‘If you are doing sales and marketing the same way you did 3-5 years ago, you won’t survive.’ Mary Shea, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research.
Traditionally, sales and marketing teams were set up as separate departments. The skills needed to be a successful salesperson and a successful marketer are quite different, so the thinking went. Marketing is a back-office function, sales is customer-facing. Marketing does the ads and mailers, sales brings home the bacon.
Already, you can see the problem.
It’s an outdated view of the function of sales and marketing. Marketing and sales have both become far more sophisticated and focused disciplines. Both exploit customer and market data and digital tools to better understand what customers want. And both want to win business by delivering what the customer wants most effectively.
Your sales and marketing teams might not be so dramatically separated as in previous decades, but are they truly aligned? If they aren’t, you are probably constraining your business growth.
In this three-part series, we explain why not aligning sales and marketing teams can hinder your potential. And we explore how you can reverse the situation by taking practical steps to align sales and marketing to drive revenue and profit.
Separate lives: the problem with estranged sales and marketing teams
‘Marketing is becoming more and more responsible for decisions and nurturing leads earlier in the process, and sales is getting them later on. Think about it like a relay race at a track meet and the baton transition. If it’s not well-timed, that baton is going to drop on the ground. The baton is sort of like the customer, and then the customer gets all bumped and bruised along the way.’ Eric Host-Steen, Sandler Sales Training
Working in a situation of estrangement and separation means that sales and marketing can actually damage each others’ efforts, as well as turning customers off. In a world where rich and accurate data underpins the most successful business plans and activities, keeping a wedge between two sets of valuable customer insight leads to inefficiency, inaccuracy and frustration.
Sales and marketing teams both need customer data in order to prioritise their campaigns and approaches. If each team has separate customer records and action recording, they are missing out on insight from shared data. They’re potentially going after the same customers in different campaigns, investing both sales and marketing budget to engage them and turn them into qualified prospects.
There’s no way to know what’s working best to achieve sales and conversions, so planning strategies for future success is inevitably hit and miss.
When employees from the rival departments discover that they’re competing for the same customers or have overlapping campaigns, it creates friction and internal conflict. This diverts effort from productive business activities and undermines the effectiveness of a collaborative approach.
A disjointed approach
If both sales and marketing are going after the lowest hanging fruit by their own criteria, it’s impossible to know whether fertile opportunities are being missed. There may be a swathe of target customers that isn’t quite attractive enough to meet separate marketing or sales criteria, but which forms an important segment when considered in the overall context.
With separate sales and marketing systems and activities, there’s no single version of the truth that everyone can trust. Nobody can see the complete picture of customer behaviour and response that could indicate a valuable opportunity or a risk of defection. Nobody has a complete view of the sales process from start to end. This makes lead scoring inaccurate and therefore of minimal value to both teams.
Organisations are getting leaner. Technology-enabled workstyles are improving overall professional productivity, cutting down on manual admin and processing. Headcounts are reducing in relative terms – including in the sales and marketing teams. But sales and marketing aren’t getting the same benefit from these digital opportunities when they remain separate. They’re going in the opposite direction, duplicating effort and failing to connect crucial information. They waste time and money through inefficiency and tunnel vision. They’re using more resources to achieve less.
In the digital age, customers have much more power to move through a decision and purchasing cycle of their accord. If the left-hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing in the sales and marketing area, it doesn’t inspire confidence in customers. Inconsistent or confusing messages can undermine your brand.
Receiving overlapping or conflicting approaches, offers or communications is at best an irritation and at worst a deal-breaker. When sales and marketing operate in silos, there’s a constant risk that customers will remove themselves entirely from your reach. Customers may then choose another channel or service provider that’s easier and more efficient to work with.