Hatfields vs. McCoys. Scotland vs. England. Republicans vs. Democrats. Sales vs. Marketing. Yes, we’re talking about long, painful and often brutal feuds. Ok, so maybe we are exaggerating just a little about sales and marketing. But admittedly, most companies we’ve worked with have shared stories of conflicts and challenges. It’s true. Sales and marketing just don’t get along. In fact, 87 percent of the terms sales and marketing use to describe each other are negative, according to a recent survey.
As marketers, we bow to altar of Sales and Marketing alignment – the perfect storm when sales and marketing work together. And according to the Harvard Business Review, it’s been shown that ‘companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: ‘sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.’ So the bottom line is that as equal partners, sales and marketing must find a way to work together. Here are 3 strategies that will go a long way towards better teaming and alignment between sales and marketing (adapted from Fortune)
1. Design marketing and sales responsibilities around the customer buying process: Marketing and sales should be organized around the steps that the customer goes through to become exposed to, build knowledge about, form purchase intentions for, and ultimately purchase the company’s products and/or services. These steps will vary for each company depending on the nature of the product/service, competition, and the industry. Outline these steps and then assign marketing and sales responsibilities at each stage. This way both functions work together to meet the customer needs during each stage and support the customer’s progress to the next.
2. Create a unified focus on the most valuable customers: One reason marketing and sales do not lock arms in companies is because the company has not focused their joint attention on the most valuable customers. Sales people need to meet their quotas and if those quotas don’t include the company’s most valuable customer, sales will not be prospecting or acquiring the right customers. Marketing can help identify these customers, develop materials to do so, and service sales as it closes these deals. This priority can help facilitate cooperation and create a unifying objective for the two.
3. Organize around the customer, not the function: Most executives likely agree that there is too much focus on turf and not enough on the customer. There are a number of ways that companies can organize around the customer. One is to create customer groups and not product groups. This puts marketing and sales together into groups to serve segments of customers. Marketing and sales can be split into upstream and downstream customer teams with attention to different aspects of the lead management process. The idea puts the function the employee represents into the background while bringing the activities and purpose of that function into the foreground. This aligns all efforts to better serve the customer and limits finger pointing, power games, and turf wars.