There is a famous marketing and sales love-hate relationship that many business writers and researchers have touted as the ultimate combative love story. A few weeks back we praised how sales and marketing need to align, but today we must level blame against the same concept. We are going to ruffle some feathers and declare that marketing shouldn’t align with sales. Instead, sales should align with marketing, in one specific way! This post combines insights from our Fortune 500 clients and quotes from our Customer Success team to shed new light on this complicated topic. Here’s our attempt to make sure that the marketing and sales love-hate story does not end up becoming a tragedy of Shakespearean scale in your organization.
Should marketing really align with sales?
Before you start objecting to the above question, read this first, “sales and marketing should align,” we cannot say it enough times. Here’s an article, like many others that puts this into perspective, “So, Sales and Marketing share more than just a C-level executive – they also share goals, technologies, and processes that allow them to monitor and optimize every stage of every sale, from first touch to closed deal.”
This however begs the question, “Can marketing really align its goals, technology, and processes with sales?” And our answer is a big NO! Here at 9Lenses, we use tools like HubSpot for inbound marketing, we use a different task management tool than the one sales uses, our goals are about creating brand awareness, and even scouting out leads for our Sales department.
More often than not, our (I’m in marketing) real allegiance lies with our customers (the actual market) and the product team. This is where the true and urgent need for intelligent marketing lies. Here’s what a few members of a global technology conglomerate said in one of our interview Apps:
“The marketing team is not tied to the product team. We need them to determine what the market needs or where the opportunities are and tie those to products or offerings the product teams can deliver. I see no connection between these teams at the moment.”
“Marketing needs to better understand the market dynamics, customer needs, and what tools/support the sales team needs for influencing the customers positively.”
“Aligning marketing to sales does not align our company to the customer!”
We asked more than 20,000 questions to different parts of the business and answers followed a similar theme:marketing really needs to align with the customer first!
Marketing needs to align with the customer
Let’s go down memory lane and look at our course material for Marketing Management. Modern marketing has its basis in Philip Kotler’s four Ps – Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. These four elements ultimately lead to one destination – the customer. This is precisely why marketing needs to align with the customer. rom finding the right markets to guiding the product team and to addressing market needs, marketing needs to pave the way for creating a “saleable” value proposition for the end-user
“When we looked at data from one Fortune 25’s 5,000-person strong and globally dispersed marketing organization, there was a fascinating finding around metrics. A subset were asked to name their most critical metrics, and the vast majority listed metrics oriented towards (aligned with) sales! Only 3% of the marketers named metrics that had to do with alignment towards customers. This slide dropped jaws to the floor as global CMOs realized what marketing had become… a sales parrot,” adds Isaiah McPeak, Director of Product Design & Marketing at 9Lenses.
Marketing needs to wear the pants!
There, we said it! Originally marketing and sales used to be grouped as one department, but thanks to modern and more technology-supported marketing, the two separated. Sometime down the line, people started to understand the dire need align the two functions, but went about this alignment the wrong way! This was almost a “misalignment” as marketing started reporting to sales.
After all, considering that marketing creates a “saleable” value proposition for the customers, shouldn’t marketing be directing the sales process and messaging? Today, companies are realizing that by aligning with sales, marketing has lost sight of what it truly needs to be doing. By reporting to sales, marketing often needed to resort to cliched gimmicks and cutesy tactics to attract customers. Which is a total loss of opportunity for both sales and marketing!
Marketing really needs to align sales and product to customer needs. This is the most important alignment needed.
Further more, thanks to an increasingly scientific approach to marketing, marketers are able to discover or “scout” potential leads and pass them on to sales. Let’s take a look at what Edwin Miller, CEO & Founder of 9Lenses said in one of his previous posts, 6 Ways Business is like Hunting. “In hunting you are searching through the woods for any paw prints, trails, or telltale signs of your game. In business, there are people who are great at smelling out leads. These people keep their nose to the ground and their eyes and ears open at all times. Their sharp intellect allows them to connect the dots and be foresighted about finding leads.” Here at 9Lenses, the marketing department plays a huge role in the scouting part. We are able to not only identify leads, but are also able to create messaging around a tailored value-proposition for a particular lead. Our sales team aligns with strategies based on the direction we at the marketing team provide.
Here’s a tip – Start from the your end market or user to reverse engineer your marketing and sales alignment process. You will find that marketing will emerge a natural leader that sales needs to follow. This will hopefully transform the historic marketing and sales love-hate relationship into a little more of a Disney style fairytale romance, rather than a Shakespearean tragedy of epic proportions!