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Insight from Experts: The Relationship Between Sales and Marketing with Joe Chernov

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Author: Mark Nardone, Chief Marketing Officer at PAN Communications, headshot
Mark NardoneChief Marketing Officer

Mark Nardone, EVP at PAN Communications speaks with Joe Chernov who is VP of Marketing at InsightSquared. Listen to the podcast or read the transcript below as they discuss the relationship between sales and marketing.


Mark Nardone, EVP of PAN Communications, Introduction and Welcome

We have the pleasure of sitting down right now and talking with Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at InsightSquared and content over at HubSpot. Joe, appreciate you diving into a very interesting topic, or a wide variety of topics.

Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at InsightSquared

Thanks for having me. It’s good to see you again.

Mark Nardone (MN), Overview

I thought maybe we could look at four different subjects and move through each of them in specific stages – one being the relationship between sales and marketing. Now more than ever, it’s at that really cool intersection, so we’ll get a little bit into that. I thought maybe then we can move into the importance of what the stack looks like right now. You’re probably one of the most prominent inbound marketing experts out there, along with content, so I think we can move to inbound and hone into metrics, because that’s the ever-evolving question and top of mind for marketers. Then, I want to close with what it all looks like in another year. You have a really cool insight, no pun intended, into what’s happening in the future, so I thought we can dive into that. Sound good?

Joe Chernov (JC)

Sounds good.

MN, The Relationship Between Sales and Marketing: So, let’s talk a little bit about the relationship between sales and marketing. I know ABM, you’ve been writing a lot about that and talking a lot about it. It seems to have brought those two together a little bit more. But what’s the effect that you’re seeing right now? Is it positive, neutral, or is it still maybe a little bit of finger pointing here and there? What does it all look like in your view?


Well, that’s an hour talk in it of itself. I think in the marketing automation era, the demand gen era, of which content and inbound play a role, it is important for sales and marketing to be aligned because sales is ultimately accountable to selling to whomever it is that marketing happens to have sourced through their demand gen approach. So, at the very least, marketing needs to be attempting to source the kinds of leads that sales want to sell to them. In an ABM world, that alignment moves from important to essential. It simply won’t work without the two sides together. While I was sitting here waiting for this call, behind me on the board was a collaborative effort from sales and marketing, identifying ideal customer profile, getting really granular and really specific. Not just one group does it and hands it over to the next – both groups sit around the table and collaborate on it with stakeholders from finance and operations. It needs to be collaborative because together, marketing and sales are working the same accounts, at the same time. So, it’s no longer just nice to have or important to have – it won’t work without it.


You talk a lot about more of that frontline approach – making sure that if marketing is not speaking to the individuals that are on the front lines, whether it’s at an early stage of funnel or journey activity, middle or out and looking at advocacy – how important it is to make sure you’ve got that right positioning, personalization and connection with sales? Are you feeling that’s happening well right now in your previous engagements at HubSpot running content?


I’ve been gone from Hubspot for a couple of years, so I’m sure that company has evolved since I’ve been there. When I was there, what they did extremely well is they had a very persona-driven approach to marketing. They did a heck of a job fleshing out persona that, though they were described on paper, really came to life as a real person. Sales and marketing could always refer back to that archetype when trying to work through a particular campaign or challenge. At InsightSquared, we are less built around own persona; we’re more built around operational principles. When sales and marketing collaborate here, it’s much more sales and marketing collaborating on process. For instance, these are the X number of accounts that sales will work over a wide period of time, and they’re going to stagger them over Z intervals, and marketing will enter the picture at “this” stage and exit the picture at “that” stage. Then it’s all mapped out in Salesforce and the two groups will run an orchestrated play together. The end result is the same. In both companies, sales and marketing have a particularly healthy relationship; we’ve just gone about it in different ways. The way I really look at it is, I took some ski lessons for a while and the coach said, “If you’re a good skier, you should be able to lose one ski on the run and not realize it until you get to the bottom of the trail.” That’s what a good skier does and that’s completely inconceivable to me. But, the parallel here is if we were really doing it right, if the head of sales took off for a month, I should be able to do his job. And if I took off for a month, he should be able to do my job. The team shouldn’t know the difference until they get to the bottom of the trail. It should be effectively the same. We’re not quite there, but I think that’s the ultimate aspiration.


An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.