Marketing Vs. Sales – Ending the Turf Wars
In an ideal world, sales teams and marketing folks should be best buddies. In this ideal world, business would come easily, profit would grow on trees and everyone would hug at the end of the day. Ok, back to the real world.
It is not uncommon for sales and marketing departments to have divergent agendas. This can range from teams that simply argue over details to outright hostility. When the atmosphere is closer to the latter, this type of culture can seriously effect business development efforts, increase sales costs and generally make everyone’s lives miserable.
Bringing these teams together to create a three hundred and sixty degree information cycle is critical to achieving superior growth. Sales should constantly provide feedback to marketing and marketing should reciprocate with tactics and strategies that support the sale methodology. That was easy to say but how do you make it happen?
The key is implement fair and transparent processes throughout the planning and execution efforts. This creates a culture of trust and commitment that motivates people to execute the strategy and embrace it of their own accord. Without a fair and transparent process, there is distrust, non-cooperation and in some extreme cases, sabotage.
A fair process engages all players from the beginning and continues to engage them throughout the execution of the strategy. When I work with companies, I not only invite the executive team to planning sessions, I insist on including the people who will carry out the strategy – from marketing directors and assistants to sales people and support personnel. In these sessions, titles are checked at the door and everyone gets equal input and the opportunity to present their ideas and opinions.
I encourage all participants to refute anyone’s ideas or assumptions without negative consequences to strengthen the level of discourse and enhance collective wisdom. By allowing people to speak freely and by engaging them in the strategic process, management can show people that they and their ideas are respected.
This is not to say that every thought and idea of those present will ultimately make it into the final strategy. Management and executive teams still make the final decisions.
The primary purpose of the process is to ensure that all parties fully understand the reasoning behind the strategy, the standards set for success and what is expected of everyone. Another benefit is gaining insight and ideas from individuals who are directly involved in carrying out the strategy, thus avoiding strategies that don’t align with the day to day realities of the front lines of business.
Utilizing the traditional “top down” approach doesn’t create a sense of ownership and is often counter productive to execution. When people feel that they are valuable contributors to the success of the organization with communication lines open and clear, mutual respect is achieved and execution is voluntary. Besides, even the janitor might have a million dollar idea.