Increasing sales

Marketing and sales: bring all your ‘stars’ into alignment

Sales and marketing are the most customer-facing functions in any business relying on sales. They’re the business’ growth engine and customers gauge the business on how these functions are handled.

Marketing and sales strategy needs to work together effectively to present the best possible image to the market and to build sales. Yet obstacles exist for getting the respective teams to support each other effectively.

The bleeding obvious

When a company has an integrated marketing strategy and sales strategy, this facilitates sales and marketing agreement on common goals, strategies and metrics. The benefits this alignment can bring a business are blatantly obvious.

If the sales and marketing teams work closely together, they’re able to share goals, technologies, processes and milestones that allow them to monitor and optimise the buying journey, from the first contact to a closed deal. Sharing means that communication between the two teams is free-flowing, and there are fewer impediments to reaching goals and revenue.

Yet in many businesses, the sales and marketing teams often have a difficult, sometimes prickly, relationship. Though both sides can appreciate the benefits of having a closely aligned relationship, the reality is far different. In fact, in many businesses, the difference between sales and marketing teams is pronounced, and the two work quite independently of each other. 

Communication and collaboration between the two teams don’t exist. This can be a huge impediment for growth, success and sustainability.

The seven deadly sins

1.   Doing nothing can be a big mistake

Turning a blind eye to a problem, denying there’s room for improvement, or merely accepting the status quo, can magnify issues that would be otherwise manageable. Many sales and marketing departments are working in their respective silos, often blissfully unaware of the need to adapt to the changing world around them. And many organisations have suffered for it. How did Kodak miss the digital-camera revolution? How did Canon not see the threat from smartphones with in-built cameras?

2.   Relying on quick fixes

When problems arise, like sales reps not meeting targets, many organisations look for quick fixes. However, these rarely work when it comes to sales and marketing collaboration. Typical quick fixes are:

  • Provide more sales training: a popular solution, but according to German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, 87% of new knowledge is forgotten within 30 days. What happens 30 days after sales training?
  • Hire more sales reps: the rationale for this popular choice is that if X number of reps bring in Y amount of revenue, more reps will bring in more. However, bringing more reps into a flawed sales and marketing environment won’t yield the desired results.

  • Generate more sales leads: this would definitely boost sales results if all your sales lead creation and management processes were perfect. If sales and marketing were working harmoniously together to generate, nurture, hand over, close and report on leads perfectly. If not, why spend money creating more leads only to see them lead nowhere due to a flawed process?

3.   Having no-one responsible for improving collaboration

For cooperation to be possible, cross-functional processes need to be implemented to ensure both sides are in alignment. Not having a referee in place to intermediate marketing and sales strategy and collaboration is a serious oversight.

4.   Neglecting the human element

Addressing the human dimension is a priority. Only then will it be appropriate to move on to how each department can support the other and set up joint processes and metrics.

5.   Believing that technology and customer data will deliver a miracle 

The latest whizz-bang technology promises the world. However, even the most sophisticated technology will remain ineffective if you don’t have your people and business processes aligned.

6.   Trying to implement change without executive support

When change touches on aspects of corporate culture, implementing reforms can be an uphill battle. These are often doomed to failure unless they have executive buy-in.

7.   Expecting immediate results

Any change must be given time to work its way through the system to have any chance at producing the hoped-for results.

Ideally, for your sales and marketing teams to support each other effectively you need to implement a method that encompasses the human aspects, processes, and technological elements of collaboration between the teams. A method that appreciates and addresses the respective competencies and objectives of both the sales and marketing functions.

A business thrives when marketing and sales strategy work together to achieve collective results.  

Peter Strohkorb

Peter Strohkorb

Sales Speaker, Author, and Mentor

Peter specialises in the services and technology sector, but has also helped sales leaders and reps in other industries. He has over 20 years of hands-on experience in executive-level Sales and Marketing roles with some of the biggest brands on the planet.

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