Bridging the Marketing and Sales Divide: Answers

Recap: Just one month into her new job, Jacqueline DuMonte already has had enough of the bickering between her sales and marketing teams. As SVP of sales and marketing at Digital Manufacturing, DuMonte needs to find a way to correct the situation and get marketing staffers and salespeople to focus on improving their results. She knows that change will start when communication improves.

So she scheduled a meeting with marketing director Jose Beliz and sales manager Sheila Kim. Her objectives are to improve communications and to create alignment between marketing and sales so the two teams are working toward common goals.

But she wants to focus on the two or three most important first steps.

Click here to read the complete challenge.

October winner: Jack LaRue, senior vice president, Thomson Reuters

DuMonte, Kim, and Beliz, working together, should establish new monthly sales targets. If the sales team hits its monthly sales target, all members of the sales and marketing teams get a bonus, shared equally. The bonus doesn’t need to be large, but should be high enough that there’s a true reward for success and some genuine disappointment in failure. A plan like this can be designed to be revenue neutral against the historical norm. Outperform the norm and the employees have some upside. Underperform the norm and the employees experience some downside.

By doing this DuMonte has effectively placed the sales and marketing teams into the same lifeboat—they will either succeed or fail together. When problems arise, they will quickly learn that it is not productive to argue whose side of the boat the hole is on. Each will have a vested interest to do what they can to make the other perform better.

Another positive result of this action is that DuMonte will create 12 occasions per year where there’s an opportunity for the sales and marketing teams to celebrate victory together. When success is achieved, it’s truly shared. These celebrations may actually do more to improve the morale and camaraderie of both departments than the joy and financial benefits of receiving the bonus payments.

Other responses:

  • Dan McDade, CE O, PointClear

DuMonte should be worried about results, not morale or feelings. I suggest the following:

1. DuMonte gathers input from both marketing and sales on the definition of a lead—but ultimately she alone has to make the call about the definition of a lead and subsequently enforce it.

2. Next, she chairs a judicial branch that evaluates leads that have been sent to sales and not accepted within 48 hours. Sales must proactively accept or reject leads and if they reject them they must document why. Assuming the lead definition is accurate, it should be easy to determine whether or not a lead from marketing was qualified. The objective here is not to point fingers, it’s to calibrate output from marketing and sales effectiveness in following up on leads.

3. A significant percentage of sales-accepted leads should become sales qualified within a month. If they aren’t, the same judicial branch evaluates what’s going on, why, and it gets fixed. Any rogue employees have to go. Even a good salesperson should be terminated if he’s going to derail the process for all others.

  • Becky Rowland, marketing manager, Qualifa UK

DuMonte should use the following marketing and sales alignment strategy:

1. Define who does what, when, where, how, and why—starting with a discussion of past successes and failures. A process overview will provide greater insight as to the expectations of all involved in generating revenue for the company and the discussions will enable an understanding as to what type of communications strategy creates best opportunities.

2. Organize a team-building activity whereby members of both departments are mixed together to work toward a single objective (e.g. an email campaign to generate new leads). Not only will this strengthen relations between departments, but it will also reveal team dynamics and may unveil progressive ideas and project management methods that may then be used in future campaigns.

3. Invest in a system that provides open and transparent communication tracking at all stages of a client’s and lead’s lifecycle; it’s vital that all involved in generating revenue have insight into the entire sales pipeline, so that marketing campaign success can be measured and ROI can be optimized.

  • Bill McKenney, senior consultant, Lateral Group

DuMonte should consider the following points: Align on the vision. Yes, we all care about quality leads and sales, but align the two groups on a common focal point that is bigger than their immediate goals. Focus on the external things like what customers want, not on internal stuff like technologies or business processes. Align the vision/strategy/tactics; e.g., “Where we want to be, how we think we’ll get there with what we’ve got, and then what we’ll start doing today.”

Clearly understand and articulate each party’s goals. Both should understand the performance metrics of the other. In doing so, the three can jointly determine how to eliminate flaws or inhibitors to the vision. Most important, it should reveal where each group depends on the other for success, which can be the foundation of a discussion on how to better support each other.

Note the pain points for each. Review the things that can be done to improve now. Then jointly prioritize what’s to be tackled and by when. Then have Beliz and Kim share how they think they can help solve each pain point. Schedule weekly meetings to discuss status and new developments, as well as address roadblocks—this will keep both teams accountable and moving forward.

Communicate with the teams. Have Beliz and Kim share what was discussed with their teams jointly. Let this act as the final “handshake” between marketing and sales.

  • Tamara DeModica, president, TECC OMM

Schedule a mandatory meeting with marketing and sales. Explain the new parameters of working together with emphasis on job security. Then create a plan to develop skills in those whose abilities aren’t developed enough to accomplish these goals.

Organize teams of two to work together on client accounts and communicating with each other about their joint efforts. Schedule a weekly meeting for teams to discuss these efforts with the others. Reward the teams who are working together well.

After this new plan is in place, those not working well with others may need to be replaced. Continue these steps again until sales figures or client feedback improves, then establish the next direction at that point for the two departments with concentration on what methods worked well.

  • Peter J. Mendelson, CMO, Binder and Binder

Although marketing and sales are working from different functional goals, DuMonte needs to ensure that marketing and sales are aligned with the same objective: Driving sales to meet/exceed plan.

Marketing should meet with sales on a weekly basis to review robust feedback from the sales team on leads provided. If leads are off target this needs to be remedied immediately. Prospects may need to be filtered differently to ensure that they’re speaking with the decision maker at the appropriate time. If sales is in fact not closing appropriately, this also needs to be remedied by DuMonte. Finally, for now, a marketing representative should be present at all sales meetings with prospects. This will ensure that sales and marketing are aligned and hearing the feedback directly.

IT should intervene immediately to automatically populate the attribution field, crediting marketing for all leads that they have generated. Additionally, DeMonte should develop joint bonus sales targets, with total transparency for sales and marketing personnel.

  • Lawrence A. Tillinger, proprietor, SFLI

In the meeting, DeMonte should inform Beliz and Kim together that the responsibilities of their positions now include “to improve communications and to create alignment between marketing and sales so the two teams are working toward one set of common goals,” upon the achievement of which their job performance shall also be judged, for compensation, retention, and promotion.

DuMonte also should schedule a monthly interdepartmental meeting of all staffers for both marketing and sales in the form of a lunch that’s more a social event than a business meeting.

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