Marketing & Sales Alignment to Drive Growth

“A lot of CMO’s fail because they forget to get conditions of satisfaction” Jeffrey Hayzlett Chairman of C-Suite Network

With over 20+ years in both the Sales & Marketing arena the biggest challenge I see facing our clients is to align the requirements of both divisions. Especially now that most of us are back from our Summer break and New Year planning is upon us. CMO’s shouldn’t move forward until they know exactly what makes the customer (ie CEO, Sales Director, Key Account, Consumer) happy. Business leaders need to set their conditions of satisfaction as soon as they take their position.

The need to work together has been around for a long time, but as we increasingly operate in a complex multi-channel environment, the pressure has never been greater to get it right. In what we may view as a bygone era, the Sales plan was just as pertinent as the Marketing Plan. It is where the great debates ensued. And great executions eventuated. To launch our series of blogs on this topic we are starting by looking at a couple of fictional scenarios: scenarios we often hear played back by our clients.

What would you do? How would you advise these colleagues? While the situations are fictitious, the issues are most definitely not.

Mathilda has just taken up a Senior Sales role with a clear remit to reignite growth.

“3 months in and I am encouraged to see that some of the traditional battle grounds between Sales & Marketing functions are being successfully navigated – particularly there is intent from the senior leaders on both sides to understand the needs of the other – but the reality is we are not enabling this within the wider teams with our current processes.

We have a real challenge around timings. Our Sales teams are having to develop Joint Business plans with customers at a point in the annual planning cycle when we have not even confirmed regional priorities, targets and plans let alone deployed them to the markets. Not only does it make it difficult to set meaningful targets and investment levels, it exposes us to potentially challenging conversations with customers through the year if plans change. From the discussions I have had with some of the Sales leaders their teams are struggling with the whole process and at the same time as being expected to deliver on increasingly stretching targets.

I have to find a way to make the strategy and planning process truly cross-functional and more aligned to customer lead times. The trouble is the business believes it is doing this already. I don’t think that talking more frequently is enough of an answer, but how do I go about taking it to the next level?”

James has recently joined a consumer packaged goods company as a Marketing Manager.

It is so frustrating: the stream of new brand initiatives we have is fantastic, we have really listened and acted on the feedback from the sales team & their customers about how uncompetitive we are, both in how much we invest and the rate at which we bring news to the category, but they are still not happy.

We have an outstanding plan for next year but all I hear is that the marketing teams are not realistic in what they expect the sales team to be able to deliver. “Shelves aren’t elastic” is constantly played back to me as I show the revised range and when I discuss my proposed promotional plan I am told it is not implementable in the current retail environment. The other pushback I get is “yours is not the only or the biggest launch I have to manage this cycle”. It’s not that I don’t understand or appreciate the constraints but it would help if Sales were clearer on their constraints and what they really needed up front.

I’m sure I could approach things differently but there is some helped needed from the senior people on the broader capacity issue. There seems to be little co-ordination across the business and brands, particularly in the regional teams, about the number of launches and activities feasible in a year with the resources we have locally. The tension is not apparent until we get to the execution stage in the local market.

What increases my frustration is that I feel that there is a solution to all this.  People throughout the organisation, at all levels and across functions, need to find a way to work together more collaboratively. The question is how do we make this happen in a way that isn’t a talking shop, but genuinely makes it easier to activate our plans?

So what would you advise Mathilda and James to do?

From the work we do with clients and our recent assessment of what it takes to effectively join up Marketing and Sales, we have identified a number of opportunities which if seized upon can drive incremental growth.

In Mathilda’s case the opportunity is to create a more joined up strategy and planning process where the customers’ requirements are built in much earlier and planning from brand to channel to customer is done collaboratively and iteratively. In James’ case the opportunity is to gain better cross-functional understanding and alignment to what it takes to successfully activate initiatives in the market.

CMO Perspective – Heather Zynczak of DOMO

“I’ve had to work with sales throughout my career. I view myself as part of the team that fuels the engine. I’m not successful if that team doesn’t take the fuel and make something of it. I’m held accountable to ROI at the end of the day. I have had to partner with them so much so that even a couple of years ago, for example, our Sales Director called me and said, “Hey, you’re delivering a lot of leads at the top of the funnel. The next team down, isn’t hitting their goals. I need you to help me light a flame and make us all accountable.

As a marketer, you have to wear a sales hat, and you have to view yourself as part of the sales engine. If you don’t, you’re failing, If that means you have got to get in there and understand details on sales plans, modeling, quotas, targets, or any other nuances that a marketer typically doesn’t get involved in – roll up your sleeves and do it. You’re not successful as a marketer if sales isn’t successful.”

Over the next few blogs we’ll be looking at what can be done in practice to tap into these and other opportunities.

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