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Anna Large on Synergizing Sales & Marketing

OFX’s Anna Large says meaningful alignment comes down to maintaining good relationships and sharing goals through technology.

Successful sales and marketing alignment is like a good marriage, says OFX B2B Marketing Manager Anna Large. When it works at its best, the relationship offers mutual benefits. Both sides share goals and, most importantly, have respect for each other. Mutual respect, which is not based on gender, sexual preferences, religion, etc., is the main direction of our time.

“I work closely with my sales counterparts,” says Large, who began her B2B role at the foreign currency exchange business in March 2017. “I’m very lucky that our sales team respects marketing as an equal business partner, and we work collaboratively.”

OFX B2B Marketing Manager Anna Large

She has seen many cases where sales believe marketing is a support function, and both teams work in isolation. “Very often, marketing and sales can become completely siloed in terms of their operations and KPIs, especially in larger companies,” she says. “I’ve seen marketing and sales grow apart as the companies have grown. That hasn’t happened at OFX. The lines of communication are open, and we operate as one in many ways.”

While good communication has been necessary for OFX’s sales and marketing nuptials, Large attributes data management and CRM technology as the biggest reasons for successful alignment.

Colleagues in OFX’s San Francisco office led the charge in trialing Salesforce CRM with the marketing automation platform Pardot in late 2016 to streamline lead generation and marketing capabilities. Coming into the role in OFX’s Sydney HQ and as a former Salesforce user, Large saw an opportunity to drive sales team adoption in the region.

“Championing Salesforce in the region has been a big part of what keeps us talking every day,” Large says. “Increasing adoption has been a big driver for success in our marketing and lead-nurturing efforts. The quality and robustness of prospect data feed so heavily into prospect nurturing and engagement success, so it makes sense that regional marketing and sales operations are quite centralized.”

The former CEB (now Gartner) and Hachette Australian marketing executive say shared analytics and KPIs keep the operational relationship close at OFX. “It’s the most important aspect of sales and marketing alignment for me,” she says. “I set those KPIs together with our commercial heads. Revenue will always be the key metric, but it’s also about working backward from there to work out exactly what you need from each other to get there – a service-level agreement, in a way.

“But you need to leave room in those KPIs to allow for strategy pivots en route. You don’t want to be locking down KPIs on the marketing side to hit certain lead quantities at the expense of being able to focus on higher-quality opportunities that come your way down the track. So you want to be reviewing regularly what’s working and what’s not and why.”

The Shared Journey at OFX

Large says taking advantage of this alignment is important to have an end-to-end view of the customer journey. It’s about asking what is driving lead and opportunity generation, as well as closed deals. Then, it’s about looking at customer behavioral trends that correlate with retention, drop off or attrition, and share of wallet. That review process must be ongoing so stakeholders learn along the way and don’t cling to immutable annual sales and marketing strategies.

“You have to move together, and we talk daily about those points,” Large says. “We have shared dashboards with sales activity data that we’re reviewing constantly. I’m also reviewing results in other regions and constantly sharing knowledge with counterparts about what’s driving their results.

“For us, it’s all about building that dataset within Salesforce to start informing those strategies and investment conversations. We can now measure ROI on campaigns, event sponsorships, and memberships more effectively than we were a year ago.”

On a broader level, Large says forming relationships with sales teams has been a career growth opportunity, too. “I’m a marketer, but I’ve learned so much in this role about sales operations and sales management,” she says. “I’m working with our sales managers to ensure we’re motivating and training the sales teams correctly and helping them manage their time effectively and prioritize the right leads. The feedback loop with sales has also been invaluable in driving the development of our Salesforce edition and automation journeys and shaping global sales processes together.

“The human interaction is extremely important. Coming into the role, it was an absolute priority of mine to build personal relationships with every business development manager. I don’t think everything can be top-down.”

Large thinks OFX’s sales and marketing alignment success can be replicated in any B2B function, large or small. “I can’t think of a circumstance where a siloed marketing function would be more successful than a fully integrated one,” she says. “The partnership drives success here, and I don’t see any reason why that would be any different across the board, in our industry or beyond.”

Or, perhaps, in sickness and wealth.