In our last article on Marketing and Sales Alignment, we covered some primary areas of friction between Sales and Marketing. In this article we are going to go through that same list, and discover what might lead to a smooth meshing of these two crucial gears within a company.
Resolving Cultural Differences
Sales is generally actively engaged on a personal level with potential buyers and customers, while Marketing staff are usually situated behind desks evaluating market trends and devising strategy and promotional campaigns.
The basic truth of the matter, however, is that both Marketing and Sales bring considerable and unique strengths to the understanding of the marketplace. If one or both were to run up the white flag and meet on common ground, they would each find the other’s data quite useful. It could start with a full-on personal meeting, each side discussing the information they gather, and each side providing examples of how they could utilize the other’s data. This could then set the stage for the regular provision of information each would find useful.
Insightful data about customers, prospects, the industry and market is the fuel which propels overall company progress in the marketplace. A cooperative sharing of that data gives the company the most power it could have.
Smoothing Over Conflicts about Pricing
Marketing generally establishes suggested retail or list prices, and usually pushes for products and services to be sold as close to those prices as possible; this is a question of profit margin. The sales force, on the other hand, often uses special discounts to close deals—such closes being their primary objective.
If Marketing and Sales were to work together on this issue, they would discover that their goal is the same: companies purchasing your products. Marketing could understand why Sales offers such discounts, and Sales could gain an understanding of why Marketing is insisting on a wider profit margin. An agreement or agreements could be reached on tactical approaches to pricing that helps each attain its goals, in even more volume. Pricing can be established between Sales and Marketing – one that allows for discounts to help close the sale, yet still maintains a wide enough profit margin to be profitable for the company and be competitive in the market.
Ending Budget Fights
Another bone of contention between Marketing and Sales is the budget: i.e., who is going to get the bigger piece of the budget pie? Each insists that the other is wasting the budget they do get and that it would be far better spent on their own initiatives.
The solution to this conflict is simple: have them work with each other to sort out how the budget should be spent, and why. There are companies today that actually task company division heads to meet and work out how the overall company budget should be divided. The resulting proposed budget is then submitted to senior executives for approval or modification, and the CFO for final approval.
For Marketing and Sales, such regular meetings would not only help resolve conflicts, each could then gain understanding on exactly what the other is trying to accomplish and the value that each brings to the table. It can even get to the point where understanding gained on the others activities results in suggestions of valuable sales strategies or tactics for the other.
Ad Campaign Consultation
Sales often complain that Marketing is “missing the target” for ad campaigns, and is not promoting the features or benefits that they hear about through daily contact with prospects and customers. Marketing, on the other hand, is promoting functionality that they see is being demanded by the broad market.
Solving this issue is best done through straight communication between the Marketing and Sales departments. Sales will have very valid input to marketing campaigns, and Marketing would be wise to pay attention. Regular consultation of the sales force before a campaign is launched will often make the campaign more on-target and effective.
Sales Involvement in Product Development
While Marketing is usually heavily involved with product development, Sales is most often left out of the loop. Yet Sales is getting constant feedback on desires for features and functionality from prospects and customers. Inviting regular spread between Marketing and Sales input into product development may mean the difference between a product release home run or a foul out.
CRM Solution within Marketing and Sales Alignment
Marketing and Sales alignment is best accomplished with the aid of a leading-edge CRM solution through which the various steps of the sales process—including those contributed to by Marketing—can be visualized and brought to life. As the sales process evolves through the cooperation of the two departments, changes can easily be reflected in a flexible and intuitive CRM application. With such a CRM application, the unity of Marketing and Sales is smoothly automated.
For a company to succeed in this highly competitive twenty-first century business environment, all an enterprise’s gears must be smoothly meshed and working in complete cooperation. Marketing and Sales Alignment is the most vital part of that cooperation.
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