Three Lessons Marketing and Sales Can Learn from Romantic Comedies

 In Sales & Marketing Alignment

From It Happened One Night in 1934 to the upcoming Bridget Jones’ Baby, romantic comedies have long been a staple of Hollywood studios.

Cheaper to produce than either action or sci-fi and reliably profitable in domestic and overseas markets, a typical rom-com can gross three times its budget. Over the past five years, films in this genre have reliably shown a 200% profit margin.

Even if you’re not a fan, there’s still a lot Marketing and Sales can learn from films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding (the top grossing rom-com since 1995) or Shakespeare in Love, which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1998.

If you are a fan, I recommend this list of The Best Romantic Comedies, from The Apartment to Zelig over at The AV Club. For our purposes, let’s look at three important similarities:

Anatomy of Films

Flexibility: from Notting Hill to The Apartment, rom-coms provide a nearly infinite variety of characters, settings, challenges, and set-ups. In a similar vein, Marketing and Sales teams exist in nearly every company, in every industry, and every market.

Structure: Among the more than 700,000 Google search results for “romantic comedy story structure” are dozens of how-to and checklists that show exactly how two star-crossed protagonists will meet, annoy each other, reconcile, then live happily ever after. Speaking of…

Happy endings: Much like Harry and Sally, Sales and Marketing possess vastly different temperaments. Encouraged as much by their friends as by the demands of the plot, they overcome these differences to live happily ever after. For our purposes, it’s the demands of CMO that both parties work out their differences to achieve alignment on definitions, targets, and processes.

In that vein, let’s look at some of the key elements of a typical rom-com and how they can apply to Marketing and Sales alignment – particularly in the context of a Marketo deployment. For the full structure, check out this post featuring insights from UCLA screenwriting professor Billy Mernit. The Chemical Equation, in which we meet our protagonists.

On one hand is marketing, possessed of key messages, agency PowerPoints, and a fascination for the shiny and new. On the other, sales – impatient, hard-charging and driven by numbers. Each has heard of the other, but they’ve never met.

Hence… The Cute Meet, where our protagonists come into contact for the first time and their conflicting sensibilities are revealed. Do you remember the first time you talked to your inside sales team, or sat in on a sales call? I do. It was more than 10 years ago and it opened my world. From that meeting I learned our reps’ language, priorities, and expectations of marketing that continue to influence my thinking on the topic.

But it’s not that easy. Sales and Marketing must still face A Complication, in which a mistake or misunderstanding can put the entire relationship in jeopardy.

In our scenario, Marketing may have connected Marketo to Salesforce, but something’s still amiss. The numbers don’t add up and the names don’t jibe. And you still can’t agree on an SLA. Here, it’s up to the kooky best friend – or certified Marketo expert – to talk sense into both Sales and Marketing and convince them to redouble their efforts and recommit.

A successful relationship is one in which each person helps the other to become the best version of themselves. For our purposes this leads us to Joyful Defeat, in which our partners realize they not only really enjoy each other’s company, they need each other to succeed. In Hollywood, this is Harry and Sally reminiscing after years of life together.

For our purposes, it’s Marketing and Sales having worked through their differences for a faster hand-off, more quality leads, and a fatter pipeline.

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