and you too.

AC: Hope you guys smash again, like you did in Q3.

KR: Alright. Thanks, Andy.

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