Marketing Challenge: Rumor Has It (All Wrong)

Ashburn Technologies’ new CMO, Rhonda Botusky, is a staunch believer in marketing and sales alignment. During her first few weeks at Ashburn she spent as much time with the sales team as with her own to understand its needs and the current relationship between sales and marketing at the tech firm. It became clear that salespeople were hungry for better quality leads, and were comfortable receiving fewer leads if the ones they do receive are on target.

At her previous job Botusky had introduced variable compensation for the marketing team based on the sales team’s performance. After a bumpy start and a few resignations, collaboration between marketing and sales improved, as did lead quality and closed deals. Everyone was happy. She was convinced that she could do the same at Ashburn with less disruption, having succeessfully managed through the transition once before.

Unfortunately, one of the sales reps overheard a piece of the conversation when Botusky was discussing her plan with VP of Sales Devon Doray, assumed the worst, and set alight a rumor that spread like wildfire. The rep told sales colleagues that they were going to have to split commissions with the marketing team, and told the marketers that they were going to take a pay cut and start working on base pay with commission. There was an uproar even before Botusky and Doray finished hashing out the details of a far more equitable plan: Sales compensation remained the same; marketers’ bonuses were reworked based on a combination of deals closed and company profitability, instead of simply the latter. Now Botusky had to face the uphill battle of dispelling the rumor and getting buy-in to the new plan.

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