Have you ever taken part in a three-legged race? In this tricky School Sports Day favourite, forward momentum alone is not the key to success. In fact, the race rarely goes well until the participants are able to synchronise their collective stride. Novices can probably shuffle along at walking pace without tripping, but running at speed takes concentration and a collective commitment to the work at hand.
Team-working in business is not dissimilar. Unless activity is acutely focused, energy and resources are dissipated, because forward momentum alone is not the key to success. In our experience, the recent evolution of Sales and Marketing practices indicates a pressing need for greater integration and synergy. Successful organisations have already adopted a coordinated approach, ensuring that energy and resources are acutely focused on the goal of the ‘signed deal’. A win for both departments.
The bottom line is that a signed deal is a measure of success for both Sales AND Marketing.
In less successful organisations, Sales and Marketing teams work in silos, and too often position themselves as rival factions. Critically, they do not recognise the commonality of their goals, or take the time to understand the challenges and needs of the other side. Poor collaboration can cause marketing messages to become disconnected from both the marketplace and the requirements of the Sales team. On the Sales side, lack of cooperation leads to ineffective Lead and Contact handling, Lead leakage, low Opportunity conversions and deteriorating confidence in the Marketing practice. Clearly this is a lose-lose scenario, and one that organisations of all sizes should work to avoid. Equitable collaboration in communicating both technical and commercial benefits is critical to marketplace success. And responding creatively to customer and prospect business challenges ensures that objection handling is in place to enable new sales and up-selling.
Sales people have a unique skillset. They are warriors in a hostile environment, who thrive when ‘winning’ and not merely surviving the tough competitive onslaught. Revenue targets sometimes seem unachievable, and the pressure to close deals and come up with the next up-sell is immense. Under these conditions, Sales people need all the help, support, encouragement and GTM tools they can get. But old habits die hard. We’ve heard very experienced Sales colleagues over the years joking that the Marketing team were ‘the people who spend their days colouring in with crayons’. In reality, the Marketing discipline has changed beyond recognition, and has become highly technical, analytical, and evidence-based.
When working collaboratively, Marketers can help prepare their champions with carefully crafted questions, excellent value proposition content, elevator pitches, competitive knock-offs, customer case study sound bites ... and more. Marketers are required to have a firm hand on the analytics of the company website, all social media channels, data-driven decision models, continual assessment of the messages that are resonating with customers, prospects and industry analysts. Not to mention high quality content creation and editing skills, and the ability to elicit cooperation and input from the Senior Management team. Effective marketing generates interest in a busy global marketplace, and acquires leads of excellent quality for the Sales team. This drives Sales Funnel growth and the probability of Opportunity conversion.
Sales and Marketing are two sides of the same coin. And if they can synchronise their collective stride, take a fresh look at their working relationship and cultivate a new appreciation of their respective skills and experience, the race can be won.