The Ying & Yang of Marketing & Sales

“In terms of doing work and in terms of learning and evolving as a person, you just grow more when you get more people’s perspectives…”

Mark Zuckerberg

Following on from last week’s blog Marketing & Sales Alignment to Drive Growth, today delves into the synergy that is created when Marketing & Sales departments are joined at the hip. I have recently returned from a Marketing & Sales Conference where I had the opportunity to meet with many existing and prospective new clients. During the varied conversations, there was a consistent theme that regularly cropped up about how best to serve the customer. It was the need to get Marketing and Sales working more effectively together to develop, activate and amplify plans locally. There was a strong sense that in today’s dynamic and digitally enabled market the traditional cross-functional, often siloed, ways of working are significant barriers to growth. Of course this goes beyond joining up just Marketing and Sales, but these two functions, so close to the end-users and their influencers, are critical.

Reflecting further on this challenge during my recent Asian beer customer immersion it occurred to me that Yin and Yang is a perfect illustration of what needs to be achieved. Yin and Yang can be thought of as complementary forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is great than the sum of the parts. For the forces of Marketing and Sales to be complementary requires many things but at its heart is having a shared perspective on what each other does, what each other needs and a commitment to a common customer-centred purpose.

This shared perspective is an area where we are increasingly working with our clients. There is a growing recognition of the need to help each function to better understand the other and importantly the points of interdependence.

The work we are doing on shared perspectives with clients typically falls into three categories:

  • Sales for Marketing: helping Marketing departments better to understand what is involved in selling and negotiating with customers and what they can do to support this effort. A good example of this is some work we did with a client where we helped to create a comprehensive Sales for Marketing program, aimed at creating a better understanding of the 2-3 minute Sales interaction with Publicans and how to create the best support for this. Marketing teams joined sales colleagues in ‘ride-a-longs’, completed eLearning modules, and then worked collaboratively with the Sales Team on communication materials.
  • Marketing for Sales: provide Sales with a better understanding of Marketing and how to support their customers or their own team in achieving their goals. For example we are working with a media client where we are helping their Sales team to better understand how brands are built and the role communication plays within this. This knowledge will enable the sales team to find better media solutions for their clients and help them drive stronger growth.
  • Sales for Marketing, Marketing for Sales: putting the two together. We create cross-functional learning experiences where the Marketing and Sales teams work together on real issues which require integrated solutions along the path to purchase. It is fascinating to see the light bulbs go on for people as they suddenly realise why their colleagues have been taking that “different perspective” on things. In fact, with one client we designed a program that encompasses all of the above three elements in an intensive 3-day learning experience for Marketing and Sales.

We have talked before about the importance of excellence in joint strategy planning & combined activation plans but the glue that holds it all together is the shared perspective – that is what creates the yin and yang – the greater whole that’s required for growth in today’s market.

CMO Perspective – Ada Chen Rehki (Vice President of Marketing, Survey Monkey)

“The charter for the marketing team relative to sales is figuring out how we help them fill their funnel and enable them to win deals. How do we partner with sales and make sure they’re successful? There’s always a special relationship between sales and marketing. We think about it in two different ways,

The first one is making sure there is clear alignment and accountability across roles and responsibilities. We’re transparent about what we are doing: Here ‘s what we expect to get out of it, here’s what we’re planning, and if x comes through the door, here are the tradeoffs – should we really be doing ‘A’ instead of ‘B’? That’s been a huge part of building the relationship with the sales team.

The second part is that aspect of data. Because we are a business that gets a lot of traffic from online sources and thus has a high level of measurability and accountability, a lot of what we do with the sales team is to help them understand the actual leads we’re tracking, the metrics we’re holding ourselves to on a weekly and quarterly basis, and the initiatives and targets, what we’re actually trying to get to. That clarity of communication and metrics has helped the relationship a lot. Building a business together and being one team has been helpful because on a lot of levels, we’re marketing new products all the time.

We’re launching new solutions all the time, which means being incredibly agile in taking feedback from the sales team and saying, “You guys are the experts. You’re the ones who talk to the customers. How do we bring that feedback into the marketing materials & messages? How can we help bridge the gap between sales and product to make sure the next version addresses what we’re hearing from the field sales team? That’s an incredibly important area where marketing can add value.”

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