I spoke this morning to a private equity (PE) firm’s gathering of portfolio company CEOs, CROs, and CMOs. Our topic, one of my favorites, was how to get sales and marketing working together to drive business results. While I talked about the predictable subject of alignment, I covered it with an interesting three-level angle (philosophical, strategic, operational). I prefaced the alignment discussion with examples of what typically goes wrong in the sales/marketing relationship, later revealing that I believe most of the commonly-observed “problems” between sales and marketing are, in fact, symptoms of four underlying problems:
I’m Dave Kellogg, advisor, director, consultant, angel investor, and blogger focused on enterprise software startups. I am an executive-in-residence (EIR) at Balderton Capital and principal of my own eponymous consulting business.
I bring an uncommon perspective to startup challenges having 10 years’ experience at each of the CEO, CMO, and independent director levels across 10+ companies ranging in size from zero to over $1B in revenues.
From 2012 to 2018, I was CEO of cloud EPM vendor Host Analytics, where we quintupled ARR while halving customer acquisition costs in a competitive market, ultimately selling the company in a private equity transaction.
Previously, I was SVP/GM of the $500M Service Cloud business at Salesforce; CEO of NoSQL database provider MarkLogic, which we grew from zero to $80M over 6 years; and CMO at Business Objects for nearly a decade as we grew from $30M to over $1B in revenues. I started my career in technical and product marketing positions at Ingres and Versant.
I love disruption, startups, and Silicon Valley and have had the pleasure of working in varied capacities with companies including Bluecore, FloQast, GainSight, Hex, MongoDB, Pigment, Recorded Future, and Tableau.
I currently serve on the boards of Cyber Guru (cybersecurity training), Jiminny (conversation intelligence), and Scoro (work management).
I previously served on the boards of Alation (data intelligence), Aster Data (big data), Granular (agtech), Nuxeo (content services), Profisee (MDM), and SMA Technologies (workload automation).
I periodically speak to strategy and entrepreneurship classes at the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley) and Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris (HEC).
Hi Dave, this is thought-provoking in different ways. In your slide for the function-led company whether it is product-led or sales-led, or people/narrative-led… at what stage companies figure out this function?
I see many founders have an average product gaining traction because they are sales-led (founders being in sales or marketing background plays a role), but they cannot sustain it because the product culture and product experience is not the focus. How easy it is for them to change the internal narrative from sales-led to product-led?
PS: I see Tomasz Tunguz too writing his latest post on the same alignment: https://tomtunguz.com/sales-marketing-slope-connected/
My argument is primarily that it’s dangerous to me anything but strategy-led. I’d say typical startups are either product-led or sales-led. Sometimes engineering-led. Usually it reflects the background of the founder so it’s not something you figure out, per se, it’s something that just happens. My belief is, if you’re typical, you’re product-led and the answer is NOT to become sales-led but to strategy-led. Yep, saw Tomasz’s stuff. Great minds :-)
Very nice article! I enjoyed a lot Reading it. Thanks for sharing.
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