The tradition has always been to have Marketing and Sales work together as partners. Makes sense right? Marketing is creating the atmosphere and supplying the resources that Sales uses to close deals. Another tradition as old as time, has been to set up Marketing and Finance as opponents.
But are we really on opposite sides? Not even close! Recently on a cloudy Seattle morning, Allocadia and Heinz Marketing hosted a fireside chat with the goal of encouraging these departments to work together. Brian Hansford of Heinz Marketing moderated the conversation between Chris Pick, CMO at Apptio and Samantha Bannister, VP Finance and Operations at Allocadia. They each spoke to how they’ve worked with their respective Finance or Marketing counterpart to create a strong relationship, which has created a foundation that allows their companies to move faster on decisions they are confident will create impact. If you’re serious about driving impact for the company then it’s time to get serious about your relationship with Finance.
Most of our blogs are from a marketing perspective, but we thought we’d switch it up this time. Ever wanted to know exactly how to talk to Finance to get that “yes”? Here’s your chance!
Tip #1 – Finance is a resource, not the opposition
Finance acts as Marketing’s rearview mirror and their front windshield – they tell you what you’ve done and what to look out for up ahead. But where a lot of the friction is created is through accrual accounting. Marketing may have already committed funds, and Finance hasn’t received the bill yet. Let’s all acknowledge and embrace the fact that Marketing and Finance have different skills sets, but ultimately you’re both working towards a common goal for the company. Reach out to your Finance and Operations teams to keep your steering in check.
Tip #2 – Making a persuasive argument
How can you be persuasive in a zero sum game? Any additional funds Marketing requests, means those are funds that can’t be spent on another department. Take the time to look at the market and show how those additional resources will make an impact. You’ll still need data, we’re talking metrics, percentage of ICP, impact on sales, pipeline – you know the drill. But to really make it sink in, you need to package those metrics the right way. Invest time in understanding the the context of the company, the culture, and aligning your pitch with corporate goals.
Tip #3 – Get Sales in your corner
Wait… isn’t this article about Marketing and Finance alignment? Yes, but having Sales in your corner is a big part of getting that “yes” from Finance. Before you run over to Finance with your slide deck, talk to Sales first. Getting Sales on board with your strategy will mean Finance has one less check to make before saying “yes”.
Tip #4 – The right decisions are easy to make
Marketing and Finance are on the same side: they both want the company to succeed. Another secret? “The right decisions are easy to make,” according to Samantha Bannister. Explain what Marketing needs and the expected impact in the language of business: ROI. This gives Finance the tools to explain their decision-making when Marketing isn’t around. Because while the right decisions are easy to make, Finance needs to be able to justify these decisions to the CEO and board. Making that job easier for them, gets you another step closer to your goal.
Tip #5 – Know the value of your compromises
You can’t always get what you want. Sometimes there’s no way around it and budgets need to be cut. When that happens, be honest with Finance about what you’re willing to give up, your sunk costs, and any variables. Know which programs have the biggest ROI, so you know where to keep investments and where to pull back. Structure your new plan in phases, set benchmarks, and allow for flexibility. Creating a backdoor in your planning makes it a lot easier to get Finance on the hook when funds are tight.
Understand the environment you are in, and work to be part of the solution. The best part is that all of these tips are something you can start doing right now. The partnership between Marketing and Sales isn’t going anywhere (don’t forget tip #3!). But the misalignment – animosity even – between Marketing and Finance needs to end now.