Tension has existed between sales and marketing since the early formation of the disciplines within a corporate setting. However, in the past decade or so, both sales and marketing in organizations big and small, have come to appreciate the value that each discipline brings to the party. Successful businesses have come to learn that by focusing on the alignment of sales and marketing, management has come to learn that greater efficiencies, productivity and overall business performance can be achieved. By aligning sales and marketing, and putting in place the proper metrics, both disciplines can be held accountable for shared goals. The challenge comes in achieving alignment.
Before delving into the process of creating sales and marketing alignment, let’s first review the benefits that can be derived from alignment.
Benefits of Achieving Alignment
- Improvement in both the quality and quantity of sales leads.
- Sales cycles are shortened.
- Sales forecasts become more accurate.
- Sales force becomes more accountable for performance.
- Sales and Marketing tend to collaborate more on developing customer-centric solutions.
- Marketing becomes accountable for top and bottom line results.
- Cost of sales are reduced.
- Growth in revenue and market share.
- Customer needs are better satisfied.
What do the experts have to say about sales & marketing alignment?
In the spring of 2006, Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham and Suj Krishnaswamy published an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing. The article identified the issues standing in the way of alignment and offered practical steps to creating an environment where sales and marketing teams can come together to effectively support the growth objectives of the enterprise. And yet, now better than a decade from the publication of this article, finger pointing still goes on.
From Sales we hear: “Marketing continues to deliver un-qualified leads.”
From Marketing we hear: “The sales force just doesn’t get it. They are constantly focusing on ‘price’, rather than the value proposition that our product/service offering brings to the market.”
Assessing Sales & Marketing Alignment
As a first step in determining whether or not an organization is in need of aligning the disciplines of sales and marketing, first ask the following 10 questions.
- Does Sales & Marketing meet routinely to discuss customer and/or market issues/opportunities?
- Is marketing responsible for delivering topline revenue growth for the enterprise?
- Is there a process in place for delivering qualified leads to the sales organization?
- Does your organization have a process for resolving conflict between sales and marketing?
- Does the leadership of both Sales and Marketing report to the same senior executive in the organization?
- Is there duplication of effort between Sales & Marketing? Where does overlap exist?
- Does the organization have a complex consultative selling process or are the products/service fairly simple and commoditized?
- Are both Sales & Marketing involved in product planning and establishing sales targets?
- Are both Sales & Marketing involved in discussions to address customer needs?
- Are both Sales & Marketing involved in the sign-off of advertising and marketing communications materials?
The alignment of Sales & Marketing can pay big dividends particularly if the enterprise is of a size that a considerable investment has been made in financial and human resources to support both disciplines. And too, for those organizations of size, particularly in the B2B space, alignment of Sales & Marketing can begin to focus resources on revenue generating initiatives while holding both Sales, as well as Marketing accountable for shared revenue targets. Like anything that is worth doing, creating alignment with Sales & Marketing is not necessarily easy, but the dividends can be significant.
For more information on how your organization can benefit from greater alignment of sales and marketing, contact us at Parisien & Associates for a free consultation.