That Functional Approach to Sales and Marketing is Killing Your Business!

Let’s start by defining a System Approach (closed loop system) to Sales and Marketing alignment. 

A closed loop system tracks inputs from the front end, all the way to the results at the back end, and provides reporting for the entire process.

Why do I think a system approach is required to increase Sales and Marketing alignment? Well…today’s business environment is less about size and more about adaptability (even Charles Darwin would agree). How can you be adaptable if you are not able to work together efficiently?

Technology encourages competition

Technology has assisted in evening the playing field thus, giving smaller, more agile companies an advantage. We are no longer just able to put our heads down and “do our work”. It is imperative for the organization to achieve alignment in what needs to be accomplished for the survival of the whole. Arguably, this relationship is nowhere more important than between Sales and Marketing. Many Sales and Marketing organizations today work like an uncoordinated team during a 3-legged race at the family reunion. Even though the goal should be the same – to cross the finish line first – they have no coordinated effort and are only on the same team because they are forcibly linked together. What if the organs in your body worked together in that manner? Do you really think your heart is more important than your liver?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
— Charles Darwin

The key difference between a functional versus a system approach is not communication…but communication style. The vulnerability of operating in siloed functions is that the output is only as good as the input. It’s as simple as what we learned in high school algebra: f(x) = 3x +4. If you put ill-informed, inaccurate, biased information into the function how can you expect to achieve magically superior outputs?! This is essentially what companies are doing that allows one group to tell another group what to do without any established feedback loop. In addition, this myopic action also explains why the iteration process, if it even exists, takes an incredibly long time. Simply put, this type of relationship is unsustainable if attempting to achieve success.

Strategies to move toward a System approach to customers

  • Discourage relationship hierarchy between Sales and Marketing.
  • Create a method for honest/candid feedback between Sales and Marketing that includes more than just leadership.
  • Ensure that everyone’s goals and incentives are aligned.
  • Reward inter-functional work that leads to results.
  • Conduct alignment meetings regularly to review and adjust business strategy as needed.


Jeff Davis

The Sales + Marketing Alignment Summit, Chicago, IL