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The award-winning ‘get sh*t done guide’ to global teamwork | B2B Marketing

Joe Edwards, who previously led the recently-crowned B2B marketing team of the year at Sage, explains the secrets behind building an award-winning team

The more PC version of this post would be ‘How to build a high-performing award-winning marketing team’. But no one would read that, so I promised myself that if the team won ‘B2B marketing team of the year’ at

Ignite 2017


People Awards

, I’d write a blog post about how we did it. So, here it is…

There’s no magic to this stuff, and in fact, it’s less about all the corporately imposed performance reviews, and much much more about people, mindset and attitude.  

One of the biggest things I’ve learned from my short year at Sage (I’ll explain at the end) is that it’s all about soft skills. If I compared what I learned about marketing skills versus relationship skills, it’s about 90% relationships to 10% marketing. In a big organisation like Sage, it’s more about working 


 people to get things done. Soft skills are hard!

But before I get into that, a little about the team, below is the org chart, first thing to note, I’m on the bottom, not the top, why? Because I wanted to support them and not be some overbearing task master, I took the approach that we’re friends first, then we’ll do a great job.

I gave them all mildly amusing nicknames – none were ever meant in a derogatory way – and shared these with the team as a way to let them understand each other and themselves a little. It’s really what I felt about them all. 

Kirsty = The geek
Danny = The northern monkey
Ness = The raver (music nut)
Shannon = Miss twisted (dark TV series habits)
Laura = The passionate one
Georgia = The mum
Ali = The cheeky one
Sarah = Miss ‘on it like a car bonnet’ (so diligent and fast)
Charlotte = The geezer (a total football fan and behaved more like one of the lads)

How to build a high performing award-winning marketing team image

I’m also going to state that the performance of the team has very little to do with me: they’re an incredibly talented bunch of individuals, who just needed some support to achieve. I think all I really did was bring them together and made sure we kept it fun (fun was probably the biggest part actually). I stole a line from a strategist couple (I admire their views on life and marketing): “If it’s not fun it won’t be good” by 

Faris and Rosie Yakob

 – and as a team, we lived by it.

One of my favourite lines was from Kirsty – our global campaign lead for accounting and accountants – who said: “We’re a great team. We’re so dispersed across the globe, and it really doesn’t feel like it.”  

So, how did we come together given the fact we’re a global team? Well, it started with a team initiation, which involved a set of questions about the team that, if answered incorrectly, resulted in shots of tequila (this isn’t the standard Sage approach, nor was it my idea I’d like to add, great ideas come from anyone!). In reality, most of this was about communication:


For fun and banter (holiday pictures, work nights out, cool creative stuff we see) – general rule is if you mention work related stuff in this WhatsApp group, you buy the next round of drinks when you all meet up. 


For all work-related comms, sharing thoughts and ideas and progress.

Skype for Business 

Mainly for video conferencing and how we carried out our weekly catch-ups, as it’s really important to see each other’s faces, especially when you can’t be F2F. Generally, the agenda was led by myself, but everyone was vocal and added value. 


We use this as a place to keep people well briefed on campaign updates, typically the weekly calls the team have and the monthly low down.


We had a team email address so it was easy to pass information on to each other.

F2F workshops

We hold bi-annual, face-to-face workshops to progress the team’s planning, operations and processes. We’d always make sure we did a customer interview in these sessions and invite other colleagues in for collaboration, and we always made sure we did it in a different office over time so it gave us a chance to meet the other teams.

The monthly low down

This is a webinar covering the team’s entire activity to everyone else who is involved in the campaigns (circa 300 people). It’s recorded and the slides and recordings are posted to Chatter and then sent out via email with a link to that Chatter post (driving them back to the group to engage). Generally, it consists of what we’ve achieved and what’s coming up next.

Weekly operational calls

These occurred with the regional teams to make sure they have everything they need and they were passing information back to us to ensure we were improving the campaigns.

Weekly team calls

Probably one of the most important ways to keep the team connected and contributing. One piece we found has worked well to build this team has been to share responsibility wherever possible. For instance, we did an internal desk-drop to improve the adoption of campaigns. Ali led this but had to make sure she was coordinating the rest of the team around it. 


These are used to bring key stakeholders and decision-makers around specific creative, strategic and tactical plans to gather their feedback and input and move the campaigns/activity forward. Typically over WebEx, documents are sent to them 48 hours prior to the meeting and then further feedback requested 48 hours later, which didn’t always happen as cleanly as we’d like. We tried to make sure we were as predictable as possible.

The buddy system

We paired the team members up so they’d spend time on each other’s calls and learn from each other. This helped for holiday cover, learning, improving and building the relationships. 

What others said

Here are some comments from the team and our colleagues that really outline the results from our style of working: 

“What the Sage Global Campaign Team was able to accomplish – handle hundreds of digital assets in multiple languages meeting dozens of business requirements – was nothing short of a sleight of hand. They quickly established a tight process, fun comms that included video, desk drops, and ‘surprise’ links to insightful or fun content at the end of decks, cogent updates on results and superb creative. It was exciting watching them work and being able to collaborate with them along the way.” – Melissa Romo, content marketing director

“The category campaign team do it all. Concept. Strategy. Planning. Execution. Which is how it should be – elements of digital marketing need to be connected to be as impactful as possible to drive my objectives as a product marketing stakeholder. I want it all (awareness, consideration, adoption) and this is the team I start with.” – Edmund Bondoc, product marketing director

“Sage’s campaigns team collaborates very closely with the field marketing teams to drive demand creation results. They are excellent at taking on feedback and delivering strategic and tactical improvements where required. What I like most about the campaigns team is their team spirit, commitment to results and agility in delivering required campaigns assets. They’re critical to help field marketers fuel the demand generation machine,  and we wouldn’t be able to deliver the results we do without them. And possibly most importantly, they are great fun to work with! It’s always a pleasure to interact with that team.” – Miguel Gernaey, VP integrated demand marketing

My departure from Sage

You might be asking why, given the success we’ve had in one year, I would decide to leave Sage. Now, I say this openly: Sage (like any job or business) is not without its challenges. We wouldn’t have jobs if there weren’t challenges, but this had nothing to with my decision. It was very hard to leave such an amazing team of people, and if I ever get to work with such a high-calibre group of people again in my life, I’d count myself very, very lucky. My decision was to follow my passion – basketball.

Maybe basketball philosophy played a part in the success of the team, who knows? But I do know you can’t lead a successful team without willing and determined individuals that want to work together and become better together.

Here’s my parting email to everyone we worked with:

Subject: Thanks for the memories…

To the Crazy Ones…

Thanks for the memories… a line by one of my favourite hip-hop brass bands.

I’m gonna keep this short(ish)…

Sage, feels like I’ve been here an age

That may sound real bad, it’s actually been real rad

The people I’ve worked with, had so much to give

I’ve learnt a ton and had a whole bunch of fun

… bad poetry ends here…


Thanks to everyone I’ve worked with, I’ve shared some wins with you and learnt something every other time.

Sage is very lucky to have such a dedicated bunch of crazy people working for it.

How to build, nurture and retain the ultimate marketing team

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