Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When Sales and Marketing Collide

Hello There!

I hope all is well with you and you're having an excellent week so far!  I've been running around as I am sure you have been, too.  There's a certain excitement and electricity in the air -- people are still very much concerned about the economy, rightfully so, but I'm also sensing a willingness for people to dip their proverbial toes into the pool.  It's long overdue!

With that in mind, it seems to me that it's never been more critical to make sure that our sales and marketing teams support and understand one another.  Our job as marketers and sales people is to deliver solutions in ways meaningful to the customer.  The delivery method may differ (or not) based on our role as marketer or salesperson but the fundamental mission is the same.  We provide solutions.  We fix stuff.

I read a research synopsis posted on MarketingProfs which caught my eye.  Essentially, it said the following:
  • Salespeople feel that there is no compelling differentiator between their offerings and the competition's. Only 38% of those surveyed felt that there was a compelling value story to tell to their current customers and prospects.  
  • Salespeople don't find the tools developed by their marketing peers to be helpful to "close" the sale.  About 75% of salespeople will revise the material to suit their needs.
  • Finally, salespeople don't feel like they are given the training and support they need from managers especially as it pertains to differentiating their products from the competition.
Oh, dear.  This is (sadly) not surprising to me as it underscores the internal branding and external branding disconnect we talked about previously.  If our salespeople aren't owning the message, how can our customers and our prospects?  Seems to be a tough nut to crack, huh?  Well, consider these:
  • It's easy for us to forget that we have multiple customers: inside the company and outside the company.  Both of which have expectations which we should be exceeding.  There's no point in trying to close external sales if we can't seem to close our internal ones.  We have to understand and accept that marketers fail salespeople when salespeople don't know what to say when someone asks "How are you different from Company X?"  
  • And before salespeople reading this missive get too excited and say, "See! Marketers aren't closing me so it's their fault!" this goes both ways.  Salespeople have an onus to own the brand / product promise, too.  If they don't believe in it or understand it, they can't sell it.  
It's clearly not enough to fulfill our roles like robots -- we each have a stake in the other's success hence the concept of inside and outside customers.  More specifically, it's not enough for salespeople to be told the romance of the brand / product or told that a new sales tool is the greatest thing since sliced bread and, similarly, it's not enough for the salespeople to not probe further. 
    How do we work our way out of this?  Cohesiveness and symbiotic relationships.  We'll cover this in the next post.



    1 comment:

    1. Hi Parissa,
      This is a great article that will open for many great discussions. I hopefully can share my experience regarding this issue based on my experience in doing marketing and sales for myself and 40 companies that I helped ranging from small businesses (revenue $100,000 a year) to somewhat medium companies (revenue $100 million/year).

      I always make a distinction between marketing and sales. Marketing for me is a lead generation process where the goal is to bring many prospects into our doors. Who would be the ideal prospects and clients? Where are they? What problems they are facing and what offers and solutions can we offer?

      Why are we different with our competitors? What is our Unique Selling Propositions and Guarantees?When will be the right time to market and How are we going to do this?

      So Marketing, I think it should be target marketing, identifying Who, Where, What, Why, When and How?

      What lead generation strategies, both pull and push can I do to get more qualified leads?

      Sales on the other hand is the conversion process from a lead to a client/customer. I usually work with their belief systems. What is the definition of sales,salesman and money to them?

      Do they think negatively about the ideas of being a salesman and the idea of money. Do they think themselves as " professionally helping other people to buy" or "trying to make a quick buck".

      With money, do they think that it is "an idea backed by confidence" or "money is the roots of all evil."

      Once they get their beliefs right, then usually the techiques will start to work. Beliefs will make the sales people to take ownership of their own life and not lay, blame and justify.

      So I agree with you that needs to be alignment and congruency between sales and marketing, it's just I feel that many academics are too content oriented and not looking deeper into emotions.

      I am a Business Coach and I work with over 40 businesses for the last 4 years. I do this stuff everyday so I speak both from experience and learning from other practitioners.

      Class of 1994