Step 1: Sales misses forecasts…says the quality and quantity of leads sent by marketing are useless.

Step 2: Marketing says the leads are being ignored or not nurtured properly.

Step 3: Repeat process until forecast and revenue projections are so detached from reality that the CEO gets involved.  Fire the poor producers, replace the Sales VP, get some more sales people.

The departments continue to bicker, and increased pressure and layoffs creates more tension between the two. Sales blames marketing for their coworkers being let go. Marketing’s budget eliminates branding activities and everything gets focused on demand generation.

It’s unlikely that sales are dissolving because of staff shortfalls. But more likely the marketing strategy and sales methodology have not adjusted to changes in customers and their purchasing process.  Buyers prioritize relationships and trust over product and price.

Buying a computer used to be as confusing and distasteful as buying a car at a dealership, but the experience has dramatically changed into something much more pleasant. Why the difference?

The legacy infrastructure of the automotive industry segregated sales and marketing.  The buying experience was driven by different companies with different priorities and cultures. That’s the way it was in the computer industry, too, until manufacturers like Dell and later on especially Apple entered retail. They integrated from factory to point of sale to the extent that it’s not possible to genuinely distinguish where marketing ends and sales begin. That reflects and ripples out an enormous change in customer expectations—one that every industry can benefit to pay attention.

It should go without saying that customers these days are too mobile, too connected, and too informed to tolerate any gap between what one department says and another does. This means that companies intending to compete can’t allow sales and marketing to operate in different spheres.

Today’s B2B buyers have unprecedented access to information both from and about their suppliers.  One result is that sales no longer chaperones them through their purchasing process like they did before.  Buyers instead go through a self-directed, often anonymous process of product review and comparison.  It’s nonetheless a process that the vendor can affect and enable. Buyers do still contact sales to establish a relationship, test their chemistry and see if they can trust the vendor.

Want to align marketing and sales? Align them both with the customer.

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