Aligning Sales & Marketing and the Outputs They Deliver

wpid-IMG_20130829_093131.jpgThe sales and marketing efforts need to be just that: sales AND marketing efforts aligned as one. The best marketing organizations collaborate with their sales counterparts to jointly create initiatives, lead generation, and mutually supported plans to help the sales organization present the company’s unique value propositions to the right audiences in the right always. Marketing’s focus on collateral, websites, and promotional campaigns that don’t bring the sales group into the conversation miss on so many levels.

The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) underscores this concept in their work on The Challenger Sale. As the sales leader responsible for implementing Challenger Selling at a company where I worked a few years ago, I learned firsthand from CEB that most companies begin the process by working with the sales group and bring in the marketing group later.  Whereas CEB’s recommendation is to START with marketing and sales at the same time.

The point is further underscored in this article by Tracy Eiler, chief marketing officer at InsideView and author of Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing Teams into a Single Force for Growth.

Historically, the marketing organization helped companies develop products, programs, and messaging to help the sales organization…and often worked in a silo (“we know best…we’re the marketing group, right?”).  Today, conventional wisdom helps us to see that only when marketing and sales work TOGETHER to create the message and value proposition is true benefit and scale achieved.

More Focus on the Company = Less Focus on the Customer

As an organization places more focus on the company, the product, and the processes…it is difficult not to experience a reciprocal “lessening” of focus on the customer.  I once worked for an organization whose focus had resorted to “what can our R&D department design that will be efficient to manufacture and perform exceptionally well?”  Sounds great, right?  Well, not until you understand that what that company manufactured were gazillions of white and brown square windows, while the world wanted tan and green and arch tops and true divided light grilles.  In other words…choices.  We were doing what we though was right; what we liked to make; and could make well–but had momentarily lost sight of what customers really wanted.

Stages of Company Growth and Customer FocusStages of Company Growth and Customer Focus

The happy ending to this story is that ultimately that company “got it” and through intensely asking questions and listening to their customers, they moved from “manufacturing and product focused” to “customer and market focused.”   In the words of their president at the time, “The Giant Has Awakened.”  And they went on to maintain market dominance and provide what customers want…not necessarily what they decided they could make efficiently.

You have to know the customer.  You have to ask questions about needs, and peel back the layers of the onion to get a true picture of how you can add value, to make their lives easier, and what needs you can fill that create “win-win” lasting partnerships. The only way I’ve ever found to do this is to go stand in the customer’s place of business, and look back at your own company through their eyes.

And if they don’t have the answer…you had sure better.

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