Marketing about sales: “We are talking, but are not yet on the same wavelength”

Marketeers give themselves a 7 on average on alignment with sales

Ideally, marketing and sales are well-oiled machines that work together to maximise the operating result. In practice, however, things often turn out differently with misalignment. For example, sales only approaching marketing for ad hoc activities and regarding it as a supplier of pens and trade fair gadgets. This leads to frustration for marketers who feel that they have charted a more strategic role for themselves. Despite all this, marketers give themselves a 7 out of 10 on average concerning alignment with sales. This is shown by the Expert Council that Smart Profile organized with marketing managers from certain leading IT organizations.

An important reason for the inadequate alignment between marketing and sales according to the attendees has to do with the different expectations the two groups have. It is therefore important to have a clear understanding of the role that marketing plays for sales and vice versa. A good example of how these expectations vary widely is the frequent demand on marketers to facilitate (ad hoc) participation in events. According to one manager present, the reason why the activities are carried out is often passed over in that process. A tool is asked for directly, although it is not clear whether the tool fits in the strategic framework and contributes to attaining the goals that are set, such as bringing in more leads, for example.

Seek cooperation already at an early stage
This sort of situation can be prevented if you seek to cooperate at an early stage. Share the marketing budget and set a common goal. This is a good starting point to devise a plan of action together, something that you can fall back on during the year if expectations from sales does not fall in line with the goal and the plan. The aim is not to preclude any flexibility in your activities of course, but a plan to which everyone is committed works a lot better than a marketing plan wherein sales has has no say whatsoever. Moreover, it helps to give sales a role in the planned marketing activities where possible, to further enhance ownership.

The maturity of the organization also exerts an important influence on the role of the marketeer and the expectations that sales has. Do you work in a start-up where the marketing manager is still a one-man band and where the lines of approach are not clearly defined yet? Or is there a marketing team in which the responsibilities are clearly defined and the boundaries are crystal clear? According to the marketeers, one factor reflects the maturity of the marketing organization and that is the use of data. Is there still a lot of random shooting with activities or do you make strategic choices to approach leads based on data?

Approach the right lead at the right time
It is broadly acknowledged in the Expert Council that this latter is an ideal image towards which marketeers have to grow. Collecting and providing the right leads to sales constitutes an increasingly larger, if not the largest part of the marketeer’s activities. For sales, on the other hand, it is good to know which leads are in a certain stage of the funnel, which needs that lead has, and what is needed in order to bring this lead further to ultimately turn it into a client. In that way, the right lead can be approached at the right time.

If marketing managers embrace this data-driven approach and manage to highlight the results properly, the strategic role of marketing in the organization is enhanced. The budget and energy of sales and marketing are then deployed very purposely with maximum results. This is a development in which marketing and sales can only be satisfied with and I am certain that the score for the alignment between the two parties will only increase.

Jurgen Verheijen
Marketing Manager, Smart Profile