The differences between sales and marketing within a business were once unquestionably clear. Today the lines are increasingly blurred, and this has lead to a new problem within business: a leadership struggle between sales and marketing.
Both the sales and marketing teams within a business are focused on the generation of revenue.
Marketing takes a long-term focus running campaigns, which range from between three months to 12 months and beyond, and will feed the sales pipeline. Sales, meanwhile, takes a short-term approach, with sales cycles typically lasting no more than three months.
However, an increased focus on ROI, technology and global competitive forces has led businesses to concentrate predominantly on the short-term results at the expense of long-term strategies. This is unsustainable, as the inherent risk here is that future cash flow can suffer and businesses can go broke.
Marking the territory
Traditionally marketers are there to penetrate the market, attract interest, promote unique value and build customer loyalty through various channels to the market.
Conversely, salespeople take the relationship created through the channels and create a conversation between themselves and the prospect, and convert them into a customer.
In recent times, however, with the proliferation and transparency of CRM technology platforms, marketing teams are now under pressure to deliver results within a shorter time frame, and salespeople are now undertaking marketing functions while still being expected to achieve targets and quotas.
Rather than working with each other, sales and marketing teams are aggressively competing with each other, creating a hostile business environment.
Many of the lead generation functions of marketing are being pushed on to business development managers and account managers. While it seems possible to save on headcount budget and other costs, there are very tangible and undesirable consequences.
The success and performance of “salespeople” is dropping, and their tenure within organisations is dropping as well. This affects the bottom line and also costs more in the long-term when it comes to headcount and recruitment budgets.
Salespeople are not marketers, and marketers are not salespeople. The success of a business will rely upon not only giving the right job to the right people, but by clearly understanding, demarcating and defining the roles and responsibilities of two very distinct functions within a business that share a common outcome: growth and revenue generation.
Leading businesses drive a clear demarcation between the sales and marketing functions while simultaneously adopting mutual planning and collaboration, as opposed to competing with each other to perform the same role.
Marketing leadership requires taking customer experiences to innovative levels, understanding insights and leading market management initiatives, which sales people use to their advantage when closing sales and winning new business opportunities.
A business that operates this way is market-oriented: focused on delivering value to the customer in exchange for revenue in return.
Market orientation works best when sales and marketing are integrated at the leadership level, so that there is minimum conflict and increased productivity and output.
How to make change for the better
Here are 10 quick steps you can immediately implement to make your business more market-oriented, to build better collaboration between sales and marketing, and to improve revenue and results:
1. Joint meetings: Hold joint meetings between sales and marketing at least once a quarter to discuss market trends and developments, and what actions need to be taken based on this information.
2. United approach: Have the marketing and sales teams facilitate discussions across the business to identify and examine customers’ future needs.
3. Transparent feedback: Ensure that data on customer satisfaction is collected and disseminated to salespeople on a regular basis.
4. Knowledge share: Foster the open sharing of new market information. When one department discovers something important, they need to be able to alert the other departments.
5. Joint planning: Facilitate structured planning and responses to changes taking place in the business and in the market. The sales and marketing teams should get together periodically to formally develop joint business plans on how they will manage the revenue growth based on this information.
6. Reduce bureaucracy: Remove internal red tape. Instead, focus on and reward delivering to market needs. This will reduce politics and power plays within and among the sales and marketing teams.
7. Shared responsibility: Create a culture of customer satisfaction and shared responsibility, so that when customers are unhappy with the quality of service, both sales and marketing take ownership and corrective action immediately.
8. Continuous integration: Implement active continuous improvement and learning by formally documenting the results of past sales results comprehensively.
9. Full access: Clearly define the current marketing strategies and make them accessible to salespeople.
10. Financial integration: Make it a rule so that marketing plans will form the basis for corporate planning and financial forecasting.
While the blurring of lines between sales and marketing is trending up, business leaders who want sustained, long-term results need to clearly demarcate these functions and facilitate continuous collaboration, and refocus them through a joint common goal around revenue generation.
Kam Ozonaran is the managing director of Marketing Temps.