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Getting Marketing And Sales Together

by David Brock on March 3rd, 2012

I commented on the results reported in IBM’s outstanding  survey of CMO’s.  The absence of concern about aligning and working with sales was alarming.  It generated a lot of discussion an comments.  My friend Bob Thompson at CustomerThink commented that absent anything else it would take 10-20 years for marketing and sales to get aligned.  He suggested the only other alternative was a strong CEO, taking action to align the functions.

I agree with Bob–perhaps I am more pessimistic.  The wall that’s existed between sales and marketing probably dates back to the formation of the first sales and marketing departments.  Each has had a different function, each has performed those functions.  Executive running sales and marketing focus on optimizing the performance of their own organizations.

In truth, marketing and sales have worked together, though not always in sync or in total alignment.  But absent any stronger incentive, it’s highly unlikely that on their own inertia, sales and marketing will ever get better aligned—it’s natural, each has differing goals and objectives.  Each is focused on achieving those goals in the best way possible–for them.

Another reader commented on the wasted resources and money resulting from the lack of alignment between sales and marketing.  This is a critical issue.  As long as marketing and sales aren’t aligned, aren’t working hand in hand, they can’t optimize their impact with the customer.  The investments made in both sales and marketing will not create the return they might.  It’s kind of like 2+2= 3, when if integrated and aligned it might be 5 or 6.

So what’s going to get sales and marketing together?  Does it take a visionary CEO to understand the organizations need to be aligned, they need to share common goals, measurements, and rewards?  That’s great, if that happens.  Historically, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence for that.

I don’t want to overstate the problem.  There are many leading organizations taking major steps in aligning sales and marketing. They’re seeing tremendous results.  But they are the exception.

I actually think sales and marketing will start getting aligned and integrated more quickly.  The forcing function for the alignment will be the customer–the markets.  Customers will no longer accept or respond to differing messages, disparate conversations, clumsy engagements.  Customers will not waste their time—it’s too precious, they can spend it and their money in better ways.

Customers don’t differentiate between our marketing programs and sales programs.  They want a seamless customer experience.  Customers will respond to those organizations creating the best buying experience–through the life cycle of that experience.

Marketing and sales will align out of survival.  If customers are buying from companies that have an integrated and aligned customer buying experience–then out of survival, marketing and sales will start working more effectively together.

Don’t wait for the customer to vote with their pocketbooks.  Customer experience matters.  Drive alignment between marketing and sales in your organizations.  Align your goals, align your programs, align your metrics.  Look at how your customer engagement process–not just from the point of view of marketing, or sales, but look at the total customer experience.

Design your marketing and sales programs to optimize that experience.  Take a leadership position.

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