How I Integrated Sales and Marketing Using Hamilton Lyrics

Stephanie Casstevens joined us as the Marketing Manager at Label Insight, the Chicago-based SaaS company that provides insights on food label data to government, retailers, manufacturers and app developers. She is now Director of Audience Engagement & Community at IMPACT.

Read on for a transcript of her presentation from our January 16, 2018 Here’s How Startup Marketing Conference, where she describes how she integrated sales and marketing using lyrics from the musical Hamilton.

Good morning everybody. Raise your hand if you’ve seen Hamilton or at least have listened to the soundtrack. Okay, for those of you that don't have your hand raised, I don't know what you're doing here; you should clearly be there. Regardless, whether you've seen it or not, I think you'll appreciate these lessons. If you haven't seen it, you might not get my cheesy references, but if you have seen it, hopefully these will be things that you can be reminded of often if you're like me and binge listen to the soundtrack all the time.

Before I dive in I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I'm pretty well-versed in HubSpot – I’ve been using it for about six years, have 10 certifications and lead our local Chicago HubSpot user group. I don't know how many of you use HubSpot or have heard of it but it was originally a marketing automation software. Now it also has a web CMS and a sales tool and is building out a customer success feature. So it's really taking what used to be inbound marketing and shifting it to be the way your entire business runs. That's important because part of my lessons relate to how we're transforming the way we market, sell and do customer success in service because we need to match the way the world buys and sells now. I also volunteer on the marketing team for Digital Megaphone and I'm on the board for the Digital Innovator Summit. If you haven't heard of those things, they're also great tech events in Chicago and you should check them out.

But the biggest thing you need to know is that I’m the Marketing Manager at Label Insight. We're a company that’s increasing transparency by helping consumers better understand the products that they use and consume. What we essentially do is take product data, digitize it and push out a whole bunch of other information based on what we know to help brands and retailers communicate more about the products to consumers. Think about searching online on an E-commerce site or a store for products that fit your dietary preferences.

All right, on to Hamilton. Like I said, the way we buy and sell things has changed. We know it's changed over the past decade, maybe even over the past few months – thank you, Amazon. I don't know about you but as a marketer or a person in the digital and tech world, I've really felt the pressure. I also know that we have to change the way we do business, like I said, to match the way people buy and sell things now. Marketers have heard this was happening for a while. We've all gone to marketing events like this and all sorts of sales and tech conferences, yet 42 percent of sales professionals say that marketing doesn't understand their customers. So there's some sort of fundamental breakdown here, some source of friction, and I know what you're thinking...If you're anything like me, you're thinking, "Ugh! The sales people. They’re obviously the problem." I felt like that for a long time. Then I realized that sales people were never invited to the party in the first place. I got to attend these awesome conferences that had bands and we all nerded out together and there were thousands of marketers all coming together to be like, "Yeah! Things are different and we have to provide answers and content," and we came back all jazzed and ready to go. And maybe we got some internal buy-in from our CEOs or higher-ups, but the sales people weren't really invited to that. Instead, we came back and we just told them what to do. Surprise: salespeople don't love being told what to do, I don't know if you knew that but I learned the hard way, so I had to invite my salespeople to the party.

So here's how I used lessons from Hamilton to integrate our sales and marketing teams. They'll reference the song lyrics, and if you follow them I promise you will build a legacy just like Hamilton did, except don't die at the end.

1.  I Taught Them “How to Say Goodbye.”

You have to teach your sales team how to say goodbye to the old way of doing things. You have to teach them to phase out the legacy tactics and phase in the new tactics that work. And I say “teach” because I have tried asking, telling, begging, fighting and one time crying, so let's just try teaching. To be the best teachers you can for your sales team, you have to do a couple of things.

You have to go in with an open mind. I sat down with each of my sales people individually and I said, "Tell me about your challenges. Tell me about what you struggle with day to day. Where do you feel like you're wasting time? Where do you feel like you're getting caught up in the minutiae of daily tasks and not really focusing on selling?" If you get what I'm saying, "Talk less, smile more." Channel your inner Hamilton and listen to your salespeople and actually take that into consideration. Listen to what they have to say and think about how you can solve these problems with the tools and the skills that you have and empower them to be better salespeople by solving their problems or at least connecting them to the new way of doing things. So I sat down with each individual salesperson and took notes and made sure I knew exactly what problems they needed tackled.

Then – this is the most successful thing I've learned in aligning my sales and marketing teams – was the "inbound offsite." I call it that because of the Inbound conference, I don't know how many of you've been but it's a big event hosted by HubSpot out of Boston every year with about 25,000 people. I go every year and always learn a ton. That was a big key piece that was missing from my sales team – they didn't get invited to something like that. So I made it happen here. I actually rented a room over here in Tech Nexus and got food, you can always get people involved if you bring cookies. We sat down for four hours and I told them the story of Inbound and why I'm so passionate about this new way of doing things. I gave them examples of how the way buying and selling has changed and really got them to understand where I was coming from, and then, I made PowerPoint slides that had bullets for each of those individual places where my sales team said they were struggling.

I told them, "These are the things that we're gonna tackle today." I wanted it to resonate with them in their words. I wanted it to be their problems up on the screen, not my tools, my solutions or my way of doing things, but their problems that we were going to solve. We spent the next couple of hours diving into each one of those problems that if one salesperson had, they probably all had, whether they said so or not. And from that, I aligned our tools and our solutions to solve those problems. I promise you, whatever the problem is, you can probably align it to something you, as a marketer, know. Whether it's being more efficient with your content or using tools to speed up the process, you can align those challenges to your solutions. So, teach them how to say goodbye. Plan a couple of hours off site, out of your office; bring food; and align it with their problems to teach them this new way of doing things.

2.  I Was in the “Room Where it Happened.”

I physically got up and moved my desk over to be by my sales team. The sales team was behind me. There were four or five desks over by the windows and I was sitting over by the marketing team, all in my own little bubble. We were talking in our bubble and they were talking in theirs, and it just wasn't conducive to a cooperative environment, so I moved my desk. And I promise you, you will learn so much by sitting in the middle of your sales team. You're going to piss them off at first, and that's fine, they'll get over it because they'll eventually find you to be a helpful resource. It'll be so exciting for them to be using a new tool, feeling efficient, then get stuck and be like, "Hey, Steph, I have a question,” and you're right there next to them.

In addition to being right there next to them, I started attending the weekly sales meetings. I didn't attend them by saying, "Hey, I want to come to the sales meetings weekly and give a marketing update or share something." I just said, "Hey, can I come to the weekly sales meetings and just listen? I'm not going to critique, I'm not going to judge, I'm not going to tell you how to do anything, I just want to learn about how you're doing what you're doing." And by being in that room, it shows that you care and that you're invested in what the sales team is doing. When they saw that I was there and just listening, for me, someone who talks all the time, it actually meant a lot to them. They were then more open to hearing my suggestions and taking my help because I had listened to their problems, and that's a big deal for salespeople, understandably, it's a big deal for everyone to have someone really listen and be invested in their problems.

So you move your desk, you attend the weekly sales meetings, you're in the room where it happens and when that happens, when a deal closes, it should never be about a salesperson jumping up, ringing the gong and taking credit for the sale. It should be about a marketer and a salesperson standing up and having a big high five and saying, "We did it,” which is easy because you sit near each other now.

3.  I Was the “Right-Hand Man.”

I think of sales as my number-one customer. I see myself as an agency for our sales team and anything I can do to support them and help them be successful as my client, as my customer, is going to help me and our business be successful. Like I said before, I aligned our solutions and tools to solve the salespeople's biggest struggles and challenges. In addition to that, I wanted to empower them with content for every stage of the buyer's journey. As marketers, we're constantly creating content. We're always aligning it to our buyer's journey, putting it in the right spots on our website and creating places for people to convert, but we're not usually empowering our salespeople to use that content. I made a resources page and I know I emailed it to my salespeople and said, "You should use this, it's there." I didn't really empower them to use it, I just passively made it available.

In being their right-hand man, I wanted to do everything I could to make me their first go-to resource. So I did things like create pre-written email copy that talked about our research study and gave it to them in an easy-to-reference area where I said, "Hey, if you're talking to someone about this, or if someone asks these three common questions, this is a great way to respond. You can customize the email to sound like it's from you, change it up to be like your voice, but here's the key points, here's a link to where they can download the study, and it's all in this document, you can keep it open at all times, you can reference it easily." When I started giving them easy, accessible ways to use our content and said, "It's right here and these are the times that you should use it, and here's how you should use it," they started using it. They didn't have to go to the website and hunt it down on their own. Find the situation, because if you expect someone to start doing something out of the normal way they're doing their job but you don't empower them to really do it, they'll just keep doing things the way they've always been doing them. As the right-hand man, I made sure that I was a resource, a tool.

4.  I Did Not Assume I Was the Smartest in the Room.

I love this reference in Hamilton because Hamilton is talking to Burr and he's saying, "I know I'm abrasive and that you're incredible in court, you're succinct, you’re persuasive, etc.” He knows that Burr, in this instance, is better than him. One of my lessons where this hit home for me at Label Insight was when we were working on something for an update to the nutrition facts panel, which hasn't been updated since the early '90s. It was being updated by the industry and I thought, “I don't know anything about this, I was born in the early '90s, I clearly had no idea what was going on.”

There are subject matter experts in my company – not salespeople, but true subject matter experts who know everything there is to know about the nutrition facts panel. It actually blows my mind how much they know. So I sat down with them and I asked to work together to create some content for our salespeople to really be able to nail this and be able to understand where our customers are coming from when they need help with this update to minutiae in some facts panel. We created some content but what I realized is that if we made a video, one, we'd have a video and step in the right direction for 2017 at the time, and two, I didn't have to take notes. I could have the video camera recording my notes for me, and I could have a real conversation with the subject matter expert. These people are typically not that excited about writing a blog or answering my long email full of questions, but they're willing to sit down over coffee and have a conversation.

So I set up a camera and I said, "Hey, I'm not going to put this on our website. I'm not going to use it for anything without your permission unless it turns out great and you like it, which it might, and I'm not going to show it to anyone. I'm just going to use it for notes so that I don't have to take notes and I can talk to you face to face." And it worked really well because we could have this conversation and I could reference the video and knew exactly what they said. I didn't wonder if I took the notes wrong or had to go back to them with questions because I had the video and I could watch it as many times as I wanted.

Inevitably, a lot of them turned out great. We had a 30-second, a minute, sometimes even five-minute clips we could pull out of a video with our subject matter experts and actually use in our content. They got excited about it because they had helped create it and provide value. Then, when our sales team saw that we were working internally with our subject matter experts, that we were collaborating with other people in our organization, everyone got excited because everyone was invested in this thing we were building together. We were creating content for our consumers. We were making it available for our sales people and teaching them how to use it. It was just a good time for everyone to come work together and start seeing this different way that we can do things.

The Results

I like to say we fight up close, seize the moment and stay in it, another Hamilton reference for you. We fight up close because marketers have the luxury of sending emails to thousands of people. We can blast them out and hope that 20 percent of people will open them. Salespeople don't have that luxury. They send one email and wait for someone to open it. I don't know about you, but I hold my breath when I send an email to thousands of people just hoping I don't have a typo. But sending it to one? That person's going notice. So I've enabled them with some tools like email tracking so they can see when someone opens their email. I've enabled them with these templates to quickly and easily answer questions and reference our content. It allows us to fight up close in a one-to-one situation, seize the moment and really be able to answer questions with great content. It also allows us to be aligned, to stay in it and bring me and our subject matter experts together whenever we need to collaborate to get the deal closed.

So we're an aligned team now who fights as one united front. We attend the weekly sales meetings and we talk about marketing and sales together. We sit near each other and high-five when deals are closed. We fail together, we learn together, we celebrate together. I got to ring the gong once. It was a great time. I think my really pivotal moment in this was that I had been to a conference and heard a friend of mine speak and he talked about an email that a client of his had sent him from one of their salespeople. The marketers had been working with the sales team and the sales team sent an email and it said something to the effect of, "Thank you so much. You empowered us, you made us so great, I'm so happy." I was like, "I'm never going to get an email like that from my sales team.”

And sure enough, I'm actually going to pull out my phone and read it to you, I got an email from our sales person, Rich, and it said, "If I didn't say it before, thank you for your time helping me, and more importantly, for the stellar work you're doing on our outreach. The stuff you're doing is fantastic. It was so quick to learn and easy to understand, and it's really going to to help me stay on top of daily tasks." I'm not making this up. That was a real email that I received. When was the last time you guys got an email from your sales team thanking you for the work that you did as a marketer? I bet it's been a while. And I promise you, if you follow these lessons, you will get a thank-you email from your sales team, and you will be a more united front and you can fight as one, you can seize the moment, you can stay in it. So don't throw away your shot. Thank you.