5 More Challenges for Sales & Marketing Alignment
Last week, this blog listed some of the challenges that a B2B Marketing organization faces for Sales and Marketing Alignment. Aligning those departments is not that easy so you’re not getting off the hook just yet. This week there are five more to think about and have some comfort in knowing that your organization is not the only one that needs to go through such an exercise for understanding the following:
1. Sales and Marketing must craft multiple value propositions for multiple customer segments. Additionally, customer-facing Sales and Marketing staff must be trained to communicate them properly. In most organizations, there is confusion about a value proposition, especially for relatively young organizations with few customers. As an organization grows its customer base, it needs to understand the nuances in value that each vertical derives from the product or services offered. Both Marketing and Sales should really sit down with customers together to hear the stories on how their products and services are being used or even why certain feature sets are being ignored. By doing so, they will better understand the organizational and personal benefits that the customer experiences. Then, back at the office, Marketing and Sales can work on “institutionalizing” the stories into coherent value propositions, and work on weaving them into content, scripts and stories.
2. Sales and Marketing frequently differ on the most appropriate tactics and metrics for building a customer base. Sales has always looked upon itself as “a numbers game,” so is concerned with stuffing its pipeline as much as possible in the hopes of statistically having enough leads that buy and hence help achieve revenue objectives; yet at the same time want quality leads from Marketing. Marketing, on the other hand, may want to work with sales but also feels obliged to do things like “protect the brand,” over-analyze activity in their competitive environment, and focus too much on existing customers, not new ones. Marketing may think a cool looking website relaunch that wins awards or a large Twitter following is a sign of success, but Sales may not value that exercise if there are not new, qualified leads coming in as a result of the relaunch. Metrics & measurement are extremely important because Marketing and Sales need to both realize what activities directly impact revenue and which do not; there both departments must be agree upon what to measure.
3. Sales and Marketing do not really know how customers buy. Organizationally speaking, Sales and Marketing departments themselves buy few products and services; other departments do that for them. While some individuals on the sales team may have had training from previous jobs, it doesn’t do much good for the organization if both departments as a whole do not know how to systematically diagnose a buying center and apply a sales methodology to it. With all of the current emphasis on content marketing, if Marketers do not understand personas and the phases of a buying cycle, they will not be able to create effective content for Sales to use. Both departments need to invest in training such as that which Miller Heiman offers, so as they attempt to align, that alignment will assuredly be customer-centric.
4. The C-level suite does not require consolidated reporting. Many executives are not aware of the dashboard capabilities of either Marketing Automation or CRM systems, and may not know how both may be integrated. It is critical that executive buy-in occurs for any alignment efforts, and by showing how an aligned organization can utilize web-based technologies for accurate, almost real-time reporting of pipeline activity, executives will most likely want such a window. Sales and Marketing should take the initiative of producing consolidated reports, rather than waiting for the boardroom to demand it.
5. Sales tries to minimize customer interaction while going for the sale, and Marketing may avoid customer interaction altogether. This is a variation of last week’s point #3. Is this the culture of your organization? – Many Sales organizations try to bring in deals as quickly and painlessly as possible – we refer to this as “low hanging fruit.” Eventually the low hanging fruit disappears and you need to “stretch” your reach to grab other ripe fruit. That can involve a ladder, and Marketing isn’t even in the orchard to hold the ladder. So instead of creating engagements with prospects, marketing avoids them. Marketing needs to be there with sales, holding the ladder if not climbing the other side to help reach for the fruit. As salespeople are trained to communicate with and listen to customers, so too must Marketing be trained. Marketing may hear things that Sales does not during a customer interaction, and vice versa, thus triangulating a better idea of what makes the customer tick. And Sales cannot afford to be too protective of its existing customers – it must allow Marketing access to them and encourage team discussions to find out what is important to the customer.