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The Love-Hate Relationship Between Sales and Marketing

It’s frustrating to see when two people who have so much in common – the same interests, the same sense of humor, the same goals – never become a couple. The same heartbreak often occurs among sales and marketing teams.

In order for a fulfilling relationship to be sustained over the long-term (yes, a technical description of a romantic concept), there needs to be strong communication. Similarly, achieving alignment between marketing and sales departments is the largest opportunity for improving business performance today, and it all comes down to communication between the two groups. They need to speak the same language.

But that is easier said than done. While both departments are highly dependent on each other, they can also have different motivations and metrics – and that’s a significant problem – since the only metric in the end that really counts is revenue. The two groups can have conflicting perspectives on what it takes to achieve long-term revenue goals. For example, the sales department often has a short-term focus because of the pressure of making quarterly revenue targets. Marketing not only has to support these revenue targets but also has to generate awareness and leads to fuel the sales engine in subsequent quarters. This is why it is not always ideal for an organization’s marketing department to report directly to the sales VP. Ultimately future growth can be compromised by the demand for short-term revenue.

So how do you marry the two so that everyone is happy, including the bottom-line?

Marketing and sales can work together more effectively by collaborating and gaining insight into each other’s success metrics. In the most productive scenario, good marketing will ENABLE the sale. Marketing draws customers’ attention, describes the offer and explains the value. But let’s face it – marketing needs sales to nurture the relationship, build a business case and close the deal. Without sales, there probably won’t be a sale. And marketing exists to make the sales process easier so the company makes more sales.

It all comes down to communication.

“Integration is not a dreamland of endless possibilities with revolutionary marketing results at the end of a rainbow. It’s an ongoing process made up of many discrete but valuable steps, each contributing to the greater cause.”

If you’ve ever heard a good piano player, you know that by themselves they can create beautiful music. But, combine the piano with a guitar, saxophone, vocalist and a few other pieces. Suddenly, you have a richer and more powerful sound.

Similarly, marketing tools may deliver one level of results when used alone or independent of each other. However, when you combine the tools into an integrated marketing plan – a cohesive symphony of marketing efforts with coordinated timing and consistent messaging – the synergy increases results dramatically.

The goal is to make all aspects of marketing communication media work together as a unified force, rather than allowing each to work in isolation, which maximizes their cost effectiveness.

Sales and Marketing Mistakes

When it comes to sales and marketing, you can do it right or you can do it wrong.

I saw an incredible demonstration yesterday on how to do it right.

Let me explain. Yesterday my wife and I went to Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota. The show was “George Gershwin Alone.” It was a one man show about the music and lyrics by the brothers George and Ira Gershwin.

It was based on the book written by Hershey Felder who also happened to be the star of the show. What a terrific performance.

Usually at the end of a show there are curtain calls, depending on how good the show is.

When the show ended Hershey came out to a standing ovation. But this was different. After a short minute or two he waved at the audience to take our seats and we did.

He asked the audience to call out George Gershwin song titles for him to play and sing. Then he proceeded to sing some songs and had fun with the audience.

So when he finishes this routine he says the Theatre asked him for his help.

He said in one week he would be doing another limited engagement show, “Maestro – The Art Of Leonard Bernstein.” He told us he wanted us to go to the Box Office right after the show and buy tickets because we would save 20% because we were at today’s show.

Well of course I was the second one in line to buy these tickets.

He said the Theatre asked for even more help. He agreed. He told us he brought just 200 copies of his soon to be released NEW CD and he would donate all the proceeds to the Theatre. He said he would also be happy to autograph the CDs.

After I bought the tickets to his next show I also bought his new CD for $50.

Look, Hershey gave an amazing performance and then proceeded to demonstrate the art of salesmanship.

He gave us a call to action. He told us where to go to buy the tickets today.

He gave us an incentive for buying today – save 20%.

He created a sense of urgency with his CDs by saying the supply was limited and he only had 200 copies.

He added more value by offering to autograph the CDs.

I go to a show to be entertained and I was. I also had the opportunity to see a brilliant display of salesmanship.

Let me put this into a business perspective for you.

Some of the biggest sales and marketing mistakes I see people and companies making include the following:

Selling on price. Why sell on price when you can sell on value? I believe the word discount should be eliminated from all marketing and advertising materials.

The word discount should be replaced with the words value and incentives. And whenever possible your value should be quantified in dollars. If you can’t quantify your value don’t expect your sales prospects and customers to be able to see it.

Selling features instead of selling benefits. This is a huge mistake marketers make. Salespeople also do the same thing and are always talking about features instead of focusing on the product’s benefits.

Let’s take a windshield wiper blade for example. These blades are made of rubber plain and simple. Yes they cling to the windshield and remove rain, sleet, and snow from your windshield.

But what’s the benefit for your customer? Well, the benefit for a senior citizen who has to drive down a mountain to buy groceries and go to church during a winter storm is peace of mind and safety because the windshield wiper blades enable your customer to see clearly and drive safely.

No sense of urgency. Tell your sales prospects and customers that your supply of wiper blades is limited, just like Hershey did. In fact tell them how many you have in stock and they need to hurry in because they’ll be all gone in a few days.

No call to action. This one is a no-brainer. Do what you can to make it easier for your customers to buy. Bernadette, my wife, goes ballistic when she sees an article or an advertisement for a product she’s interested in and there’s no contact information.

Be sure to include a person’s name, an address, a phone number, store hours, and a website if your product can be ordered on line.

Tell people to visit your store today to get a special bonus product with every purchase.

Make it easy for your customers to do business with you and they’ll keep coming back.

And always say, “Thank you for your business,” enthusiastically!

And I must say thank you to Hershey for his 2 brilliant and memorable performances.

Sales and Marketing Executive Search

The field of headhunting is a very challenging one when it comes to finding and recruiting top sales and marketing talent…whether they be executive, mid-level, sales management, marketing management or front line sales and marketing producers. Searching for these types of top candidates is no easy task.

If your company is trying to find the best, make sure to bring in an experienced sales and marketing recruiter who can help you. They are worth their weight in gold, and their fees are easily justified. By outsourcing to a search firm, you can reduce your hiring time, improve the process and avoid the risk of mis-hires.

I see lots of companies that have made mis-hires over the years, and it’s not because they haven’t done their best to find good candidates. The problem is that their best is just not good enough. Often times, Presidents or Chief Operating Officers or VP’s of Sales rely on the same tools as everybody else to try to find candidates, which includes posting ads on Monster.com, Careerbuilder or one of the other major career sites. This just doesn’t cut it anymore.

If you want to find the best talent, deploy the best talent to find those people for you, which means hiring an executive search or retained recruiting firm that specializes in sales and marketing. If you don’t, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Now you may ask yourself, why should I spend money to go find candidates when I can just find them myself by posting on the internet? The fact is, the best people, the top talented people are not looking for jobs, they already have jobs. So they’re not going to see your job psoting because they’re not actively looking at online listings. Recognize that those talented people are already working, happy and making good money in a job somewhere else. You’ve got to go find them, and the best way to do this is through a professional recruiting firm.

It’s very costly, very time consuming and very difficult for somebody who’s running a business to go spend time to actually identify, locate, find and extract potential employees from competitors or other companies. This is where an executive search firm ads real value.

The fees involved can run between 25 and 35% of a person’s total compensation in the first year, which is a lot of money. You’d ask yourself, how can I justify that? The answer is, how can you justify not spending that money if it makes a difference between hiring an “A” player and hiring a “C” player? An executive recruiting firm possesses the ability to find top talent and put them to work for you.

Think about how the following would impact on business: hiring a person into a position to sell $1 million in annual revenue, versus hiring a top performer who can achieve $3 million worth of annual revenue. If you hire a recruiter who can bring this kind of incremental revenue to your company by finding top talent, why wouldn’t you pay for the best? They’re going to pay for themselves over and over and over again throughout the years.

So think about hiring a sales and marketing recruiting company, or a sales and marketing staffing company as a strategic vehicle towards growing your business.