Third in a series on Sales & Marketing Integration…

In many organizations sales and marketing operate unilaterally. Why is that, and how can you focus their energy towards increasing sales and profits?

This symbiotic relationship is difficult to manage; a recent study identified several reasons why alignment was such a persistent challenge. The reasons aren’t earth-shattering …. they ranged from a lack of formal communication programs, no marketing commitment to sales activities and vice versa, no shared post event analysis of results, and significantly, a lack of CEO endorsement.

It’s the CEO’s role to get marketing and #sales to work together effectively. Getting these two groups on the same page is critical for revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and ROI in terms of time and other resources invested.  One CEO I know strives for “dynamic tension”…. a collaborative, yet challenging relationship focused on results.

So what do you align them to, and how do you do it?

The answer is simple to describe, but requires persistence to execute. There’s an existing tool and process you can use—the business plan. It’s also where the disconnect initially occurs, so addressing it first will help build alignment.

1. CEO endorsement of the joint plan

The essence of Management by Objectives (MBO)is participative goal setting, choosing a strategy, and then agreeing on a set of actions. The CEO needs to push for alignment between the two groups on all these levels.

  • Background – Drive the team to develop your market and customer-centric data into a more robust understanding of evolving customer needs, the buying process, competitive threats, and key variables such as pricing. Steer them to convey sales and marketing’s mutual understanding of the market.
  • Goals – “What gets measured gets done”, speaks to the critical nature of setting goals. Ask your team which of the following objective statements brings focus, aligns priorities and drives actions. Is it, “Develop new customer opportunities”, or “Add X number of new customers per quarter from Y segment, generating Z in Gross Revenue?” What you really want is visibility towards and confidence in the future.  The CEOs’ objective is to understand how the group is pacing to deliver the revenue and profit targets. You want to understand productivity measures, status of key activities, and the emerging issues.
  • Strategy – Mandate that the strategic road map be owned by both marketing and sales. That’s never easy, and will require give and take, but the essence of strategy is to make choices.

2. Ensure joint execution

Alignment is not a ‘one and done’ approach, and it’s not only about developing a plan together. Create cross-functional teams to deliver specific planned actions, and find ways such as joint sales calls and trade shows to build communication and cooperation. Alignment is all about the level of partnership between sales and marketing.

3. Build in joint evaluation

Ongoing communication between Sales and Marketing will enable the team to quickly assess what worked, refine activities to be more effective, and determine what programs to drop.  Going forward, the plan should always include a “Lessons Learned” section, since disciplined feedback is critical to evolving more efficient sales and marketing programs.

Getting sales and marketing to that point of mutual focus is an ongoing CEO challenge. Joint planning delivers focus. Focus delivers tighter metrics, clearer actions, consistent messaging to customers, less waste, and better results.

If you are interested in discussing how joint planning can be focused on organizational growth, please contact Boardroom Metrics.