The longest civil war in business: Why can’t Sales and Marketing get along?

It’s the oldest civil war in business. And I’m not talking about Coke vs. Pepsi or Ford vs. GM. Those are full-on rivalries.

I’m talking about civil war. Same nation, different sides.

As in Sales vs. Marketing.

Marketing is clearly the big brother. When Sales was still taking clients out for steak dinners and cigars, Marketing was becoming a university degree and creating theories like Porter’s Five Forces. Even now, Sales is considered a sub-discipline of Marketing.

But Sales gets all of the attention. Like the younger sister who is popular, smart, and athletic, Sales can turn heads and crush egos.

So, why all of the hostility between the two? Why is this battle so consistently fought?

Ask any Sales or Marketing pro, and they’ll give you an opinion. In this blog, I’m going to offer you mine. And – hopefully – it will help you get more alignment out of your own Sales and Marketing.

Reason #1: Long-term versus short-term

By their very designs, Sales and Marketing are built to focus on time. Marketing gets the long view and Sales gets the short one. This is driven by metrics. Marketing doesn’t get measured the same way that Sales does. Most often, it’s a year-long march. Sales gets broken down month by month – sometimes week by week.

That creates a massive amount of tension between the two functions. Sales needs help NOW. But that doesn’t make Sales right.

How do you address it? You must get your metrics aligned. But please don’t over-rotate toward short-term scores. That’s a recipe for long-term disaster. You must make sure that the metrics show people are playing for the same team. You must measure the success of things that drive long-term AND short-term performance. I suggest you lock in on successful sales conversations. If you can get those happening, success will come.

Reason #2: Market versus customer

Marketing definitely gets the bigger hit for this because they often speak in generalities. Customers are individual people. Don’t tell a Sales person how to reach a C-level executive in the financial services industry. Tell them how to reach Kumar, the COO at Company X.

How do you address it? If it’s considered “Sales’ job” to figure out the specifics, Marketing had better provide the content for those interactions. And it has to be customizable. Even better, Marketing should be using technology like Showpad to see what is working so that they can make recommendations to Sales on what to do. And if Sales doesn’t listen, that should be tracked and measured. Which takes you back to what is being measured…

Reason #3: Resources versus junk

According to Sirius Decisions, 65% of marketing content goes unused by Sales. I have literally walked into the garage of a sales person and seen boxes of “crap” that Marketing sent – that had no value to the salesperson. Why? Because it wasn’t relevant to sales conversations.

Pause. That judgment of relevancy does not mean that Marketing was wrong/ineffective. While that can often be true (see market vs. customer above), it can also be that the sales person didn’t learn how to actually use whatever Marketing had produced. This happens far too often as well.

How do you address it? Go back to using sales conversations as the anchor point. Make sure that each marketing resource actually helps a specific conversation. And by specific conversation, here’s five of them for B2B selling:

  • Build a Tailored Point of View: The first conversation that must be mastered is the one you have before you talk with the customer. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a customer-specific, tailored PoV statement.
  • Connect with the Right People: The second conversation is about that first contact with a potential customer. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a confirmed opportunity.
  • Have a Relevant Meeting: The third conversation is about exploring and confirming the opportunity to solve a genuine problem with the customer. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a qualified prospect who has a problem to solve.
  • Create the Definition of Success: The fourth conversation is about building consensus with the customer about what could be done and what will be done. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a clear definition of success that is mutually beneficial.
  • Make the Value Tangible: The fifth conversation is about turning your customer’s expectations and alternatives into measurable outcomes. Successfully mastering this conversation produces a formal activation/close.

If Marketing isn’t helping Sales successfully deliver these five conversations, it’s never going to be given the chance to lead.

And the civil war will continue.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

PS If you or someone you know needs to get better performance from the sales team, let’s set up a conversation to talk about it. Get on my calendar here.

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