Companies are faced with three core tasks, and one of these is marketing. This task demands standardized management to be fully effective, and splitting it into two areas complicates things unnecessarily. At a time when barriers to markets and customers are increasingly being broken down, companies will soon no longer be able to afford such an an ineffective approach.
Sales and marketing – like a divorced couple If two people are responsible for the same task, this almost inevitably leads to a lack of clarity and to frustration. Quite simply, it's a bad idea.
Tasks traditionally assigned to marketing include branding, external communication, (usually ambiguously defined) demand generation and (rather unwillingly) lead generation. Sales takes on these (mostly unsatisfactorily) qualified leads or tries (at considering cost) to generate its own while battling hard to achieve the sales target for the next quarter. Marketing teams often accuse sales teams of focusing too little attention on the leads that they have given and not adhering to the defined rules, while sales teams are usually dissatisfied with the quality of the leads and the operational support provided by marketing teams.
For several decades now, sales and marketing departments have tended to act like divorced married couple for sole custody of a child. It's high time to put an end to this split.
Why are sales and marketing essentially the same task? In the past when sales was a process controlled by the provider and potential customers remained anonymous until they came into contact with sales staff, sales and marketing did indeed tackle different tasks. Marketing was charged with ensuring that the provider and its products were visible on the market, while sales was responsible for foster contacts with specific potential customers. Today's markets, however, follow different rules. Key differences include:
- Buyers are no longer reliant on the provider when they want information on its products and services. They use the information they find online or via social media.
- In other words, buyers are in control of the buying process. They tend to contact the provider with a ready-made shortlist and there is usually at a stage much further along the buying process than before.
- However, they do come into contact with the provider during the information phase by accessing the company's website and using the information provided in other places on the Net. During this research process, buyers leave paths and are no longer anonymous.
The buying process, ie the steps a buyer takes to produce a solution, involves the following phases:
- Review options, search for ideas (awareness)
- Goal definition
- Research and detailed specification of requirements
- Agreement negotiation
The provider's task is to adapt his marketing and sales activities to the customer's buying process so that he is better than all the competitors in each of these phases. His marketing process must compose the following phases:
- Brand management
- Thought-leadership activities
- Lead nurturing
- Agreement negotiation
- Business relationship management
In terms of the division of responsibilities between sales and marketing, the largest difference between activities now and in the past lies in the phase of lead nurturing. This task must now be taken on by marketing. And, as it is the most important task (and the most time-consuming one apart from the general brand strengthening activities), this shift has a major impact on the entire go-to-market strategy and describes a separate blog article.
Sales and marketing – a single design for higher revenue As marketing is responsible for a large part of communication with buyers today, companies will inevitably have to redesign their marketing process. It will have to be a fully integrated process, and both teams – sales and marketing – will be forced to agree on a shared design.
A good starting point would be to identify common goals and to determine methods of measuring goal achievement. It will be very important (and probably much more difficult than may first appear) to agree on uniform definitions: What form should a common marketing funnel take? What is a lead? Which scoring rules should apply? Which data should be collected and how should it be analyzed?
This concept should aim at achieving a holistic revenue cycle and a shared structure with an agreed division of tasks and a clearly defined handover process.
The most forward-thinking companies (primarily in the US) are putting an end to this division between sales and marketing by appointing a single manager to coordinate these tasks. The new man or woman at the top is often known as the Chief Revenue Officer and is responsible for all activities that are geared towards achieving revenue that is as high and profitable as possible. My recommendation would be to place both areas under the responsibility of a single C-level manager before starting with the conceptualization process.
Is customer support part of the marketing process? It is no coincidence that I have included the utilization phase and (hopefully) the ongoing business relationship phase in the marketing process. If the goal of the revenue cycle is to consistently maximize sales, activities aimed at managing existing customer relationships play a key role in this process.
Does this mean, therefore, that customer support should also come under the remit of the Chief Revenue Officer? The answer to this question will depend on the company under consideration but should be positive whenever it's possible.