Sales and Marketing – Align, Define and Make Money

The word misalign is defined as, “positioning or arranging something improperly in relation to something else.” Sounds like too many sales and marketing departments in corporate America. Even though the two departments share the same corporate office, the approach to engaging potential clients and existing customers is often disjointed. Here are six key areas of misalignment that cost companies lots of money each year:

1. The marketing message doesn’t match the customer’s need.

Sales managers need to ask the marketing department to join their sales teams on daily calls and meetings. Marketing surveys and focus groups are good for research, but meeting with prospects and customers at their place of business is better. “Ride-a-longs,” as we call them in sales, is the best place for identifying needs and gaps in the company’s product/service offering. It’s the day-to-day interaction with prospects and customers that provide real-world data for identifying opportunities, challenges, and trends in the industry.

2. There is a call to action and but no training for the sales team.

The marketing program is working; leads are being generated, the right prospects are calling, and the new product launch looks like a success…until the phone is picked up by the untrained salesperson. The salesperson has received no education in building rapport on the telephone and has no well-crafted value proposition about the new product. The result is a beautiful marketing campaign with less than desirable sales results. Lots of money has been invested on the front-end of the marketing campaign to create opportunities, and zero money has been invested on the back-end to insure that sales can close the opportunity.

3. The marketing message doesn’t reach the real decision maker.

Business changed after 9/11 and the Dot Com Bust. Changes included more people, different people, and a shift in the power of each buying influence. Companies continue to market to old buying influences because the sales team is too busy selling to sit down with marketing to discuss:

- Who is buying.

- Why they are buying.

- New pain points.

- Decision criteria.

The company is aggressively marketing…to the wrong people. Imagine going duck hunting in New York City…

4. The marketing message doesn’t match the follow-up by the salesperson.

How many of you have received literature on an exclusive resort or high-end product? The marketing program worked until you called to place your order. The salesperson on the telephone line doesn’t sound exclusive, can’t answer basic questions, and frankly, isn’t that enthused about their own product/service. Enthusiasm and confidence is contagious and in this case, the salesperson has driven you to, “I better keep looking.”

Ever experienced this one? Your marketing message promises that your consultants are “professional and knowledgeable,” but marketing and sales have not met to determine what “professional and knowledgeable” looks like on a sales call. For example:

- Professional: If the sales meeting requires a leave behind, does the marketing piece coincide with the prices you are charging? If your salesperson is a professional, are they showing up for the appointment five minutes early and in a suit that fits? Yes, I am tired of seeing too short, too tight or too big in the conference room.

- Knowledgeable: Has the organization figured out the FAQ’s in your industry? Does the sales team know the answers? What about competitive analysis? Does the salesperson know the gaps in the competition’s service offering so he/she can better position the call?

5. Using email marketing and follow-up by sales.

Email is an inexpensive way to drip market to prospects. Prospects responding to email versus other types of marketing require a different type of follow-up. Traditionally, salespeople immediately pick up the phone to follow up on the lead. The email prospect doesn’t want a phone call and is often turned off by this type of follow-up. The marketing is generating a response; however, the effectiveness of the campaign is diminished because of an ineffective follow-up plan.

6. Good repeat customers are ignored and the focus is on new business development only.

Everyone in business knows it’s more profitable to grow an existing account than to prospect for new business. When working with sales teams on strategic account management, I often hear, “I’m not sure if my customers know about our full service offerings.” That is a sales problem and a marketing problem. Marketing can assist sales by making sure customers are aware of the depth and breadth offered by the organization through articles, special events, newsletters, direct mail, emails, etc. Sales can follow up by setting up business review meetings to discuss other products and services offered by the organization.

Align your sales and marketing organization. Togetherness is not just for romance – it’s a very good way to make money.