Marketing And Sales Alignment Or Integration?
I’m fascinated about a lot of the discussion about marketing and sales alignment. Inevitably, the discussion narrows to MQL’s and SQL’s. The alignment discussion inevitably focuses on gaining agreement on the definition and metrics surrounding these two metrics.
Some of the things discussed are, agreement and alignment around the definition of lead quality and lead volume. Usually marketing is saying “sales isn’t following up on our leads, consequently we’re losing lots of opportunity.” Sales takes the position, “The leads we get are crap, just because someone wants a white paper doesn’t mean I should be wasting my time calling them.”
I still see the same old diagrams, the marketing funnel and the sales funnel, with the marketing funnel feeding the sales funnel.
Essentially, these discussions reduce down to agreeing on the size of the window in the brick wall between sales and marketing.
While this agreement is important, I think we miss opportunities in aligning around how our customers buy.
Our marketing and sales funnels basically identify our workflows in marketing and sales activities. Continuing to look at these sequentially, defines our workflows as sequential–marketing does its thing, leads are passed through the window in the wall, then sales does its thing.
The buying and informational activities our customers undertake aren’t necessarily aligned with our marketing and sales funnels/workflow. To be effective in engaging our customers in buying, we need to look at our marketing and sales workflows differently, integrating marketing and sales rather than aligning them.
It seems we do better by aligning our marketing and sales workflow around models of the customer buying process and workflow. In doing this, we engage the customer most effectively and impactfully. We deploy the right resources (marketing/sales/other) at the right time and in the right way to help the customer buy.
In designing an integrated marketing and sales workflow, we have must clearly define roles and responsibilities. We must work truly collaboratively. Our metrics are broader and more aligned not just agreement on MQL and SQL. Our organizational structure is more reflective of how our customers buy, rather than the meaningless silos that exist today.
In a truly integrated marketing and sales workflow, sales may initiate the process by engaging customers with insight. Customers may then leverage content or experiences developed by marketing to enrich their understanding of the issues, alternatives and possibilities presented by change. Sales may re-engage at a point where the customer needs that direct interaction. Marketing doesn’t stop, they provide content, materials, and tools to support both sales and the customer later in their buying process, ultimately helping them make a vendor decision.
Today, marketing and sales looks a lot like an Olympic relay. Marketing starts, then hands off the baton to sales to finish. In an integrated marketing and sales design, it looks a lot like a basketball team, with each person on the team knowing their role, with clearly defined plays. But like the basketball team, an integrated marketing and sales function enables us to be adaptable and nimble. This nimble marketing and sales team can change, based on the way the customer changes–“passing the ball” from one to the other to most effectively achieve the goal.
If we want to engage the customer most impactfully and effectively, we need to stop looking at marketing and sales alignment, and start talking more about marketing and sales integration.
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