Why Can’t Sales and Marketing Just Get Along?

The sales and marketing disconnect has been going on as long as they both exist – marketing creates targeted campaigns and complains that sales don’t follow up on leads. Sales complain that they aren’t getting “quality” leads (depending on the organization, quality seems to be a moving target). Marketing develops their interpretation of messaging for the collateral (brochures, videos, direct mail etc…) and sales presentations and sales creates their own sales presentations with different messaging. Different branding by the two departments for the same product confuses the customer. The dialog goes back and forth until management sits everyone down at the same table. Sound familiar?

At the end of the day, sales and marketing have to come together to deliver a clear and consistent value proposition that enables prospects to develop a coherent brand image of the company and its products. Forrester Research recently reported similar findings in “B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment Starts with the Customer.” Only six of the sixty-six marketing and sales leaders who responded to Forrester’s survey, reported that the two groups worked closely together. Now those are some alarming statistics. The study confirms that sales and marketing have been working to a great extent in different silos. In larger organizations and the government this might not be detrimental but in small to medium sized businesses this could be fatal.

So how can we get everyone on the same page? It starts with agreeing on the ideal customer profile or the different buying personas. Persona’s are extremely useful in determining the buying behaviour of market segments and help guide product development and branding decisions. Persona’s put a face on who’s buying your products and or services.

Then you have to decide on the best channels to reach your customers. If you were a bottling machinery manufacturer, your marketing resources would be put to better use if you ran a banner ad on Globalspec, an engineering search and industrial catalogs website, than designing a Facebook landing page.

In most cases, the corporate resource with the least amount of contact with the buyer, the CMO or Chief Marketing Officer, usually leads the process. In my opinion a truly representative alignment would include the buyer in some capacity (the personas developed through marketing research & research and development) and the Sales Director. And by this, I mean a stand-in from another department would give his/her opinion. It might take longer to develop consensus, but all parties have a vested interest that this works.

Whichever opinion that you may be of, bridging the divide will mean that sales and marketing will have to spend more time communicating with each other and not talking “at” one another. Who knows, maybe going to lunch with the marketing guy or going fishing with the sales guy isn’t such a bad thing after all.