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Selling Power Magazine Article
• Successful companies enjoy twenty percent average growth in annual revenue, as compared to a 4 percent average decrease among laggard companies.
• Forty-seven percent of their sales forecasts are generated by marketing, as compared to an average 5 percent among laggard companies.
Aberdeen’s survey underlines the fact that sales and marketing alignment isn’t a cakewalk; it requires a lot of work. Best-in-class companies spend more time defining a qualified lead, work harder at creating a mutual understanding of lead management activities, and achieve a greater understanding of each other’s goals.
Each year, when CSO Insights surveys more than 1,800 sales organizations, research results indicate that many sales and marketing organizations are operating in separate silos. According this year’s survey results, there are 10 obstacles that stand in the way of sales and marketing alignment.
1. The CEO does not insist on unified reporting on the company’s sales pipeline. Most CEOs don’t know that marketing software can be seamlessly integrated with CRM. The solution: Educate your CEO.
2. Salespeople complain that the sales leads marketing generates are useless. The solution: A) Have marketing spend a day in the field with salespeople, and B) spend an hour clearly defining what a lead is.
3. Marketing team members believe they know what’s best for the sales force. The solution: Task sales and marketing with establishing a shared-responsibility model for pipeline dynamics.
4. Salespeople try to reduce complexity; marketing people tend to move in the opposite direction. At the end of a sales call, salespeople want their prospects to say yes. Marketing tries to find new ways to presell prospects through a mix of stories and messages that resonate in the prospect’s mind. A simple solution: Let your customers tell the story in person, online, and on social media.
5. Sales and marketing can’t agree on the barriers they face. In many instances, the barriers are self-imposed. For example, one company decided to bundle solutions. The advertising campaign was a success, sales-training scores were high, but the initiative failed because salespeople earned higher commissions by selling individual units.
6. Both sales and marketing lose track of how customers buy. Sales managers cling to sales models that worked in the past, and marketing managers feed into the established but obsolete sales process. The solution: Align the sales process with the customer’s buying process.
7. The value proposition lacks clarity. When you have few customers, it’s hard to define customer value. When you have many customers, each market segment values your solution differently. The solution: Spend a day with customers and listen to what they value.
8. Sales and marketing don’t speak the same language. Salespeople are concerned with making quota; marketing managers are concerned with making an impression. The solution: Agree on a common vocabulary, and align priorities.
9. There is an inability within the company to agree on the best tactics and winning strategies. Chief sales officers are preoccupied with getting better leads into the pipeline to drive up sales. Marketing managers are often sidetracked by such shiny objects as new technology, building online communities, creating messages, analyzing the competition, etc. The solution: Create a culture of measurement in which each process is governed by analytics.
10. Sales and marketing managers tend to forget their mission. In the heat of battle, we tend to forget the noble purpose of our company. Author and management consultant Peter Drucker once said, “The purpose of business is to create a customer.” To accelerate sales and marketing alignment, we need to remember who signs our paychecks: our customer. This is a good enough reason to take the initiative, reach out to your counterpart, and align sales and marketing around your company’s original mission and vision. –
– Geoffrey James
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