In today’s business environment it is becoming more and more important to have strong alignment between Sales and Marketing. The Aberdeen Group’s research shows that companies that optimize the marketing/sales relationship grow revenue 32% faster. This is clear evidence that the dysfunctional and sometimes toxic relationship between these two functions can no longer exist if the organization is to succeed against the competition. Some may ask then why don’t we just appoint an executive, like a Chief Revenue Officer, and make them work together?
My simple answer is….management is not the only problem. There needs to be a fundamental shift in the way these two functions see each other and a clearer understand of their interdependence. I call it creating “Togetherness”. It’s that sense of understanding that we are all in this together and if we don’t work together well we won’t be able to generate revenue and then we all loose. It’s when Marketing thinks about the impact that their work has on generating revenue and ask how will Sales be able to execute this strategy. It’s when Sales interacts with customers, learns new insights and proactively thinks that I need to share this information with Marketing to add to the collective knowledge of the company. It’s when both Sales and Marketing understand that everything they do should be focused on generating revenue for the company. This is “Togetherness”.
Having a career in both Sales and Marketing, I have seen first-hand the missed opportunities for each group to work together better. The majority of the times I have witnessed an alarming misunderstanding of the value their peers of the other function bring to the table. It’s estimated that Sales reps ignore 50% of marketing leads [Source: The B2B Lead]. Anytime you have either Sales or Marketing dismissing the work of the other, you have an enormous problem in your organization. The perfect strategy without execution is worthless. I cannot think of two business functions that need each other more than Sales and Marketing. So I propose doing more to help Sales and Marketing understand the value of their colleagues.
What can Sales teach Marketing?
One of the many missed opportunities that I have noticed is involving Sales early in the planning process for the brand/product strategy. Marketing usually knows the macro-level market better than Sales. However, when it comes to understanding the potential roadblocks to execution and the subtleties of tactical delivery, Sales almost always understands this better. Many times there are shifts in the environment that Marketing is not aware yet. By having Sales on board working in tandem, Marketing can avoid major avoidable missteps that can help them be more competitive.
I would suggest a few things to Marketing:
- Include Sales early in the development of strategy for the brand/product
- Review the viability of realistic execution when it comes to establishing strategies
- Continuously elicit feedback from Sales and use this data to help evaluate business KPIs (key performance indicators)
There is a wealth of knowledge that both Sales and Marketing can share with each other. If the organization is truly committed to making this relationship work they must invest the time to share best practices between these two teams so they can learn to appreciate one another. When it comes to Sales and Marketing Alignment, achieving “Togetherness” is the ultimate goal.