How integrated are sales and marketing? They should be tightly integrated because marketing should tee up sales – right? What are the performance objectives for sales executives? Marketing executives? Well for sales executives, that is pretty easy – sales and margin. For marketing executives, that is not quite an easy answer. We could say brand awareness, lead generation, loyalty, and advocacy. But at the end of the day (or quarter) most CEOs judge their marketing executives’ performance on sales.
Now on one hand this makes sense. A company survives on profit from sales. All marketing efforts, if successful, should result in sales. But here is the rub … the functions of marketing are different than sales. And more importantly, customers and clients do not want to be blatantly sold to. They want to develop trust and relationships with the brands they purchase.
So let’s go back to sales objectives and marketing objectives. The sales executive has one simple job function – close the sale. Marketers’ job functions are different. They need to build awareness, interest, buzz, reputation, and overall an awesome customer/client experience with the brand. If we agree that marketers need to build trust and win over customers to build solid relationships, can’t that relationship be hurt if the target audience feels like they are being sold to? And if at the end of the day the marketer’s success and future with their company is going to be judged by sales, are we not creating a dilemma? Not just a dilemma for the marketer, but a potential problem for the customer as well?
As I said, this is an honest discussion with no simple answer. But I suggest that we need to change the objectives of marketers. My suggestion is not driven by a desire to ease the responsibilities of marketers, but is driven by the target audience behavior that marketers serve. The audience does not want to be sold to and at the same time they want to believe in the brands they purchase. And from the company perspective they need sales to survive.
If we look at the sales marketing funnel, most consumers traverse from awareness to consideration to sale to post-sale loyalty and then advocacy. Can we agree that the four phases besides sales (awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy) tee up sales? If so, let a marketer’s function and responsibility be teeing up sales and a sales executive be responsible for closing the sale. Measure marketers on awareness consideration, loyalty, and advocacy and not hold them responsible for sales. Is this distinction possible?
I believe the digital world has put much power in the hands of consumers and clients. They can get more information then ever before. They can share their opinion to a large audience and their news travels fast. Behaviors as a result of digital technologies create the case for truly separating marketing and sales objectives.
Here is an interesting analog … For a long time, The New York Yankees were blessed with having Mariano Rivera as the relief pitcher that would be put in at the end of a game to seal a win for the team. It did not matter if the starting pitcher was having an amazing outing. If the starting pitcher had a big lead. The Yankees’ manager would put Rivera in to close the deal. The Yankees had great “tee-er-uppers” and a superb closer. Metaphorically speaking, marketers are starting pitchers. They get momentum and set up the win for the closer. Sales executives come in in the late innings and seal the deal/win.
Yes, I know sales/marketing objectives are a complicated issue, but I think I have rationalized the need for change now. Many have talked about this for many years. Social and digital technologies have really created the customer/client behavior to drive a need for change now. Please add your voice and opinion to this vital topic.
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