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Blurred Lines – Marketing and Sales Integration

Author: Jim McCaul
Posted: August 27, 2013
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A recent study from The Executive Board revealed that on average, customers progress nearly 60% of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging a sales rep. Effective sales teams require marketing campaigns which generate leads, and marketing efforts are often wasted if the sales team cannot effectively close a deal. Unfortunately, this dependency does not always equate to a successful partnership between the two groups. 


Join DMAI Executive Vice President Victoria Isley at the 2013 Marketing Outlook Forum:  A Global Perspective, October 28-30, to learn how destination teams are building bridges and tearing down walls to generate new convention and meetings business. Victoria will be leading the session entitled, “Bridging the Great Divide – the Fine Art of Integrating Marketing, Sales, Service & Data to Crack the Meetings Market.” Attendees will have the opportunity to take back real-life examples of how cross-functional teams are building trust, collaborating to overcome objections, nurturing new business and winning in an environment when helping trumps selling.  

Don’t miss out on this and many other educational sessions intended to aid you in business development and forward looking marketing. If you are interested in attending and networking with your peers and colleagues as you gain valuable industry insights, here’s your chance to save $100 off registration. Register today and take advantage of the DMAI promo code 100DMAISAVE.

In the meantime, here are six strategies from Forbes that successful companies use to make the marketing-sales marriage work:

Design marketing and sales responsibilities around the customer buying process
Marketing and sales should be organized around the steps that the customer goes through to become exposed to, build knowledge about, form purchase intentions for, and ultimately purchase the company’s products and/or services. These steps will vary for each company depending on the nature of the product/service, competition, and the industry. Outline these steps and then assign marketing and sales responsibilities at each stage. This way both functions work together to meet the customer needs during each stage and support the customer’s progress to the next.
Create a unified focus on the most valuable customers
One reason marketing and sales do not lock arms in companies is because the company has not focused their joint attention on the most valuable customers. Sales people need to meet their quotas and if those quotas don’t include the company’s most valuable customer, sales will not be prospecting or acquiring the right customers. Marketing can help identify these customers, develop materials to do so, and service sales as it closes these deals. This priority can help facilitate cooperation and create a unifying objective for the two.
Organize around the customer, not the function
Most executives likely agree that there is too much focus on turf and not enough on the customer. There are a number of ways that companies can organize around the customer. One is to create customer groups and not product groups. This puts marketing and sales together into groups to serve segments of customers. Marketing and sales can be split into upstream and downstream customer teams with attention to different aspects of the lead management process. The idea puts the function the employee represents into the background while bringing the activities and purpose of that function into the foreground. This aligns all efforts to better serve the customer and limits finger pointing, power games, and turf wars.
Integrate customer information
When marketers and sales people know different things about the customer, strategy is weakened. Both functions have different customer experiences, so it is inevitable that they develop unique and varying insights. Ideally, these unique sources of insight would be shared across the two groups. However, because this rarely happens organically, effective companies actively manage the sharing of customer data. Salespeople, in particular, have an enormous amount of unfiltered customer exposure. Finding ways to systematically gather this information in a low-cost manner can offer important insights. Sharing databases and co-locating sales and marketing people are two other ways to facilitate this type of interaction.
Require job rotations
Many individuals who enter marketing leadership programs spend 6 to 12 months in a sales role. If marketing is going to help sales, it is good to understand the salesperson’s experience, first hand.  Although less common in most companies, asking salespeople to spend time in marketing could also facilitate cross-fertilization and integration.
Establish individual and shared incentives
Binding marketing and sales together with shared incentives can help pull the organization in one direction. For example, rewarding both functions for converting leads aligns marketing’s efforts with sales’ goals and ensures that sales acts on marketing’s lead-creation activities. However, be careful to not tie all of marketing’s incentives to sales’ performance or vice versa, otherwise a loss of control can create its own stress.