Some things are predictable. Politicians lie. The sun rises in the East. Sales and marketing don’t get along.
The misalignment between sales and marketing is legendary to the point of cliché. The reasons are both obvious and not-so-obvious, yet all distill down to perspective. Neither sales nor marketing can change their perspective, nor would that be desirable. But one of the two teams can adapt. This will not end the misalignment, but it will increase profits.
A definition of the word perspective is “the faculty of seeing relevant data in a meaningful relationship.” The gotcha word is “relevant”. What is relevant to a salesperson struggling to make their quarterly quota is different than what is relevant to a CMO trying to enhance a brand.
People with different perspectives rarely unite. Airlift a rural bible-belt citizen into a San Francisco transgender convention, and there will be little shared perspectives at first (though some begrudged concessions may occur after chitchat and cocktails). The perspectives not shared between sales and marketing are numerous and profound. Yet only one side has the ability and leisure to obtain a little of the perspective of the other side.
Where are the differences? A short list includes:
|Short-term focus||Long-term focus|
|Art (selling)||Science (strategy)|
|High-context (people-to-people)||Low-context (broadcast)|
|Urgent (make your numbers)||Passive (enduring success)|
|Quality (sales ready leads)||Quantity (find then filter)|
Distilled a bit, we see that sales has a different perspective on both the relationship to the customer as well as his value to the organization. Phrased perhaps to curtly, sales closes deals and puts cash in the bank, and does so by the end of the quarter. Marketing tries to make the entire market want the company and the product. Narrow versus broad. Immediate versus extended. Tactical versus strategic.
This dichotomy explains things like why sales won’t complete their CRM entries (which feeds long-term marketing needs) and marketing won’t generate yet another piece of collateral for a tiny subniche.
Mind the gap
Here is the big point. Sales cannot adapt to marketing. Certain small functions can be improved through coercion (such as sales completing their &^%#&^ CRM records). But sales cannot, and perhaps should not, be forced to see the world from marketing’s perspective. Sales people are hunters. Having them pay attention to every aspect of game management would keep them from bringing home dinner.
Marketing cannot be sales’ hand-and-foot servant either. Marketing needs to constantly think about the holistic nature of the market, product and buyers’ perspective. But marketing can adapt to sales, adding the perspective sales has to all the perspectives marketing studies (think of your sales team as yet another personae). By accepting that sales needs to be sold to, and that this begins with understanding their motivations, marketing can build a use case for the sales team.
From outside in
Like any go-to-market strategy, this begins by understanding the customer and their major motivations (sales needs to close deals within a limited amount of time, and do so quarter after quarter). To do so, they need a whole product (sales ready leads and the right arsenal of sales tools). The product that marketing designs for sales is thus geared to meet their primary motivation. It does not have to meet every motivation (just as your real products don’t have to meet every need or want of your regular customers), but the big needs must be satisfied, and the small ones understood.
Delivering this is the first step to creating a relationship with your sales team as you would in creating a relationship between customers and your company. Only once that initial trust (sale) has been made, can the relationship be made deeper, and you can ask for more (such as completing those &^%#&^ CRM records).