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3 Very Different Ideas for Aligning Sales and Marketing [UML]

3 Very Different Ideas for Aligning Sales and Marketing [UML]

What’s the best way to organize a team for maximum business effect?  It’s a leadership question on which businesses spend incredible amounts of time and resources.

It involves structuring and restructuring in an effort to get it just right, though precisely what “right” looks like is liable to vary from business to business. And from leader to leader.

On occasion, if it weren’t for the people affected, it would be almost comedic to watch a successive business leader spend years re-structuring what a predecessor took years to structure.  It’s the prerogative of business leaders.

Yet there’s one area in particular, that’s always been of interest to marketing – alignment with sales – and that’s the theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links.  Below you will find three fascinating articles with three very different recommendations along the following lines:

  • Sales and marketing are at odds and should be separate departments;
  • Consolidating these into a single department is the best path to alignment;
  • These two functions are natural partners that should unify behind common goals

Have a look at these perspectives and feel free to chime in with your view in the comments.

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1) CMO vs. VP sales: The Inevitable Battle

Sales and marketing usually are and should be separate departments according to Billy Cina in this contribution for CIO.com.  Seems straight forward until she writes:

“Sales and marketing are not powered by the same motives, nor incentivized by the same results. Attempts to fix this are futile.”

That’s a pretty heavy allegation and she runs through six conflicts – such as lead qualification and CRM data – that will familiar to anyone that’s worked on sales and marketing alignment. While I can identify with much of what she says and credit her for speaking plainly, I find her conclusion hard to accept:

“Marketing will always consider Sales to be lazy bonus-driven zealots who would sell their grandma to hit their sales target this quarter. Sales on the other hand, will always regard Marketing as money burning idealists who like to make the company logo look pretty and deliver shabby leads.”

Read the entire piece and then consider…is this really how it is in your organization?

2) Why and How to Merge Sales and Marketing

In stark contrast to the article above, Ben Davis argues sales and marketing should be merged into a single department in this piece for Econsultancy. He cites several considerate reasons that merit perusing in detail, but his view on the customer experience leaped off the page at me:

“The customer has never seen their own path to purchase as a funnel, nor do they want to be clunkily handed from one department to another.

Improving the customer path to purchase is common to every model of digital transformation, whether it be customer focused, technology focused or organisation focused.

The fact that so much of the research phase for customers now occurs online means the remit of marketing draws ever closer to the moment a customer decides to buy.”

While I admire the argument, I’m not sure this the answer either, because merging them will lead to one dominant philosophy.   That philosophy will be either sales heavy or market heavy, where really, the natural tension between these two departments is probably healthy for the overall business.

3) You Can’t Afford Sales and Marketing Silos     

Sales and marketing are natural partners, according to Jonathan Gray in this piece for Sales and Marketing Management.  He advocates for shared objectives, good communication, and presents an interesting idea for a “sales and marketing lab.”  He describes an initiative within a business aimed at bringing these two functions together:

“The marketing team developed detailed and hypersegmented customer personas so we could target the right people with the right content. The marketers also devised SEO strategies and conducted testing on Axtel’s messaging and landing pages, which helped ensure that more people were qualified leads before reaching the sales department.

The data collected throughout the customer journey allowed Axtel’s highly trained sales representatives to provide personalized service when the time came to convert. Based on this information, the lead was delivered to the right sales rep, who had the most complete knowledge to help that customer.”

The results of the initiative?  Leads were up by more than 60%, the cost per lead dropped by 40%, and overall, sales more than doubled.

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Do you need help with PR and content that enable sales?  Contact us today to discuss PR and content marketing services that deliver results.

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Photo credit:  Flickr, Toshihiro Oimatsu, alignment (CC BY 2.0)

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