In every organization there is a degree of conflict between marketing and sales.
Marketing complains that sales don’t move products or services effectively; sales claims they don’t get the support from marketing they need to do the job.
Marketing says that certain sales activity is off strategy; sales responds by criticizing that marketing doesn’t provide clear enough direction.
Around and around it goes.
A certain amount of this dance is healthy; too much, however, and it’s dysfunctional and can adversely impact organizational performance.
These 6 actions will help link marketing and sales in harmony.
Clarify the roles of each party
Marketing sets strategy; sales executes it. Sales is a channel to market; setting the channel strategy — i.e. what channel sells what product — is the responsibility of marketing.
Sales has no formal role in setting overall market direction other than providing input as the frontline customer facing team.
It’s critical that all align with these roles otherwise dysfunction occurs as groups trip over each other and little constructive gets done.
If there are issues about who does what, escalate to the highest level in the organization to get resolution.
Develop a detailed marketing plan
The marketing plan must have sufficient granularity for sales to create their sales plan incorporating the strategy focus and priorities they must carry out.
This is often a major issue where the marketing plan lacks the clarity required to define the specific actions sales must take to execute successfully.
Without absolute clear translation for sales they will be forced to make their own interpretation of what marketing expects.
This puts sales in a quasi-planning role for which they are not responsible nor ill equipped to play.
Engage sales in setting the overall revenue target
This does not mean sales has a decision making role in setting the target; this is the responsibility of marketing.
Sales, however, should be looked to provide critical input on the available revenue potential and decide how it should be allocated at the customer level.
In addition, should there be any shortfall between the tops down marketing driven revenue target and bottoms up sales driven quota — and there always is — sales should decide how the difference will be allocated among customer groups and specific customers.
Implement an internal report card
The “report card” is a vehicle that allows marketing and sales to review and rate one another in terms of how well each function supports and meets the needs of the other.
The process is simple: marketing defines their 6 critical needs of sales who, in turn, outline what they expect of marketing.
Every 6 months report cards are exchanged and each side rates the other — ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘F’ rating — on each support item.
Results are analyzed and actions taken by both sides to address where performance has fallen short of expectations.
Jointly review revenue results monthly
Joint action planning based on results against monthly revenue objectives will solidify and direct the relationship to enhance performance.
Name calling is reduced and energy directed to resolving issues rather than blaming the other side for any performance glitch.
I mandated that these sessions be formally planned and would drop in unannounced to witness the proceedings and ask questions that challenged how well the team was working together. It became an integral part of “how things were done around here”.
Celebrate achievements together — good or bad
You either make it together or you fail together. There is no finger pointing, only sharing. Remarkable teams are created by jointly owning performance results.
As president of the organization I hosted quarterly performance celebrations between the two groups. We reviewed the successes — and recognized the heroes — and shortcomings — and what was learned through the process.
We tried to recognize groups of individuals with a mix of marketing and sales to further the notion of teamwork.
At the end of the day, aligning marketing and sales is not good enough.
They need to be “joined at the hip” in order to deliver the high level of performance every organization expects.
Leadership needs to be engaged to make it happen otherwise nothing will change and mutual distrust will continue.
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