Sales Trend 4 – Sales and marketing unite

Sales Trend 4 of Barrett’s 12 Sales Trends for 2016 is: Sales and marketing unite.

For too many years there have been various degrees of finger-pointing and strained relations between sales and marketing departments and in too many cases, open hostility.

The “us and them” approach has kept these two important disciplines at arms’ length from each other. This undoubtedly diminishes the power and potential of their united efforts.

Management has long called for sales and marketing to bury the hatchet but the requests often lack urgency and are generally met with indifference.

With shrinking markets, micro segments, more informed buyers and the digital revolution to name a few key influences, smart companies know that the sibling rivalry between sales and marketing must end if they are to steal the march on their competitors, win market share and engage the right kind of buyers.

David Hubbard, an expert in revenue growth and sales and marketing strategies, says that getting sales and marketing departments in the same room, playing nice, getting along, and cooperating, is definitely a step in the right direction. However, the cold reality is:

  • Harmony is not teamwork;
  • Cordial co-operation is not collaboration;
  • Passing leads between marketing and sales is not alignment; and
  • These types of meetings do not help everyone meet their prevailing job goals.

This sales trend looks at how smart sales and marketing teams are working in collaboration. They recognise they cannot function effectively without the other working in concert with them.

So what are smart businesses doing, based upon published research and customer case studies?

  • Sales and marketing alignment involves many things including shared goals, common milestones and metrics, well-oiled business processes, and smart technology investments. The marketing and sales teams agree to a common objective that will result in each department achieving their functional and personal goals.
  • They focus their combined skills and energy to move potential leads, cost-effectively through the buyer’s purchasing process, to become a happy customer. It begins by measuring what percentage of marketing-generated leads actually become a sales lead as part of the official sales pipeline report, that actually become sales opportunities as part of the official sales forecast report, and that actually become a closed deal as part of the sales win/loss report.

However, this alignment and sharing of a common objective cannot occur without understanding the difference between sales and marketing strategies.

Sales Strategy is how the business organises its sales efforts across the value chain to go to market, who you are going to sell to and how to create real value within the given market place with customers.

Sales is about one-to-one where the business becomes real for the client. Sales develops relationships and looks after individuals. Sales deals with the ambiguities and analyses the behaviour of the prospects and customers with whom they deal with on an individual basis.

Sales professionals talk to their customers about effective offerings that help them realise their goals and objectives.

Sales moves away from discussing price and discounts, instead replacing these with discussions about total cost of ownership. This includes price but extends to include deliveries, warranties, support, training and the other contributing things that are delivered as part of the purchase.

Marketing Strategy is how the business tells the stories (company, product, etc.) to many people. Marketing talks to groups and looks after the brand’s reputation and keeps the stories circulating and resonating with the target markets using the company’s plumb line (the business of the business) as its central reference.

Marketing analyses the big data and brings the average result not the specifics. Marketing studies what experience customers expect when they buy or try a product, service or solution.

That means reading their digital footprint and understanding their on-line chatter as much as it does focus group discussions.

Marketing should not promote special prices/discounts but instead replace these with special offers focusing on delivering real value.

When sales and marketing teams build effective strategies that are aligned, share common goals and communication is open and flowing then the results are outstanding.

The results are:

  • Marketing can claim that they directly contributed “40% +” of the company’s total new business revenue (with improved marketing ROI);
  • Sales can claim that they increased closed sales revenue by “30%+” (with increased sales per headcount); and
  • The CEO can demonstrate they grew revenue “20%+” faster (with better profitability) than their peers, simply due to having better organisational alignment between sales and marketing.

Imagine what could happen if a company went beyond basic alignment to become fully strategically aligned? If it went beyond basic collaboration to empowered collaboration?

Smart companies do not accept or tolerate silos or war-like behaviour. That is not the way of the future. Instead, smart companies expect unity, empowered collaboration, role clarity underpinned by strategic alignment, working towards a common purpose.

Their aim by uniting sales and marketing is to become an unbeatable powerhouse.

Will that be your company or your competitor?

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is the founder and CEO of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform Sue was the first in Australia to get Selling a university qualification and has written more than 600 blog posts and 21 e-books on sales and with her team produces the ‘must read’ Annual 12 Sales Trends Report.

Striving for better sales practices and improving sales teams and operations, Sue is a Sales Philosopher, Activist, Strategist, Speaker, Trainer and Adviser. Get to know her further on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.


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