Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Linking Together Sales and Marketing

You've heard our rants before on the importance of the integrated efforts of your sales and marketing teams. And, we've all seen companies where this isn't the case -- and how that negatively impacts everyone's results. You can probably imagine how happy we were to see this article on one of our favorite subjects, then! Especially one that starts out like this:

"As Benjamin Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Neither marketing nor sales can succeed on their own. But together, working in unison, they create a powerful — almost irresistible — force."

We don't think that this can be said too much. Why? Because we are still talking to companies' sales and marketing divisions that continue to be intent on blaming one another for each other's less-than-stellar results. It may not be easy to accomplish this integration between sales and marketing -- but it is imperative to your success.

This very compelling article comes to us from the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly. As author, Paul Herbig, states, "Integrated marketing or collaborative selling is where all aspects of the organization — marketing, sales, support, customer service — are found within one umbrella organization, and all facets — databases, personnel, etc. — are integrated to optimize previously discrete business departments. The objective is to link all of the business processes among all these common elements into a smooth-flowing cooperative endeavor. If successful, the end result will be the creation of a customer-centric organization."

I repeat -- this may not be easy, but it is so very important.
As direct marketers, we hate to hear the grousing about how the leads that we carefully provide to the sales team are not resulting into closed sales. And, as sales people, we are tired of getting beat up for not meeting sales revenues due to our perception of "crappy" leads. Hence, the blaming begins. The only way to solve this conundrum is to fully embrace the concept of integrated marketing and selling. Herbig states, "Integration continues to gain ground, but it’s slow and painful. Necessity, not corporate vision, will continue to drive the process of improved marketing and sales integration. Silo-based management of sales and marketing resources promotes waste and thwarts results measurement. It also creates a procedural barrier to ensuring that organizational actions align with organizational goals related to sales and customer retention."

It may be a lot of work but it is definitely worth the effort. Try to begin with the desired end state in mind -- again, from the article, creating that powerful -- almost irresistible -- force. Then, start with baby steps. Create a team that bridges across both divisions and begin with consistent communication, feeding back to each whole team. Talk about what you are each measured on -- then try to determine how you can correlate those results metrics. Set goals that are common for both divisions. It is easier to work together when you are working to obtain the same end result. The systems stuff is definitely trickier -- and more cost sensitive -- but think about what you can accomplish by just communicating and collaborating across the two divisions. If nothing else, better understanding of each group's challenges will result. That alone can create a better working environment between sales and marketing.

If you have any success stories on how your company has been able to bridge this gap and work towards sales and marketing integration, please share! Or, if you have any horror stories on what has happened when this integration has not taken place . . . share that, too. We'd love to hear your thoughts!

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