Marketing and Sales: Let Worlds Collide

At a recent Focus Roundtable on Sales and Marketing alignment (or the lack thereof), we acknowledged the frequently discussed differences between the people who work in sales jobs and the people who work in marketing jobs. Marketing people think of their company’s prospects as a either a homogenous group or grouping of groups (segments), and they communicate with these groups through vehicles that are designed to reach masses of people. Sales people are talented at building 1-on-1 relationships, and communicating person-to-person. Every good sales person knows that if he can just get in front of the prospect, everything will be all right.

Healthy companies need professionals that are good at communicating both with groups and individuals. Why? For one thing, you can’t get in front of enough prospects face-to-face to scale most companies. And, when you do get face-to-face, you have got to be very effective.

The two methods of communicating are very different. Crowds react differently than individuals. If you have any doubt about that, take a look at events in the Middle East, or at least read The Tipping Point.

There is a rush, though, to fix the alignment problem with shared metrics and incentives that are very closely tied to sales, such as qualified, leads, close rates, and bottom-line revenue.

In my experience, shared incentives do help with alignment—but only to an extent. In reality, marketing still needs crowd-related metrics and incentives and sales still needs individual buyer related metrics.

To address the alignment problem head on, I suggest job cross-training and direct collaboration. Assign a sales rep to a team to develop a new content initiative. Send marketing staff to assist on sales calls. Let each see the world of the other, and blur the distinction between the two. In the process, they will appreciate each other’s strengths and talents—and that’s where alignment has to start.

3 Responses to Marketing and Sales: Let Worlds Collide

  1. Frederic Moraillon April 7, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    The distinction has gone on long enough. The two work together at different level of the sales cycle (though it should truly be called the buying cycle.) The division between sales and marketing is unnatural, maybe it’s due to the skills required and the arrogance and egos of both side. I’ve even seen an organization where both VPs couldn’t stand each other. Had I been their boss at the time, I would have told them to grow up and get things done. Too much money is wasted because the two teams believe themselves to serve a different goal.

  2. HENRY PAULINSKI April 7, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    A good marketeer must be able to sell himself to niche markets and a good salesman must know how to market himself to customers

  3. John Gilger April 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    I’m a believer in the iconoclastic destruction of fiefdoms, stove pipes, and any other ego-driven division of a company’s team.

    There is absolutely no reason why people can’t e rotated through all aspects of the customer acquisition process. While it is true that some good sales people would hate to work on the creative end of marketing as copywriters, for instance, they could dictate a sales message for the intern to type up that would beat the socks off some of the “creative” drivel I’ve seen escape from some coompanies.

    While some must talk to the broad market while others nail down the details one-on-one, everyone shaold have the same objective — maximum delivery of product and maximum ROI for the company.

    One could expand David Ogilvy’s quote, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t advertising” to “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t marketiing.”