Sales versus Marketing . . .
Oh, the drama of it all.
Finger-pointing, passing the buck, laying blame.
There’s even talk of a “chasm” between these two departments but it certainly does not exist in all companies.
On the other hand, there are companies that insist it’s a non-issue when in reality it’s the 800 lb monkey on their back.
So what do you think—
Can Sales and Marketing ever get along?
And if they can’t, does it mean that their:
• Lead Generation is broken?
• And their Sales Process is, in fact, un-process-able?
For answers to these and other questions I reached out to Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of The Annuitas Group and recognized expert on Sales Process development.
The following are excerpts from our recent conversation:
ROLAND: We keep hearing about a disconnect, a gulf between the Sales and Marketing departments. So first things first; how can business leaders determine if it even exists in their organizations?
CARLOS: Sales and Marketing Alignment seems to be an issue in most organizations, but as you state correctly, not all.
As for how leaders can diagnose if they have a problem? Ask. Marketing and Sales people are all too willing to dish on the other.
Secondly, business leaders can conduct a pipeline analysis. If they can’t point to measurements along the way and if marketing has no visibility to conversions, the organization most likely has alignment issues.
Lastly, business leaders should find out what messages reach the customer. We’ve witnessed companies that have Sales saying one thing and Marketing another. The result—a very confused, unhappy buyer.
ROLAND: Exactly, Carlos. The message — or messages — that the client receives is so very critical to sales success. And confusing messages lead to hesitation on the part of the potential buyer. Never a good thing.
So how does this mis-alignment between Sales and Marketing affect businesses in terms of: productivity, employee turn-over, margins (in that it lengthens the sales cycle) and lost revenue?
CARLOS: In just about every way. The two biggest are poor customer experience and money lost.
We worked with one company where about 50% of all leads marked as “open” were ignored by Sales. This company generated roughly 500 “leads” per month at $55 per lead. If 50% are being ignored, that equates to $13,750 per month and $165,000 per year being lost. Keep in mind, we’re not talking about the revenue that was unrealized (the company’s offering generates $30,000 per order) or the customer experience of being ignored. This wasn’t just a case of lost opportunity, but of money wasted.
Given this scenario, I would certainly say the impact is poor productivity, lost sales, extended sales cycle and the list goes on.
ROLAND: A pretty ugly scenario. So who, then, bears the responsibility for this gulf, and what are the steps they need to take to correct the situation?
CARLOS: Ultimately, this is an executive issue. If it doesn’t come from the top, it won’t engage the rest of the organization.
As for what they can do, it all gets back to process.
By creating a process that answers the question “I’ve got a lead . . . now what?” the Marketing and Sales departments turn into a team that defines the buyer-relationship and a team that shares a common goal. Two departments with a single focus on revenue improvement. When this happens, alignment occurs.
ROLAND: Okay, but if senior management truly understood ‘process’ then the gulf that divides their Sales and Marketing departments would never have come to be. So are they really the best choice to lead the sales process development, or should they look to outside help?
CARLOS: The concept of alignment and process developments starts at the top, but the managers, reps and marketing personnel also need to embrace it. Regarding outside help? I think they should consider it for a few reasons and the first is the outside consultant carries none of the baggage and has no political agenda when working with an organization. Consultants look at facts and try to fix and address issues.
I also think consultants bring vast experience that is very likely applicable to other organizations. Why not bring someone aboard who has worked with a hundred other companies on the same issue?
Bottom line is, most companies are too close to their problems. It prevents them from seeing clearly and therefore having that third party expert brings clarity, direction and guidance through the process of change.
ROLAND: And what of Marketing Automation? It’s sometimes said to help bridge the gulf. Does it or does it tend to exasperate the situation?
CARLOS: I have yet to see technology bridge any gulf with the exception of Facetime on the iPhone or iPad (my plug for all things Mac).
Automation is going to do what it says in its name – automate. It will automate what is in place and where there is no defined and developed process, it will automate chaos. In these cases the outcome is a widening of the gap.
No company should buy into automation in an attempt to align marketing and sales. It will not work and if it was that simple the automation industry would be ten times the size it is today.
Alignment will be achieved when companies understand that a process and a change is realized. Once that’s done, technology can then enable the organization.
Carlos Hidalgo is CEO of The Annuitas Group, the leading provider of sales and marketing process consulting services. In his role, Hidalgo has helped clients identify over $600 million of potential revenue by developing and implementing lead management processes.