By Phil Brown, The Channel Partnership
The relationship between sales and marketing departments is often perceived as a fraught one — marked by feelings of suspicion, misunderstanding and attempts to shift blame. However, with the economy remaining weak and predictions not looking positive for the year ahead, sales and marketing teams need to start working in unison, otherwise businesses will continue to struggle.
We recently conducted some research in partnership with The Leadership Foundation with 1,000 sales and marketing professionals (50:50 split) in B2B organisations to understand the dynamics of the sales and marketing relationship and produced a report, “Sales and Marketing: Best of enemies or sworn friends?”.
The report found that just one in five sales and marketing professionals believe that the activities of their respective teams are fully aligned and one in ten believing they are not aligned at all.
Whilst most business people will agree sales and marketing are often seen as very different animals, their purpose within an organisation is the same — to generate more customers and increased revenues. Without a collaborative approach to winning business, companies may find it hard to survive. Only those that have a fully aligned sales and marketing approach will stand a chance of grabbing market share.
Our research revealed that although sales and marketing teams often had similar views of the value of different marketing activities, there are many issues which prevent organisations from creating and executing fully aligned and integrated go-to-market programmes. 57% of respondents claimed that a lack of a cohesive strategy was the source of the problems with their organisation’s go-to-market approach.
They also said that less than two-thirds of marketing activity was part of a long-term plan, and that more than a third was unplanned and reactive. Almost a third felt that marketing activities were driven by short term goals and admitted that around a third of planned marketing activity doesn’t ever get implemented — so ends up being a complete waste of time and money.
Two thirds of respondents said the gulf between marketing and sales teams stems from the fact they have different targets and objectives. Also nearly two-thirds felt that political conflict between senior managers was a cause of disconnect between the teams. Poor communication between departments, a failure to value each other’s contribution to the business, and lack of understanding of each other’s roles were also highlighted as issues by more than half of respondents.
These issues and conflicts can undermine the go-to-market efforts of any organisation and is something that companies must address now. Companies need to be building integrated marketing plans that are jointly developed and owned by both teams to ensure that everyone is working to a common set of objectives and targets, and that everybody understands each other’s role and value. Failure to do this often results in the sorts of issues our research highlighted — lack of alignment, political conflict and mutual suspicion.
One of the main issues, according to sales people, is they believe marketers don’t spend enough time talking to customers and so don’t understand how their products or services create value for them.
We also found that half of sales executive said that marketers lack understanding of the sales role and equally, over half think the marketing team don’t understand what the sales team needs to be successful. 48% claimed that marketers also lack commercial awareness.
It’s not all negative however, as sales people do value many marketing activities. A wide range of marketing activities were rated as ‘valuable’ by at least two-thirds of salespeople, including building brand awareness (83%), generating sales leads (83%), developing compelling propositions (81%), and providing market insight (81%), which suggests that the commonly held view that sales people don’t value marketing is overstated.
So what can be done to restore harmony? As we begin the new year, it is crucial that businesses align their marketing and sales activities. Selling complex solutions to business customers is rarely a straightforward process. It usually requires a multi-faceted go-to-market approach, and it’s vital that every element works together to deliver a clear and compelling message.
Whilst our research suggests there are some major conflicts to resolve, sales and marketing are on the same side, and senior managers have an obligation to ensure that they are working as an effective single team in order to maximise their chances of success. Those organisations that are able to deliver a fully aligned go-to-market approach will have the best chances of driving profitable growth next year, despite the gloomy economic outlook.
To read the full report visit: http://thechannelpartnership.co.uk/resources/sales-and-marketing–best-of-enemies-or-sworn-friends-
About The Channel Partnership
The Channel Partnership specialises in helping B2B technology companies plan and deliver integrated go-to-market programmes that drive profitable growth. They have delivered successful results for a range of clients in the ICT sectors, including Symantec, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, Telstra, Sanyo, Tools Group, Admiralty and AboveNet.
The Channel Partnership’s end-to-end capabilities, from strategic planning through to market positioning and demand generation, help clients succeed, by ensuring that all go-to-market activities are fully aligned and highly effective. They have a particular focus on channel enablement and ensure that everyone is working to the same plan, with an experienced team that understand how channels operate and what they require to be successful.