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Marketing And Sales–Inseparable

by David Brock on March 1st, 2012

I just read the IBM 2011 Global CMO Marketing Study.  It’s a fascinating report, based on in-depth interviews with more than 1700 CMO’s worldwide.  It’s a must read for any sales and marketing professional.

As I devoured the 72 page report, something struck me—where’s sales?  In a discussion of critical issues facing CMO’s there was no discussion of the Sales Function or how Sales and Marketing need to work together.  I wondered if I missed something, so I searched on the words “sales, sale.”  Those words occurred 23 times in the 72 page report.  Two times in the title of someone quoted, one time referring to campaigns, two times referring to data, sixteen times indicating revenue, and two times referring to the sales organization.

The CMO’s stated their four biggest challenges are:  Explosion of Data, Social Media, Proliferation of Channels and Devices, and Shifting Consumer Demographics.

Where is Sales?  Where do CMO’s talk about the Sales Function or the importance of Sales and Marketing aligning to maximize their impact on revenue generation?

I reread the report three times, thinking I had to miss something.  I didn’t.  Apparently the sales function and organization is not on the radar screens of these 1700 CMO’s.

For some time, I’ve been evangelizing the concept of sales and marketing integration.  As we look at the new world of buying, we find that sales and marketing processes must be tightly integrated and aligned to maximize impact on customers.  As we look at Challenger Sales, the new customer engagement, the importance of social selling, rich content, and so many other things; sales and marketing are becoming inseparable.

Yet this doesn’t come up at all in the concerns of CMO’s from around the world.  How can any CMO ignore the role of sales in impacting their own effectiveness? 

As bad a picture as it paints, at least we start understanding the magnitude of the disconnect between sales and marketing.  For each of us to be focused on maximizing our impact in our markets, for each of us to be seeking to engage our customers in meaningful ways, for each of us to contribute to the revenue and share growth of our organizations, we must depend on the other.  We are wasting money, resources, and customer equity by working separately or, at worst, with conflicting objectives.

The new buyer is changing all the rules.  The new buyer is telling us, sales and marketing, that they want something different from us–in how we educate and inform them, how we engage them, and how we help them achieve their goals.  They are demanding value, but how can we maximize our value if the right hand (marketing) and the left hand (sales) aren’t working in lock step.

It seems that before our organizations can maximize our impact on customers, we must first learn how to work together, knocking down the walls between organizations, aligning ourselves, our goals, our programs, presenting a single face to the customers.  What is unstated in the survey, but implied by it’s absence is the single biggest problem for sales and marketing executives is their inability to work with each other.  Until, we focus on this problem, until marketing and sales become inseparable, until our processes are so intertwined, until we can complete each other’s sentences, we will never maximize our impact on our markets and customers.

I’m looking forward to IBM’s 2012 survey of CMO’s.  I hope this comes up as an issue in that report.  If it doesn’t, then perhaps the 73% of CEO’s who are dissatisfied with the performance of their CMO’s may take action.


  1. Spot on! It was strange indeed that this critical aspect of marketing and sales collaboration and tighter integration was missing in the IBM study.

    I am led to believe that this is reflective of IBMs portfolio (ref. recent acquisitions) which is more focused on B2C companies vs. B2B companies (where the need for tighter marketing and sales integration is more frequently discussed.) As I noticed, most of the quotes in the study do come from consumer-focused industries like financial svcs, hospitality, telecommunications supporting my assumption.

    Regardless, greater sales and marketing alignment is a key issue glaringly missing in the otherwise nice study.

    – Vinay Iyer, co-author ‘The Customer Experience Edge’

    • Vinay, thanks for joining the discussion. I tend to agree with you, overall the study was outstanding. It did seem to have a strong B2C bias. They mentioned 48 of the top 100 in Interbrands’s rankings participated–I’d assume it’s their Retail Brand Report, though 21% of the participants were in industrial companies. It’s also interesting that 44% of the respondents were from Growth Markets (Non US, Europe, Japan)–though I’m not sure what conclusions I’d draw from that.

      Despite that, while sales/marketing integration may not be at the top of their hit parade, it’s absence is still glaring. I wonder what the responses would be if there were a similar study of Sales Execs?

      In any case, I think it points out that we have a long way to go in aligning the functions to maximize revenue performance.

      Vinay, thanks for the comment. It is flattering to see you join the conversation. Regards, Dave

  2. Love your comments and as a past sales professional and a current online social marketing strategist, this disconnect HAS to be one of the most expensive disconnects in business culture.

    I’ve asked several VP and CMO about how they support sales and what I usually get is a deer in the headlights look and a shuffle off to the next discussion.

    I’d have to think long & hard about when I ever saw these two business functions working hand in hand.

    • Steven, thanks for the comment. You are absolutely correct! It is a very expensive disconnect–both in operational expense and in opportunity costs (read confused and pissed off customers). I have seen areas where they do work together, but it’s not the norm. However, I think it is critical to success–watch this space, I’m coming up with another post on this in the next day or so!

      Thanks for joining the discussion!

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