Can’t Sales and Marketing Just Get Along?

Can’t Sales and Marketing Just Get Along?
Stephanie Tilton - Mon Sep 13, 2010 @ 04:45AM
Comments: 9

It’s no secret – the classic love-hate relationship between sales and marketing groups negatively impacts top-line results. In an interview with Jon Miller earlier this year, fighting dog and catChristine Crandell said: "Telltale signs of misalignment can be seen in industry statistics for B2B sales: 80 percent of leads passed on to sales are dropped; 90 percent of marketing collateral is unused; and the total cost of winning a net new enterprise customer via direct sales carries a hefty price tag averaging $500,000. Even worse, fully 80 percent of enterprise technology deals won are not influenced by marketing at all."

In its report, Closing the Gap: The Sales & Marketing Imperative, the CMO Council states that "many companies worldwide still fall short of realizing aligned sales goals and marketing activities." Here are some highlights of its findings:

  • 56% of sales, marketing and channel management professionals surveyed report that their companies do not yet have any formal programs, systems or processes for unifying sales and marketing.
  • Just 16% of respondents describe their sales and marketing functions as being extremely collaborative

And IDC's 2010 Buyer Experience Study uncovered the following:

  • Over 50% of sales reps are insufficiently prepared for customer meetings
  • 47% of buyers are dissatisfied with the quality and value of information from IT vendors
  • Sales reps are unable to put aside the generic sales pitch to have deeper conversations with their prospects/customers

Why the Gap Still Exists

On the one hand, it seems simple enough to solve this issue: sales and marketing must work together as a team to tee up everything needed to pull in leads, lead them through the buying cycle, and convert them to customers. But the devil, as they say, is in the details.

It can feel overwhelming to come to agreement on everything from what constitutes a lead and what are the top issues to address in marketing messaging to determining at what point a lead should be handed over to sales and how to measure the results. Many corporate cultures don’t support a meeting of the minds between sales and marketing. And without the support of upper management, any valiant attempts to close the gap will likely fizzle out. It also doesn’t help that sales and marketing are driven by vastly different mindsets. Whereas marketing often revolves around a campaign schedule that can be drawn out over months, sales is sweating to meet quota every month. These are just some of the reasons why marketing and sales seem to endlessly butt heads.

Why Workarounds No Longer Work

To date, organizations have found ways to move forward in spite of these barriers. Marketing launches campaigns and generates leads, and sales runs with what it perceives to be the best of them, often leading the prospect to a sale in what marketing perceives to be a renegade manner (e.g., creating their own content and messages, etc.).

But this approach is proving less and less effective as the B2B buying process changes. Now that buyers are in control and sales reps don’t get involved until late in the buying cycle, marketing has taken on a new responsibility – shepherding prospects much further along the path to purchase until they’re finally ready to talk to sales. The sales team often feels left out of the loop and unprepared to continue the conversation when they're finally interacting with leads.

Come Together, Right Now

So what’s the answer? It’s not glamorous, but it’s imperative – sales and marketing must come together to establish a blueprint for success. In a methodical manner, they need to hammer out the processes, messages, and strategies for pulling prospects in and getting them to buy. Those that do – and that stay true to the plan – end up producing better results.

Tap into Expert Insights

I teamed with AG Salesworks to produce an eBook in which we lay out eight steps for getting sales and marketing aligned. In developing the eBook, I interviewed the following industry experts for their insights and recommendations:

NetProspex and AG Salesworks are sponsoring a webinar in which Pete Gracey, President of AG Salesworks, and I will discuss the eBook and share a case study that explains how one company applied the eight steps to better align sales and marketing for increased revenue. To sign up for the webinar and get a copy of the eBook:

Hope to "see" you there!

Update as of September 20: You can now download the eBook. Check it out!

About the author: Stephanie Tilton is a content marketing consultant who helps B2B companies craft content that nurtures leads and advances the buying cycle. You can follow her on Twitter or read more of her posts on SavvyB2B.

Photo credit: by Sephiroty Fiesta

Comments: 9


1. Billy  |  my website   |   Mon Sep 13, 2010 @ 03:52PM

Stephanie, this article cuts right to the core of what I think is the big loss few companies measure, much less act on - the lost opportunities of a cohesive, responsive collaboration of marketing and sales. It's easier to see from the outside how dysfunctional the two departments can be I suppose. Risk aversion, different success metrics, turf control and personalty types may be the cause but the cure is as you describe it.

"In a methodical manner, they need to hammer out the processes, messages, and strategies for pulling prospects in and getting them to buy. Those that do – and that stay true to the plan – end up producing better results.

That eBook sounds very interesting. I will definitely check it out. Thanks!

2. Rob Leavitt  |  my website   |   Mon Sep 13, 2010 @ 05:17PM

Hey Stephanie -- Great post. Ironically, I can't attend the webinar because I'll be at the ISBM Fall Conference on, yes indeed, aligning B2B sales and marketing. Definitely a hot topic. Love to see the ebook, though, and compare notes. This is a huge challenge for companies, especially when you layer in multiple sales and marketing organizations that most large organizations have across regions and business units. And the radical changes happening in both sales and marketing, as you suggest, make both sides more stressed about simply protecting their own turf.

Without having seen your ebook, I'll just suggest two useful bridges:
Sales Enablement or Sales Operations is often a good bridge, since that's right where marketing and sales should meet around common processes, metrics, and tools. IDC is doing some great work on this.

Another way we've found to help bring the two together is around key accounts. When marketing gets serious about focusing on the most strategic accounts (i.e., account-based marketing), there is often a great opportunity to collaborate in limited but effective ways without yet looking at the larger organizational changes that eventually do need to come. Small steps always help!

Anyway, great that you've focused on this; I'll definitely look forward to more.

3. Jeff Ogden  |  my website   |   Tue Sep 14, 2010 @ 01:38AM

Great post, Stephanie. Thanks for sharing it. Companies need to think long and hard about this. I'm sure you have great tips in your ebook and webinar, but I also recommend Switch, the book by the Heath Bros, which talks about change when change is hard. Think elephant, rider and path.

Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
Find New Customers "Lead Generation Made Simple"

4. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Tue Sep 14, 2010 @ 04:40AM

Billy - Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If you're unable to attend the webinar, the eBook will be available next week.

Rob - As you say, lack of alignment is clearly a hot topic these days. Thanks for the suggestions on additional ways to close the gaps. Like you, I look forward to further comparing notes!

Jeff - As you alluded to, it's no small feat to get sales and marketing working together. Thanks for suggesting "Switch" - I need to check it out!

5. khan  |  my website   |   Thu Feb 27, 2014 @ 10:52PM

On the one hand, it seems simple enough to fix this issue: advertising and promotion.

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7. khan   |   Thu Feb 27, 2014 @ 11:01PM

On the one hand, it seems simple enough to fix this issue: advertising and promotion.

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