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Online Exclusive: The Challenge of Integrating Product Silos and Marketing Channels in BTB

Business-to-business sellers tend to maintain separate marketing territories, where salespeople or sales agents have non-overlapping territories.

Quite often, this logic applies to product silos and marketing channels. Telesales may be serving a different market space than field sales, which may be different from direct mail or Web sales. The situation is further complicated when products from different silos are marketed separately. The product manager for widgets may create different catalogs and promotional materials than the product manager for thing-a-ma-bobs.

BTB culture, product offerings and sales efforts tend to promote a “separate but equal” philosophy. As a result, the benefits of cross-selling, upselling and maximizing the company's share of customer are difficult to achieve. Sales and marketing organizations tend to function as individual competing businesses, not as a coordinated team.

Because a CRM system can demonstrate that customers are buying across silos and across marketing channels, providing a single view of a customer's behavior across marketing channels and product silos can actually create more problems than it solves. Why?

Managers in a company focused primarily on its own internal turf battles will concentrate on the fact that other managers are selling to their customers. If they are compensated only on how their channel or silo performs, they will quickly learn the easy way to better results is through political maneuvers to get more sales counted as theirs rather than someone else's.

If integration of efforts among product silos and sales channels will benefit the company, and it nearly always will, then top managers must change how staff are judged and rewarded. Otherwise, better data systems will do little more than provide ammunition for local turf wars.

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