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Sales and Marketing Alignment: Create a Better Interpersonal Relationship

Alignment Beyond Metrics

A lot of people talk about sales and marketing alignment. Often, the talk track includes shared definitions and routine meeting cadences. Those actions are good and certainly necessary, but this post is about going deeper. It’s about the importance of really getting to know your counterparts as people.

A lot of other people are talking a lot about how computers and cell phones have impacted our ability to really connect with one another. But few people talk about the link between a lack of interpersonal connection and its impact on working relationship, especially cross-functional ones. We’ve found anecdotally that teams with leaders who genuinely like, understand and have rapport with leaders in other cross-functional departments have better working relationships throughout their teams.

And that begs the question: How can you develop better interpersonal relationships within your team or with your counterparts in other areas of the organization?

Why Believe Me?

Sure, I’ve been around the block and consulting sales and marketing leaders for eight years, but still, why trust me? Good question.

Don’t.

All I did was read a book by a couple of guys way smarter than me. The book is The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. Highly recommend.

In Chapter 12, “Deepening Ties”, they explain how people can leverage Art Aron’s 36 Questions* to create deeper intimacy between them. And I’m not talking about inappropriate, get yourself into trouble intimacy, but rather wholesome getting to know each other. Although, you could also use these questions in your dating life.

Anyway, Mr. Aron has a PhD in Psychology and is very smart. So, trust him. Here are his questions, which again, start fairly easily and then get increasingly intimate. In a one hour conversation, you should be able to switch back and forth, getting to know another person.

I suggest trying this with someone close to you first and then being brave and asking a colleague out for a beer to try it with you. It should be fun, as you’ll see below and help you get to know the other person.

Art Aron’s Questions

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, who would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “we are both in this room feeling…”

26. Complete this sentence “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them. Be honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Sales and Marketing Alignment Example

I’m a big believer in practicing what I preach. Here, my desk neighbor and “sales guy”, Paul, and I tried a few questions out. I’d love to hear if you have used these in the past or plan to!

*If you want to dive deep into how Mr. Aron constructed these questions, see here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0146167297234003

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