"The colouring in department"
"You 'PR girls' over there"
"That OpEx-sucking black hole"
"The t*** and teeth department"
These are just some of the rather charming ways that B2B marketing professionals have been addressed and described by sales people over the years, and all within my earshot.
Suffice to say there isn't always a feeling of gushing mutual respect in evidence between sales and marketing teams.
And that has to change because like it or not, we need one another.
Without Marketing teams generating leads, creating awareness and understanding via great content and campaigns, and yes, sometimes paying for the beers and sandwiches, many salespeople would struggle to meet their quota. And without sales people generating revenues and making the hard yards with hard-to-reach customers, us marketers wouldn’t have a job to do and couldn’t pay the mortgage.
We need each other.
But do we trust each other?
Bridge just conducted a survey of B2B sales and marketing professionals which found that in the pecking order, marketers respect sales more than salespeople respect marketing. This doesn’t surprise me at all. In my years working roles supporting sales teams I was regularly reminded that running a cost centre is less ‘honourable’ than delivering revenues to the company. In fact, I was sometimes advised by people to consider a move into sales if I wanted to achieve proper respect and career progression.
As sad and infuriating as this can be, it perhaps reflects a lack of understanding between two equally important functions. In Bridge’s research it was clear that the majority of sales people consider marketing to be more about delivering tactical value, than strategic impact. Far fewer marketers consider sales to be a purely tactical function.
This lack of understanding reflects a genuine absence of relationship between the two functions. In some sales organisations I have supported from a marketing perspective there was a very real problem that marketing-generated leads were ignored or discounted, or simply claimed as pre-existing sales-generated opportunities. And yes, some of the leads marketing deliver really aren’t worth the effort of putting them into Salesforce.
So there’s bit of a problem here. But does it even matter? Is this simply the type of dysfunctional relationship you come to expect between close siblings who have no option but to co-exist within the same family? Or is it something more important? Is this something that’s holding back critical business growth?
I’d say the latter. Aligning Sales and Marketing strategically, and tactically around joint purpose and success is the only way to drive growth and realise return from investments in both people and programmes. And it’s possible.
In one my current roles there is an amazing level of respect between sales and marketing. Sales people seem to recognise how marketing delivers for them, and the marketing team enthusiastically focuses on supporting the critical role that sales people play in…well, selling and closing. We collaborate properly, we share data and track everything. We’re prepared to make changes when things don’t work.
This is the way it should be. But many organisations struggle to get to this level of harmony. They need help. They need a bridge between sales and marketing. And it’s in our grasp to make that happen.