Marketing & Sales: Joined at the Hip

In a recent blog the ying & yang of marketing and sales we talked about why the dramatic changes in consumer and shopper behaviour, brought about by advances in technology, mean it’s more important than ever for Marketing and Sales teams to work together to create joined up strategies and plans.

Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself to check that you are aligning your strategy and plans to greatest effect. If you can answer all 5 positively, then you are a rare breed – do get in touch to share how you achieved it! While the explanations we have given below focus on FMCG, they can also be applied to many other sectors. The following questions can help identify fresh opportunities for organisations that are missing out on growth.

1. Does your business have a shared consumer-driven purpose?

Strategies and plans should always be set in the context of an overall business purpose. The best purposes are clear about their impact on consumers. For example Reckitt Benckiser’s purpose is ‘to make a difference by giving people innovative solutions for healthier lives and happier homes.’ It provides a uniting focus for Marketing and Sales. I am always surprised when a marketing team can brief a creative agency and a sales team can brief an execution agency:

  • Without talking to each other (and discussing synergies)
  • Without consideration of a shared purpose (where amplification can be maximized)

2. Is there a joined-up view of where you are going to play?

The next step is to identify the categories, channels and customers where the business is going to focus.  It is often marketing, or else a general category-manager, that leads this. They create a category strategy that defines which categories to focus on, and the long-term consumer-centred vision for them. The strategy also identifies the sources of growth within the categories and defines the roles for the different brands within the portfolio.

Within the context of the overall category strategy, the Sales team should identify the overall channel and customer strategies – i.e. where your company needs products and services to be available for target category shoppers.  It lays out the key strategies for winning within these identified channels and customers, providing guidance to the specific brand strategies and plans.

Many clients miss this important step – often resulting in a disconnect between what is required to win and the specific brand strategies and plans developed.

3. Does the consumer experience strategy identify the roles for channels and customers for specific brands?

A ‘Consumer Experience Strategy’ is what we call the strategy to achieve a consistent and motivating brand experience for consumers across all stages of their journey. It brings together all the cross-functional elements required to deliver an outstanding consumer experience.

If your business has more than one brand, it’s important to understand how to dial up (or down) the overall channel and customer strategies for each brand in support of this consumer experience strategy.

Marketing should take the lead in defining the consumer experience strategy for each brand whilst Sales should lead the creation of the channel strategy that supports it. To start, what channels will best target a brand’s consumer and shoppers? For example, a brand like Pepsi will have a stronger focus on the Supermarket channel than a brand such as Gatorade which would target channels that provide availability in and around sports. Then, what will it take for channel shoppers to purchase, in line with the desired experience. For example, channel insights around the role of promotions, assortment, location and investment priorities.

4. Do the brand plans work with the channel and customer plans?

Marketing & Sales teams need to work together to ensure activities are integrated across the entire path to purchase. Teams must agree on the priority channels and customers and how the funds should be allocated across these. As long as the strategies are aligned, this will not be too problematic. Activities should then be planned on the basis of achieving marketing objectives AND customer objectives.

A brilliant example we saw recently was Magnum. The Unilever-owned ice-cream brand launched pop-up Magnum Pleasure Stores in global cities from London to Shanghai to Mexico City. By inviting “pleasure seekers” to create their own bespoke ice-cream bars in store, Magnum demonstrate how sales and marketing teams can work together to successfully engage consumers.

5. Are you learning together?

It’s no longer enough to have great plans with KPIs which are measured once a year. Teams ought to listen to the views of consumers and shoppers all the time, rapidly adapting plans to address the feedback they receive. The Sales team must also stay connected with retail customers and regularly review performance with them. Learnings should be shared cross-functionally and plans changed with the involvement of both teams. Integration is just as important when adapting the plans, as it is when they are initially created.

Answering these 5 questions will help gauge how well your strategies and plans are joined-up. Do get in touch and let us know the successes or struggles you have had.

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