June 28, 2009

Bridging the Chasm Between Sales and Marketing

Sales people in many organizations are looking for more direct support from marketing, but it is not always forthcoming.
While, in fast growing companies sales and marketing work closely together, close co-operation between the two is not the industry norm. Indeed, in up to 50% of those companies we work with sales and marketing simply don’t get along. What a lost opportunity for both sides!
The Challenges of Aligning Marketing and Sales

In this article we highlight 4 situations were sales and marketing are ‘out-of-synch’ and the consequences that inevitably result. Then we offer some suggestions on aligning sales and marketing to accelerate sales growth.

Company 1: The politics of co-operation.

‘Our marketing team tends to do its own thing’ states the Ireland manager for one of our global clients. Elaborating on the subject he points out ‘I don’t know what marketing have planned for the year, but I imagine it will be pretty irrelevant to what I need to do, or in terms of my sales pipeline.’

Surprisingly, a mass marketing approach is being adopted despite the fact that there are just 60-80 companies in the Irish market for the company's multi-million pound high end solution. Logically, the manager proclaims ‘we should aim all our marketing at those companies and nobody else’.

However, just 2 months before a major marketing event in his territory– a high-profile one day seminar - the country manager has not seen a target list of invitees, or even a schedule for the day. When the newly purcahsed list does appear it clearly misses the mark.

Back in the company's UK headquarters the company’s siloed marketing team only belligerently co-operates with sales and politics is rife. There is a lack of clear leadership from the top, with both sales director and marketing director pulling the CEO in different directions.

Company 2: Stuck on glossy brochures & press releases.

‘Marketing has its own budget and programme of activity’ states the MD of another Client company. Proud of his company’s commitment to marketing he ads ’we have invested heavily in that area and recognize it as key to our success’.

However the disconnect between sales and marketing is becoming clearer with sales expecting more direct help from marketing, in particular greater support in respect of lead generation.

A divisional sales manager is leading a major drive to generate new leads and in particular to target those more profitable customers at the top end of the market. He has cadjoled and pressurises his sales team to start cold calling, yet marketing is nowhere to be seen.

Meanwhile, the marketing team’s focus appears to be stuck on glossy brochures and press releases. The fact that it is difficult to measure the results from these activities does not help.

Company 3: That’s not really marketing’s job.

‘Marketing’s job is to get the message out there and to build the profile of the company’ agreed the Managing Director and Sales Director in a third client company.

‘Our marketing has got a lot better in the past 12 months, we have a much clearer message and have got some good PR. Also we have discovered what does not work for us – specifically trade shows and analysts’ they added.

All that is very positive, but is it enough? Well looking at the priorities of the company it seems to fall short of what is required. Specifically, the company’s ambitious growth plans require a doubling of its pipeline and rapid growth in the volume of sales leads generated.

However the Sales Manager points out ‘that is not really marketing’s job’ suggesting the need to employ additional ‘pre-sales and sales support staff’. The marketing executive present meekly suggests ‘but we do generate some leads’.

Company 4: Old reliables: 

After a decade of buoyant demand, 2 successful international architectural practices are faced with an industry wide sales crisis. How to respond? Both companies reached into their out of date marketing tool kit and reached for what as most immediately to hand. They called in the brochure designers and the branding consultants.

The output was beautiful to look at, in fact in both cases the marketing materials were among the most luxurious and glossy I have ever seen. But did it result in one extra sale? Realising that more was required one of the two companies embarked on an initiative to drive up levels of business development, providing more than 50 directors and associate directors with the tools, training and support to renew old contacts and establish new ones, to look at new segments, new packages and new pricing. And the marketing manager was sitting eagerly in the front row.

The result a dramatic volume of calls, emails, meetings that continues to this day and has kept revenues flowing. But could this activity be described as sales, or marketing and does it really matter. Well, in our view it was a wonderful mix of both.

Conclusions - How to bridge the chasm between sales & marketing?

‘I did my MBA 15 years ago - in those days marketing was marketing and sales was sales’, responded a manager to the notion that marketing’s role had changed in respect of high value B2B sales. He added ‘marketing builds awareness and sales takes advantage of that to sell’.

But a lot has changed in 15 years, mass marketing has been replaced by a one-to-one approach. The reliance on traditional tools, such as advertising and events, has been given way to activities targeted directly at named executives in carefully selected organizations. In this way today's B2B marketing is sales-led.
With rising sales and marketing costs and finite corporate resources, a fractionalized approach to sales and marketing inevitably retards growth. In an effort to bridge the chasm between sales and marketing, managers are redefining; roles, responsibilities and structures to more closely align sales and marketing.
In the post mass-marketing B2B world, the guiding principle is that marketing should be Sales-Led, with its activities integrated with sales and focused directly on the pursuit of sales related objectives.

Some tips for aligning sales and marketing:

• Bring sales and marketing together and
get communication going. That means meetings, presentations and workshops on both sides, as well as the sharing of information, as well as staff. Any company committed to effective marketing should expect marketing to spend time in-front of customers, going along on sales calls, etc. This of course works both ways - sales people should occasionally sit in on; direct marketing campaign meetings, customer focus groups, etc.

Share information and plans, so that everybody knows what everybody else is doing, what the objectives are and what budget is being spent. Ensure there is formal input, from both sides, into each other’s plans.

• Develop
integrated B2B sales and marketing campaigns, around; an agreed target list, with a coordinated program of activity, specific quarterly objectives and regular reviews of results.

• Set
targets not just for sales but for all related sales and marketing activities, inputs and outputs. In particular, set targets for marketing in respect of lead generation, including the volume of leads and conversion rates from all marketing related activities (from telemarketing to events). How your sales database (CRM or SFA system) is used is vital to tracking performance in this area.

• Put
new structures for co-operation in place, such as joint review meetings, and re-write the roles where required.

• Adopt more of a
project management approach to sales and marketing campaign implementation to ensure high levels of visibility and control.

• Incentivize
marketing, just like sales. Bring marketing inside the tent and celebrate its achievements.

• Show
leadership from the top, with the CEO getting involved.

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