In November of last year, I published a post at my blog titled It’s Time to Integrate Marketing and Sales. It’s now the second most popular post at the blog, and it also created quite a stir at LinkedIn. In the Sales and Marketing Alignment group alone, the post had prompted 99 comments as of yesterday.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of comments that supported the basic idea of integrating marketing and sales. The comments also revealed, however, that there are widely different views about what the “integration” of marketing and sales really means. To maximize the potential of integrating marketing and sales, company leaders must have a clear and detailed picture of what the end result should look like.
In my view, there are four key ingredients in the recipe for marketing and sales integration.
A Unified Go-to-Market Strategy and Plan
An integrated marketing/sales function must be based on a comprehensive go-to-market strategy and plan that has been jointly developed by marketing and sales. For integration purposes, the most important components of the go-to-market strategy/plan are:
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- The value propositions that describe how your products and/or services create value for customers
- A definition (description) of the kinds of organizations that constitute your company’s target market (an ideal customer profile)
- Profiles (personas) of the types of individuals who make or influence the decision to purchase the kinds of products or services that your company offers
- A description of the messages and content resources that will be used to communicate your value propositions to potential buyers
- A description of the lead stages that your company will use to categorize prospects and the criteria you company will use to qualify prospects. This will include a definition of what constitutes a “sales-ready” lead.
Integrated Demand Generation Processes
An integrated marketing/sales function is also based on a set of demand generation processes that collectively span the entire revenue generation cycle. Some of these processes will be performed exclusively by marketing, and others exclusively by sales. However, several critical demand generation processes, such as lead nurturing and lead qualification, will require the involvement of both marketing and sales. What’s important here is the recognition that marketing processes and sales processes are components of a single revenue generation system and that they are often connected and interdependent.
Integrated Technology Systems
To maximize the results from marketing/sales integration, marketers and sales professionals must be working from the same data relating to prospects and customers. Therefore, it’s important to integrate the information systems and technology tools used by marketing and sales. The most significant integration will typically involve the company’s marketing automation/lead management software and its customer relationship management software.
Unified Leadership and Management
A fully integrated marketing/sales function will be led by a single C-level executive. The title of this executive may be Chief Customer Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, or something similar. Whatever title is used, the important point is that one senior executive is responsible for leading all of the company’s revenue-generating activities.
Those are my key ingredients for a full integration of marketing and sales. What would you add to or remove from this list?
I’d also like to hear your views about whether fully integrating marketing and sales is always the best course of action. What circumstances make integration critical to success, and what circumstances make another approach the best solution? Please comment to share your views.