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Bloggers Weigh In on Sales/Marketing Mis-alignment

by: Adam Needles (@IBMforMarketing)
31 July 2009

I've gotten a lot of great feedback on last week's blog post, "Viewing Sales/Marketing Mis-alignment Through Sales' Eyes," and it's driven some thoughtful conversation with people both within the sales and the marketing communities. Moreover, as I've been blogging, commenting and Tweeting on this topic over the past few weeks, I've noticed significant momentum around this dialogue. And I'm not the only one.

"The sales and marketing alignment movement is on," notes Craig Rosenberg, a.k.a. 'The Funnelholic' (Twitter: @funnelholic), in a recent blog post. "Everyone talks about it in the blogosphere and at conferences." Why is this?

I believe we are at a watershed moment in this dialogue. Seismic shifts in the B2B buyer process, in the roles of sales and marketing professionals and in the demand generation and marketing automation technology landscape have created a unique moment. The time is now to let go of long-held views, to embrace a new mindset (one I've referred to as an Engagement 2.0 mindset) and to build new processes and infrastructure to improve sales/marketing alignment -- focusing on building quality leads and supporting resultant sales through a well-tuned demand generation engine.

Round-up of Blogger Insights

To further propel this dialogue, I thought it would be valuable to connect people and ideas. So here is a round-up of insights on this topic from other bloggers -- all who write about sales and marketing issues:

> Robert Lesser (Twitter: @robertlesser), president of Canada-based Direct Impact Marketing, a B2B lead generation firm, posted on the MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog about the 'top ten signs' that a company has sales/marketing mis-alignment. His key insight also speaks to the organizational impact of mis-alignment: "Poor quality leads and a broken lead process are [the primary] warning signs that sales and marketing are not aligned."

> Chuck Besondy (Twitter: @cbesondy), a US-based sales/marketing staffing executive, added his thoughts (via a post on his firm's Executive Marketing blog) about the real cost to companies of sales/marketing mis-alignment. He believes that "... 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."

> Neil Edwards (Twitter: @themarketingeye), managing director of UK-based The Marketing Eye, a marketing agency, posted on his company's blog site about 'the great sales versus marketing debate.' He advocates for a holistic approach and points out that in the rush to empathize with sales, marketers must not lose sight of the bigger picture:

Let's be in no doubt, and I see this first hand in my own business, Sales is one of the most important components of the marketing strategy. If the leads aren't being found and converted, there is no long term to plan and position for, so the marketing department needs to get its finger out and do its bit to feed the machine.

But Sales is exactly that: one part of the marketing strategy and it puts the cart firmly in front of the horse to have Marketing reporting to Sales. All of the elements of product, price, place, promotion, people, process, physical evidence and positioning need to combine before a business can make friends with customers and sell the maximum number of units at the highest possible price.

BTW, I agree -- in part -- and disagree -- in part -- with Edwards' comments. My added thought would be to repeat a comment I made to a senior sales professional yesterday. I believe that the focus of the entire marketing process must be on sales, but note that I didn't say the sales person, I said sales. I.e., sales/marketing alignment is not about appeasing marketing or sales people; rather, it is about aligning activities against an ultimate and resultant outcome of the demand chain -- revenue (a.k.a., sales). In this process, marketing is upstream from the sales team and must be responsive to delivering quality opportunities and to building context and brand perception that support ultimate sales conversion. In line with Edwards, I'm not suggesting marketing should report to sales; however, I am asserting that marketing must be accountable to sales.

> Craig Rosenberg (cited above), finally, echoes a point from my last post on the importance of marketing viewing itself from a sales point of view: "One of the keys to this sales and marketing 'glasnost' is for both sides to understand as much as they can about not only what each other does in the organization but general best practices for each specialty." (Note: His post -- linked above -- also has a great 'top ten' list of sales blogs to read.)

What other posts have you read recently on improving sales/marketing mis-alignment? Please share your perspectives and links here. In fact, it would be great if we could use this round-up as a starting place for building out a list of as many posts and points of view on this dialogue as possible.


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