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 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”.

“Companies that optimize the marketing/sales relationship grow revenue 32% faster.” –Aberdeen Group, 2016

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.

“The perfect strategy without execution is worthless”

What can Marketing teach Sales?
Marketing tends to be very good a planning ahead and being strategic with their approach. This is a skill that Sales can always improve upon to increase the ability to reach their revenue targets. A marketing framework that I think would be helpful for salespeople is the Marketing Mix Framework (aka the 4 P’s).

Product – Know you product inside and out. Good sales people are well informed about their product and understand the solution it offers to the customer.

Place – Know where your customers are…and then go there. Go beyond just selling to people where all the other vendors are and understand where they go to get information about making decisions about buying your products. Blogs, social media, physical locations, etc. If you are there you can be a part of the conversation. If you are not…your competition probably is.

Price – Understand the buying decision for your target customer. What “price” do they have to pay to buy your product? Their time? Reputation? Just the pain of doing something different? The better you understand what the customer has to give up in order to buy your product the better you can proactively respond to their potential concern or objection.

Promotion – How do you make the customer aware not only that your product exists but why they should care? This is really about consultative selling and positioning the product in a way that resonates with the potential customer.

Salespeople should and typically know their business better than anyone. But there is always time to step back and think like a marketer. It will help in being more focused and more strategic. In the end, it makes life easier and will translate into more sales.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” — Zig Zigler

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 the other. When it comes to Sales and Marketing Alignment (SMA), achieving “Togetherness” is the ultimate goal.