Sales–marketing chasm: time’s up

Today companies are searching for every possibility for achieving a competitive advantage. Yet, one potential possibility continues to be underleveraged or neglected – bridging the gap between Marketing and Sales.

As one frustrated VP of Sales once shared – “Our Sales and Marketing departments are like two trains passing in the night.”  The image is striking and stark.  Unfortunately, it is a tale that rings true even in many otherwise well managed companies.

Well, time’s up –  the costs of not fixing this are too high.  Bridging the gap between Marketing and Sales needs to be a priority.  Let’s take a look at four reasons why the collaboration of Marketing and Sales is worth management’s attention.

New Product Launches. Most companies will launch more new products in the next five years than they did in the previous ten.  These products will be expected to produce significant revenue; some may be “bet the company” entries to the market.  Yet history tells a scary tale.  Many good new products are doomed from the beginning because they are not launched successfully to the sales force – they simply escape into the market place.

Companies that have well integrated Marketing and Sales functions are changing that equation.  Not only does Marketing provide their sales force with the basic profiles about the new product – they provide the sales training function the information necessary to customize sales training that is specifically targeted to help the sales force adapt their skills to selling that new product. The model is – learn than launch vs. launch then learn.

Brand Management. Customers are changing what they buy, how they buy and what they are willing to pay for it.  In general more people are engaged in the buying decision than ever before and they are more concerned about economic value.

To this point McKinsey & Co. recently published an interesting report entitled – Five New Responsibilities for Marketing. In the discussion of one of the responsibilities the authors noted – “Gone are the days when all you needed to engage customers was a good agency with a killer campaign. Companies need to design the entire customer experience across every touch point, because it is the total experience that shapes how customers engage with your brand. But no single function owns all those touch points.”

It’s hard to imagine getting this right without a high level of cooperation and collaboration between Marketing and Sales.

Integrated Solutions. Many companies are moving from selling individual products to selling integrated solutions.  But from a sales perspective this is not causal shift. In order to make shift the sales people need new insights on issues such as: value propositions, objections, and updates as to the impact on the customer’s decision process.  In companies that are getting this right the collaboration between marketing and sales starts at the very beginning of the change process.

Micro-Market Analysis. Micro-market analysis is all about identifying sales opportunities by taking a more in-depth look at marketing data and examining factors such as competitive intensity and market attractiveness. But all this granular data analysis work has no payoff if the insights cannot be translated into actions by the sales team.  What does the analysis mean as far as territory design, allocation of sales resources, and the need for new sale skill sets?

McKinsey addressed the potential of micro-market analysis in their new book Sales Growth. The McKinsey authors examined the insights of 120 leading sales leaders.  The executives noted – sales training “assigning resources based on previous demand is quite literally yesterday’s news.”  Micro-market analysis provides the insight to target territories by growth potential versus past performance.  The reported examples of increases in revenue were striking.  But all this doesn’t happen without Marketing and Sales working together.

In many companies for a very long time there has been a lack of meaningful collaboration between Marketing and Sales.  A lot of articles have been written describing the problem and delineating reasons why it occurs.  Well, the time may have arrived to just fix the problem rather than talking about it.

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©2013 Sales Horizons, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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