Until Sales and Marketing have the same goal they will never get along. Period.
In a previous post about Sales and Marketing Alignment (S&MA) I discussed the results of an online survey I conducted to explore the reasons why there is a “disconnect” between Sales and Marketing in many companies. In addition, I discussed the financial performance impact S&MA has on the business. It’s significant.
3 in 4 marketers believe that marketing assets are somewhat (67%) or very (9%)effective, but only 46% of salespeople concur…*
A recap of the results that came out of the online survey:
- Misalignment of goals between Sales and Marketing
- Marketing and Sales don’t really have an idea of what the other does on a daily basis
- Management taking a functional approach instead of a system approach to achieve business goals
- No established feedback loop to allow Sales and Marketing to iterate strategies based on customer feedback
- Marketing not understanding the need for Sales to establish and maintain long-term relationships with customers
- Superiority complex of the Marketing team and pride of the Sales team
In this post I would like to offer potential solutions to these key “disconnect” factors starting with “Misalignment of Goals”.
In my opinion, this is probably the #1 reason for the problems Sales and Marketing have working cohesively together. How are you able to effectively establish cross-functional strategies if Sales and Marketing have different goals and desired outcomes?
Typically, Sales has solely a revenue target and Marketing has a few strategic goals that are measured by agreed upon Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). I’m not saying these are not valuable ways of looking at the business, but neither capture the entire story. At the end of the day, EVERYONE should have a revenue target…period. Marketing many times likes to avoid having a revenue target because they feel that they don’t have direct influence on sales. Not true. This allows them to execute tactics that many times don’t have a significant ROI for the business just to justify their jobs. This is a complete waste of everyone’s time. If Marketing was forced to hit revenue targets just like sales they would be more inclined to truly evaluate the potential benefit of campaigns before spending funds on marketing tactics that have little to no benefit to the business. It would also promote checking the performance of established campaigns to ensure they are still performing as expected.
This approach also applies to Sales. When you only look at revenue targets it can many times cause Sales to be blind to hidden trends that may negatively impact the business in the near or long-term future. Sales needs “softer” but metric-driven KPIs that allow them to approach the business more holistically. These KPIs should be closely related to the campaign KPIs that marketing has established. If the strategy is to increase the number of new customers, then Sales should have some secondary targets (behind target revenue…of course) that align with this company goal. This will help Sales not only focus on repeat business but also force them to find new sources of revenue to ensure the sales pipeline stays robust.
Marketing, in many organizations, usually completes a Brand Plan (3+ years) and a Tactical Plan (~1 year). During this process there needs to be tactical alignment across the board all the way down to the deliverables that Marketing plans to execute. The better alignment there is in what Marketing plans to deliver to Sales the more likely they will be implemented and executed in the manner intended. Many marketers will cringe at the idea of committing something to Sales and then having to deal with the fallout if they decide to eliminate a project. This is part of setting expectations for Sales and letting everyone know there are many factors that go into whether tactics can be executed (i.e. budget, team bandwidth, etc.). It needs to be made clear that planning does not equal commitment to execute. The business must remain flexible to adjust to the market.
In summary, ensure that goals across both teams are aligned, agreed upon, and shared transparently to ensure the highest probability of success.