aligning marketing and sales

Marketing Training may hold key to Alignment and Revenue Growth

Posted on August 18, 2010. Filed under: aligning marketing and sales, interim executive, interim management | Tags: , , , |

An interim CEO, CMO or CSO charged with transforming a company’s revenue performance is going to assess how well aligned the marketing and sales functions are to each other and to the market. Misalignment between Sales and Marketing is a common cause of under-performance and inefficiency, after all.

Identifying that misalignment exists within the organization is relatively easy and even can be measured via an Alignment Index . However, solving the problem long term has proven very difficult. An interim executive with revenue responsibility is likely on point to “fix it” and fix it quick.

The  results of a poll on this topic are enlightening even though the poll is not statistically representative. Responses in the poll suggest that the lack of B2B marketing skills within the Marketing department are the leading obstacle to achieving long-lasting alignment with Sales.

The poll asked the question, “What is the biggest obstacle to successfully aligning Marketing and Sales long term?” The choices given are:

  1. Culture–lack of commitment and trust
  2. Technology–lack of CRM, etc.
  3. Process–lack of a shared action plan
  4. Funnel–lack of funnel definitions, roles
  5. Skills–lack of the right skills in Marketing

Lack of the right skills within the Marketing organization has received 50% of the responses thus far. Lack of commitment and trust within Marketing and Sales is second most popular choice having been selected by 35% of the respondents. Lack of agreement to funnel stage definitions and roles is third most common obstacle to alignment with 14% of respondents.

My experience as consultant and interim executive  in scores of B2B companies over past nine years validates this finding. The talented, eager, creative people in Marketing lack critical know-how to be  strong strategic and tactical partners with Sales. The type of B2B marketing skills necessary for success in today’s companies are not taught in most Universities.

The required skills and best practices don’t  always come to Marketers from years on the job if careers are spent in unsophisticated companies without strong marketing leadership.

The poll results suggest that companies wishing to align Marketing and Sales are smart to first invest in black-belt level of B2B marketing training for their Marketing teams.

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Aligning Sales and Marketing; Part 8,354

Posted on March 30, 2010. Filed under: aligning marketing and sales, interim management | Tags: |

Good discussion of how to define alignment of sales and marketing in this post. .

Good perspectives are presented in the original post and in subsequent comments from other marketing and sales gurus. Any interim marketing or sales executive charged with generating a revenue breakthrough must focus on the processes and culture with the two organizations.

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Why Best Practices and Methodologies Fail in Sales and Marketing

Posted on March 12, 2010. Filed under: aligning marketing and sales, interim executive, interim management, marketing best practices | Tags: , , , |

As a consultant and interim marketing executive I am exposed to a variety of business and organizational situations every year. Without fail when attempting to transform the performance of the marketing and sales team with best practices I run into a stiff headwind blowing through the hallways and between the cubicles.

Unfortunately I know of more than one case where investments were made in research, training and technology only to have the initiative stall out before the benefits could be realized.

The number one reason best practices fail in sales and marketing is because the environment is un-trusting, uncooperative, passive-aggressive, caustic, and in some cases even poisonous.

Recognize the place?

The work environment within sales and marketing in so many companies has taken on these negative characteristics slowly over time. Unfortunately it is cumulative. People in the organization have memories. Stories are passed from old hires to new hires. The negativity self-fulfills.

In short, our sales and marketing organization—the one we depend on for life-giving revenue today and in the future—is effectively working in the past. Instead of working together in every way with a shared vision of performance, the people in these departments stumble about with eyes locked onto the  rear view mirror.

Best practices can’t be expected to generate breakthrough performance in sales and marketing if the people are carrying around negative baggage—both personal and organizational– from the past.

I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts and actual examples (please keep company names out of your posts)

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What is the Cost of Misalignment in Sales and Marketing?

Posted on June 14, 2009. Filed under: aligning marketing and sales, interim management, Revenue funnel, Sales funnel | Tags: , , , |

There’s a lot of talk about aligning sales and marketing. I’ve given speeches on the topic and have written numerous posts.  Company executives know it’s an issue, but what are the costs associated with misalignment?

If our car is out of alignment we know that the tires are going to wear out faster; we are more in danger of the car wandering out of our lane into on-coming traffic; the ride isn’t as smooth; and the car is harder to steer. We know the cost of replacing tires and in our mind we can calculate the risk of an accident. That’s pretty easy.

But, what is the cost if  a company’s  revenue engine is out of alignment? Believe me, it’s costing you more than a set of new tires.

I want to open this discussion up and let the ideas flow.  I have a thesis. I think most companies have been driving in a misaligned state for so long they are settling for sub-par results and resigned to trying to solve the problem. Misalignment is the default situation in most B2B companies.

Here is an excellent reason why an outside executive serving in an interim manager capacity at your firm, or as a consultant is best able to get you out of the rut.  They bring objectivity and the knowledge that there is indeed gold at the end of the rainbow.

What is the cost of misalignment? If, as business managers, we can’t put a number to the cost we’ll hesitate to invest in a solution, and that is the way it should be.

Here are a few areas in which misalignment is costing your company.

  1. Low conversion rates – your proposal to close ratio is static or falling. Research has shown that misaligned companies have a lower conversion rate. What would be the impact if you reduced your cost of customer acquisition by 10% , 20% or more?
  2. Missed revenue forecasts – unpleasant budget surprises at quarter end when actual sales are significantly below budget.
  3. Lost customers – research has shown that misaligned companies are not as good at keeping and growing profitable customers. What is the lifetime value of a customer? If you lost 10% or 20% fewer customers each year what would than mean to the top line and bottom line?
  4. Slow reaction to market dynamics – when marketing and sales have difficulty agreeing on direction and tactics there are delays in action; opportunities are missed. What is the value to you in beating the competition to a market opportunity?
  5. Internal strife – It’s not fun or productive to work in a company in which marketing and sales are at odds (or at war).  Soon egos and politics rule the decision making rather than a focus on progressing buyers through the sales funnel.  The cost here, besides low productivity, is employee turnover. What are your recruitment and training costs in sales and marketing?
  6. Do-overs – programs are often created and never implemented  because there is disagreement about what should be done and how. What is the cost of programs that never see the light of day, or what is the cost of do-overs?
  7. Loss of momentum – the most effective revenue generation plans are those that have coordinated strategies and tactics where sales and marketing are pulling forward together. A dog-sled team is a good metaphor. When the dogs are running out of step or in different directions the sled is not going to progress at optimum speed.

Those areas will give you a start. I’m sure I’ve overlooked a few.  Once you’ve identified the cost areas you’re ready to get out your calculator and compute what the chaos is costing you.

Give it a shot. Bring out the calculator, look at your current financial statements and budget. Don’t be shocked if the total cost is 5% or more of your total sales and marketing budget.

Think small if you like. What would a 5% improvement in any area look like? Think big. What would a 20% improvement in any area look like? What would a 5% improvement in all areas look like?

I look forward to reading your comments and  sharing more on this topic soon.

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    A Discussion of Interim Management for Marketing and Sales Functions by Charles Besondy


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  • About this Blog

    This blog is devoted to the topic of interim management for marketing functions within large and small corporations. Interim management as a staffing concept is well-understood and widely utilized in Europe. However, here in the colonies we are just beginning to open our eyes to the business benefits of being flexible and nimble when it comes to staffing senior-level marketers. (c) 2006 - 2012 Charles Besondy
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