Sales and marketing: like two squabbling siblings

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The disconnect between sales and marketing is a much discussed topic, on and offline. When you take it back to basics they’re both working towards the same common objective: to bring in more business. Yet often they work against each other, squabbling to take the credit for ‘bringing that new account in’ or, worst still, not sharing vital information that can benefit the SAME company they work for. Some company structures don’t help by treating the two functions as two separate entities when merging them into one team, with one common goal would surely help them get along and grow the business together. Instead they view each other with mistrust. Sales focusing on their target for the month and eyeing marketing’s ‘fluffy’ attempts at bringing in more business with distaste. Marketing wondering why Sales hasn’t followed up on all leads they’ve generated and why they’re not meeting their targets. The reality is that they think differently. Marketing is more concerned with how many leads it brings into the business whereas sales is all about how many of these are then turned into cold hard business.

So what to do? As with most things, it comes from the top. Overall we need to ensure goals are aligned and both teams have one common perspective. A tricky task, but not impossible. FutureLab’s Jon Miller lists 7 Strategies to Generate & Close More Leads in his article 7 Strategies To Building Sales-Marketing Alignment which I’ve listed here.

1. Get commitment from the top. The marketing and sales teams need to communicate, and it needs to start from the CMO and CSO. Says Fernandez. “The VP of Sales and VP of Marketing should go get a beer together.”

2. Model the marketing/sales funnel. An integrated revenue funnel helps each team understand what the other team is doing, and how their actions impact revenue.

3. Develop a common vocabulary. A common marketing/sales funnel also provides common language and metrics, which is especially important for defining when a lead is qualified and/or ready to be handed over to sales.

4. Look for operational disconnects. Make sure that goals, initiatives, and promotions are aligned by developing plans jointly and meeting monthly or at least quarterly.

5. Test key metrics to track. Trying to tackle all sales-marketing alignment issues at once is too daunting, so start by tracking two important metrics, such as lead volume and lead quality. This is a great way to start the dialog.

6. Create a closed-loop reporting process. Make sure marketing has a way to follow-up with sales to see how well leads are performing. This can help tune lead gen efforts, and is an important way to take qualified prospects that are not yet sales ready and recycle them back into marketing.

7. Share accountability between the teams. Marketing is a very measurable process, but the results are head to measure; it’s easy to measure Sales outcomes but Sales activity is hard to measure. As a result, compensation and rewards tend to be very different, which creates further problems. The better your marketing accountability and ability to measure marketing’s impact on the bottom line, the easier it is to bridge this gap.

Clearly now is the time to put this into practice to ensure businesses make it through the tough times and go on to flourish when things improve. So let’s pull those squabbling siblings out from their opposing corners and get them working together.

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