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How do we align sales and marketing?

By Andrew Dalglish -

Ever looked at our cousins in FMCG marketing with a little jealousy?  Eyed their big budgets with envy?  Coveted their influence in a world where marketing is central to organisational success?

Maybe not, but you’ve probably glanced across your own office and felt similar feelings towards sales.  At least you will have done if you’re anything like the 100 B2B marketing leaders Circle recently surveyed as part of the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum.

Two thirds (62%) of these senior marketers feel the sales function dominates in their organisation and holds a status akin to that of marketers in FMCG environments.

Of all the findings revealed in the survey, that struck me most.  Not because it’s an issue in itself, but because these two critical functions are often mis-aligned as a result.  Not a rare occurrence.  The B2B Barometer finds that 79% of B2B organisations experience such a disconnect; 28% describe the mis-alignment as “significant”.

The impact of this is serious.  Marketing leaders tell us that morale suffers as internal tensions run high (34%).  The brand suffers as inconsistent messages are sent (43%).  Most importantly, the bottom line suffers as leads aren’t fully nurtured (61%).

Madness when we consider that sales and marketing share exactly the same goal – generating profitable revenue.

That’s not to say marketing leaders are accepting this disagreeable status quo.

Here the much lauded panacea, the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), doesn’t even get a look in.  Indeed, a mere 1% of marketing leaders feel this is a viable solution.

Rather the issue is being approached more as a cultural change project – common ground is being sought and used as the basis for closer collaboration.  Marketing leaders are setting shared goals with their opposite number in sales (67%).  They’re aligning resources around these goals (47%).  And they’re tracking performance to create visibility and, importantly, accountability (48%).

Refreshingly positive steps in relation to an age old problem.

Read more about our approach to business-to-business (B2B) marcoms and advertising research.

What’s your experience?  Any tips for aligning sales and marketing?  Share them in the comments box below…

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1 Comment

  1. John Crawford

    Marketing is an ambiguous term. If you mean advertising, branding, or direct response, then for B2B there is no conflict because advertising is and has always been a sales tool. This means the sales manager or his boss has final say and the reason is sound, it is he or she (including staff) that communicates to the customer providing critical inputs.

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