Opinion

Introducing Marketing Sells

Marketing Sells is our new blog post series dedicated to aligning sales and marketing. In this first instalment, Richard Hadler, company director at Raconteur, outlines why these two functions need to come together and work towards the same goal.

A good CMO friend of mine told me something shocking recently. His sales and marketing teams had come to blows (a proper punchup).

Hopefully, fights are rare in your office, but his story illustrated a stark fact: many businesses are still held back by arguments between two teams that should be pulling together.

It is a problem that I am passionate about fixing. So passionate that I am today launching a weekly blog, Marketing Sells, that aims to bridge the divide between sales and marketing. I will post every Tuesday.

Addressing the marketing and sales alignment problem

Throughout the series, I will explore innovative ideas to break down the barriers between the two functions. I will imagine a world where sales and marketing become intertwined to such a degree that, in 10 years, they are one. I will start with what I have learned from my career in sales and then talk to other senior executives from both sides of the (hopefully shrinking) divide to hear their ideas.

Does this disconnect — hostility, even — exist at your brand? Maybe the first step to towards a fix is to admit the problem. Yes, it has been a headache for generations, but with ever‐increasing competition and changing buyer habits, it is a headache that businesses can no longer tolerate.

And the main issue is pretty simple. Sales and marketing lack accountability. Or to be more precise, they lack shared accountability. The two departments are measured and rewarded in different ways, and this difference leads to a divergence in behaviour that damages their relationship and ultimately, the company’s revenue.

This ‘zero accountability epidemic’ is present even at some of the leading B2B brands that work with Raconteur. For the brand, this lack of effective metrics is a problem because they can’t measure the return on marketing campaigns — the number really that matters. For us, as an agency, it’s a problem because we can’t accurately measure the impact of the campaigns and therefore demonstrate the value we create.

The rivalry has been made worse by shifting corporate priorities. Traditionally in B2B firms the sales operation was top dog but — and I may upset a few sales egos when I say this — marketing may be getting close to the top spot. Technology has made successful, multi‐channel marketing campaigns not only possible but vital as business models evolve and get disrupted. Marketing’s status has also been enhanced by its embrace of metrics that allow, for the first time, its value to be quantified.

But this ‘who is top dog?’ mindset is lose‐lose; the energy that should be generating revenue is instead wasted internally. The solution: someone needs to be responsible for the whole sales and marketing funnel, from the leads discovered at the top to the revenue booked at the bottom. This person can come from either camp but must understand the value of a joined‐up department.

This is not about combining both departments, unreformed, under one person. It is the start of a process that will only succeed if:

  • Marketing understands the intricacies of the sales process;
  • Sales teams understand and acknowledge the power of marketing;
  • Both parties establish what ‘good’ looks like — the contracts being signed at the bottom;
  • and this “good” marries up with the overall company objectives.

To aid my future Marketing Sells blogs, I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced trying to align sales and marketing?

A new Marketing Sells blog post will be published every Tuesday. To stay up to date, sign up to the dedicated newsletter to receive regular insights on marketing and sales alignment.

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