As CEO, your job is to ensure that your executive team is aligned on key company goals and is executing in tandem to accomplish these objectives. That they're all rowing in the same direction so your company can achieve its big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs). So why does it often feel like your heads of Sales and Marketing aren't on the same page? Because Sales and Marketing don't communicate.
The tension between sales and marketing teams stems from the fact that historically sales and marketing folks have had different focus areas-marketing has emphasized analysis and process and sales has focused on relationships and results. Because of these different perspectives, sales and marketing have viewed each other in less than flattering ways: according to an Corporate Executive Board (CEB) survey, 87% of the terms that sales and marketing use to describe each other are negative.
Your head of sales hears from his sales team that there aren't enough quality leads while your head of marketing hears from her team that the sales guys don't follow up on the leads they're given. As such, your head of sales views his marketing counterpart as an "academic" or "ivory tower" type person who doesn't want any accountability for her marketing efforts while your head of marketing probably views her counterpart as "simple minded" and a "cowboy" that constantly complains but who doesn't execute.
These outdated stereotypes have a significant impact on your company's ability to hit its top line growth targets: according to a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve 20% annual revenue growth while companies with poor sales and marketing alignment see a 4% decline in annual revenue growth.
And the impact of poor sales and marketing alignment on your company's top line will only continue to grow because of the way B2B buyers are making their purchase decisions today. Let me explain:
Your B2B buyers are spending more time gathering information about your company's products and services online before they decide to engage with one of your sales guys. Take a moment and think about how you buy today as a consumer: the first thing you do when you start to consider a purchase is to go to Google and type in a search term that most accurately reflects the problem that you're trying to solve. And then you do a trememdous amount of research online and on your own until you're ready to place the order.
That is no different for your buyer-your B2B buyer gathers 60-75% of the information they need online to make a purchase decision before they contact your company. Whereas before the digital age your sales team was the key tool for that buyer in their information gathering phase, now your company's online presence-which is the responsibility of marketing-has become the key selling tool for your organization. That means the lines between sales and marketing have become increasingly blurred.
Today sales and marketing are both equally accountable for revenue generation. And the hand off between marketing and sales is more critical than ever-since marketing is gathering early intelligence about your buyers' interest (readiness to buy?, which product?, preferred communication method?, etc) through their online actions, Marketing must share the information they've gathered with the sales so that sales team can have the context to seamlessly get the handoff and have productive conversations. After your B2B buyer has gathered 60-75% of the information from your website about your company & products, do you think they want to start the conversation all over again with the sales team?
So it is time to break down the silo'd walls between your heads of sales and marketing and improve collaboration and communication. Here's how:
1. Encourage your heads of Sales anrd Marketing to agree on terminology (i.e., what is the definition of a lead?).
2. Have your heads of Sales and Marketing agree and implement a bi-directional service level agreement (SLA) to that holds them each accountable.
3. Set up closed loop reporting->connect the marketing and sales databases so results can be measured and optimized.
5. Ask for daily, weekly and monthly reports that hold the sales and marketing teams accountable for their joint goals.
CEOs who demand that their sales and marketing departments are tightly aligned and are working collaboratively together can optimize their company's top line growth.