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Monday, May 16, 2011

Can’t we just get along… sales and marketing alignment

"Teamwork is essential - it allows you to blame someone else." Author Unknown

I came across an interesting discussion on Linkedin, over the weekend about the difference between sales and marketing that got me thinking. Upon further research I discovered that a Google search for "sales and marketing alignment" yields over 2 MILLION hits!

I've always found it interesting that one of the accepted truths of business is conflict between the sales and marketing. Having spent time on both sides of that coin I've seen this conflict first hand, but I still don't quite understand it. Sales and marketing are the two organizations that bring products to market and drive revenue. Poor communication and a lack of coordination between the two could surely prove disastrous, but many companies accept this as the norm. Imagine if the engineering and product management organizations didn't see eye to eye. Surely that would drive innovation to a halt.

One of the biggest sources of frustration I find in any role is a lack of understanding of what value you bring and how it impacts others. Better understanding of roles and responsibilities can help both to motivate and resolve conflicts. In my world, sales and marketing both have the same goal – connecting with customers to increase company profits and revenue. What is implied is that both organizations are connecting with the world outside the company walls. The only difference I see between the two is the audience each is trying to reach.

In the marketing organization our goal is to sell to the entire world (or rather the specific market segment we are trying to capture, otherwise sales would have a right to be mad at us). The sales organization and individual sales people generally connect more directly to a particular account or set of accounts.  As such, sales tend to get much more granular in terms of customer conversation, whereas marketing stays more strategic. Marketing educates the world about the broader problems affecting a market to build a funnel of educated prospects. Salespeople connect the market problems directly to the individual pains of a customer to bring in revenue.

Ultimately both organizations should be telling the same story, only tuned to different audiences.


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