(I originally wrote this post for Lead Views, Leadformix’s blog. I’m re-posting it here.)
At two different speaking engagements this month I asked the audiences of marketers if they thought the lack of sales and marketing alignment was the biggest obstacle in their company to achieving significant revenue growth. At both events (one a marketing conference, the other a webinar) the results were similar. Over 60% agreed that the leading nemesis to greater revenue performance was the lack of alignment between their department and Sales. The other 30% to 40% believed another factor was primarily to blame such as market/economic factors, resource restraints, skill gaps, relationship gaps, or process / tool gaps.
Let me cut to the chase on the topic of sales and marketing alignment. There are three reasons why mis-alignment is present.
1. Top management doesn’t understand the full contribution that Marketing can make and should make to the business.
2. Marketers are not adequately trained to be true partners with Sales in the revenue generation process.
3. There isn’t an integrated planning process to enable (or force) Marketing and Sales to craft unified strategies and tactics.
The CEO. The buck stops at the top. So I’m placing some of the blame at the feet of the CEO because of their misunderstanding or ignorance of the significant role that Marketing can play in their organization. If they don’t really understand the power of Marketing, they won’t hire the right skills, insist on the right processes, or insist that Marketing and Sales work as a tight team 24/7. The CEO doesn’t have to know how to align he just needs to create the environment where alignment will occur. Without a really capable Marketing function a company is going into battle without all its weapons.
The Marketer. Sorry to admit that one of the biggest reasons for lack of alignment in B2B companies is that the folks in marketing just don’t have the necessary skills and perspective. Too many bright marketers haven’t learned how to be of greater value to the organization. Marketing in a B2B company is so much more involved than “branding”. We must see how to contribute closer to the “point of revenue” than our programs are impacting today. We must connect and measure our ability to impact company goals. This takes advanced B2B training, coaching, or years of painful experience. Without requisite skills the Marketer can’t earn the respect of Sales and the CEO.
The Process. The annual planning process is usually done in silos. Marketing does a plan. Sales does a plan. The two seldom talk during this critical period. The right mercifully short but rigorous planning process can harness the creativity of Marketing and Sales to construct together an action plan for achieving a revenue objective. The right process will focus the two departments on the buyer’s journey and the market, rather than a sales methodology.
If my two unscientific polls are representative of all B2B companies, 60% are blocking themselves from achieving greater revenue performance because the CEO doesn’t know what to demand from Marketing, Marketers don’t have the right skills to deliver bigger results, and the companies aren’t following an integrated market-focused planning process involving Marketing and Sales.
The good news is all three of these situations can be remedied in a relatively short period of time. CEO’s can learn what to expect from the marketing function. Marketers can learn critical skills. Sales and Marketing can plan together in a way that really aligns their efforts and processes.