Sales and Marketing – Align, Define and Make Money

The word misalign is defined as, “positioning or arranging something improperly in relation to something else.” Sounds like too many sales and marketing departments in corporate America. Even though the two departments share the same corporate office, the approach to engaging potential clients and existing customers is often disjointed. Here are six key areas of misalignment that cost companies lots of money each year:

1. The marketing message doesn’t match the customer’s need.

Sales managers need to ask the marketing department to join their sales teams on daily calls and meetings. Marketing surveys and focus groups are good for research, but meeting with prospects and customers at their place of business is better. “Ride-a-longs,” as we call them in sales, is the best place for identifying needs and gaps in the company’s product/service offering. It’s the day-to-day interaction with prospects and customers that provide real-world data for identifying opportunities, challenges, and trends in the industry.

2. There is a call to action and but no training for the sales team.

The marketing program is working; leads are being generated, the right prospects are calling, and the new product launch looks like a success…until the phone is picked up by the untrained salesperson. The salesperson has received no education in building rapport on the telephone and has no well-crafted value proposition about the new product. The result is a beautiful marketing campaign with less than desirable sales results. Lots of money has been invested on the front-end of the marketing campaign to create opportunities, and zero money has been invested on the back-end to insure that sales can close the opportunity.

3. The marketing message doesn’t reach the real decision maker.

Business changed after 9/11 and the Dot Com Bust. Changes included more people, different people, and a shift in the power of each buying influence. Companies continue to market to old buying influences because the sales team is too busy selling to sit down with marketing to discuss:

– Who is buying.

– Why they are buying.

– New pain points.

– Decision criteria.

The company is aggressively marketing…to the wrong people. Imagine going duck hunting in New York City…

4. The marketing message doesn’t match the follow-up by the salesperson.

How many of you have received literature on an exclusive resort or high-end product? The marketing program worked until you called to place your order. The salesperson on the telephone line doesn’t sound exclusive, can’t answer basic questions, and frankly, isn’t that enthused about their own product/service. Enthusiasm and confidence is contagious and in this case, the salesperson has driven you to, “I better keep looking.”

Ever experienced this one? Your marketing message promises that your consultants are “professional and knowledgeable,” but marketing and sales have not met to determine what “professional and knowledgeable” looks like on a sales call. For example:

– Professional: If the sales meeting requires a leave behind, does the marketing piece coincide with the prices you are charging? If your salesperson is a professional, are they showing up for the appointment five minutes early and in a suit that fits? Yes, I am tired of seeing too short, too tight or too big in the conference room.

– Knowledgeable: Has the organization figured out the FAQ’s in your industry? Does the sales team know the answers? What about competitive analysis? Does the salesperson know the gaps in the competition’s service offering so he/she can better position the call?

5. Using email marketing and follow-up by sales.

Email is an inexpensive way to drip market to prospects. Prospects responding to email versus other types of marketing require a different type of follow-up. Traditionally, salespeople immediately pick up the phone to follow up on the lead. The email prospect doesn’t want a phone call and is often turned off by this type of follow-up. The marketing is generating a response; however, the effectiveness of the campaign is diminished because of an ineffective follow-up plan.

6. Good repeat customers are ignored and the focus is on new business development only.

Everyone in business knows it’s more profitable to grow an existing account than to prospect for new business. When working with sales teams on strategic account management, I often hear, “I’m not sure if my customers know about our full service offerings.” That is a sales problem and a marketing problem. Marketing can assist sales by making sure customers are aware of the depth and breadth offered by the organization through articles, special events, newsletters, direct mail, emails, etc. Sales can follow up by setting up business review meetings to discuss other products and services offered by the organization.

Align your sales and marketing organization. Togetherness is not just for romance – it’s a very good way to make money.

The Sales and Marketing SWOT Analysis

The S.W.O.T. Analysis, where you evaluate your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, is well known in the business planning process. Many companies use this method during strategic planning exercises as a way to form strategies and make decisions on new business ventures or initiatives. It is powerful because it looks at both internal (strengths, weaknesses) and external (opportunities, threats) forces.

As powerful as the S.W.O.T. Analysis is for business planning, it is equally powerful in sales and marketing decision-making. By employing this traditional tool to each of your sales and marketing activities, you can take advantage of your strengths, uncover new opportunities, minimize your weaknesses, and eliminate your threats in amazing ways. That is, however, only if you can be objective. Otherwise, the exercise falls flat.

While the S.W.O.T. Analysis can be applied to decisions about business planning, product development and other strategic decision-making tasks, consider using it for the following two sales and marketing activities:

1. Deciding Marketing Vehicles: Use the S.W.O.T. Analysis to evaluate each marketing vehicle in your marketing plan. This will allow you to focus marketing efforts on the vehicles where you have the most advantage or opportunity and the most minimal amount of weakness or threat.

2. Developing Sales Presentation/Proposals: Apply the S.W.O.T. Analysis to the development of each of your sales presentations and proposals. Be sure to focus the analysis on evaluating each section based on issues specific to the customer you are pitching.

As you approach your S.W.O.T. Analysis, consider the following questions.

  • Strengths: What advantages does your company/product have that no one else has? What makes you most unique? Focus on those things that make your offer most compelling to a prospect or customer.
  • Weaknesses: Where can you improve? Where have you made mistakes in the past? What do you not have that other companies/products in your industry have? Focus on those things that most detract from your offer.
  • Opportunities: What trends lend to your strengths? What is the potential “expansion” potential over time? Opportunities are external factors that represent why your company exists or should/can growth.
  • Threats: What challenges do you face? What are your competitors doing? What is the overall competitive landscape? Threats are external forces that could impact your success, such as competition, operational capacity, cost of goods increases, etc.
  • No matter the purpose, using the S.W.O.T. analysis can force thoughtful, strategic, and creative thinking. And, when used properly, the S.W.O.T. Analysis not only helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, but it also helps you determine your strategies for addressing each.

    What IS the Difference Between Marketing and Sales?

    There seems to be a never ending argument among marketing and

    sales professionals as to what really is the difference between

    marketing and sales functions. More often than not, both

    business activity terms are used to describe any business

    activity that is involved in increasing revenues. For small

    businesses, with limited resources, there often is no practical

    difference in marketing and sales functions, all revenue

    generating activities are typically implemented by the same


    As a company grows in revenues and number of personnel, it

    typically follows a logical business function progression of

    “specialization”, a process where the lines between more

    generic, departmental descriptions and functions became much

    more definitive and associated functional responsibilities

    become much more focused. Marketing and sales functions are no


    Marketing and sales functions are diverse yet very

    interdependent. Typically “sales” cannot exceed revenue

    objectives without an effective marketing planning and support,

    and “marketing” directives ultimately becomes useless without

    sales to implement the plan.

    Like many complex business issues, it is sometimes easier to

    define something by what it’s NOT as it is to define it by what

    it is. Let’s take a closer look at marketing to better define

    what sales is not.

    Simply defining “marketing” as the “Four P’s”, product, price,

    place and promotion, based on your Marketing 101 class in

    college is not practical in today’s global markets. In a

    general sense, marketing is more theoretic than sales, focused

    on purchase causality and is more prescriptive in purpose than

    descriptive. Marketing involves micro and macro market analysis

    focused on strategic intentions where sales is driven more by

    tactical challenges and customer relations. Let’s take a closer

    look at how marketing is truly different from sales:

    Marketing responsibilities are distinct from sales in that


    * Establishes and justifies the company’s best competitive

    position within a market

    * Initially creates, helps sustain, and rigorously interprets

    customer relationships

    * Locates and profiles potential markets and key participants


    * Generates quality sales leads

    * Develops effective selling tools

    * Formally analyzes and tracks competitor’s business strategies

    and tactics

    * Defines, prioritizes and justifies new product or service

    improvements and developments

    * Promotes an explicit company product or service image

    * Facilitates information transfer from customers to the rest of

    the company

    * Simplifies the customer’s product or service procurement


    A full time Marketing Manager would be responsible for the

    following tasks:

    New Product Rollouts:

    Strategy development, program incentives, timing and media


    Agency Evaluation:

    Selection and evaluation of outside marketing contractors

    Customer Database Management:

    Software selection, training, maintenance of customer contact


    Market Research:

    Market definition, prioritization, project management, data


    Pricing Analysis:

    Pricing as a marketing tool…initiate and analyze competitor’s

    pricing practices

    Product Audits:

    Establishment of a formal means to evaluate competitive


    Public Relations:

    Establishment, guidance and coordination of all areas of public


    Trade Shows:

    Definition, participation, prioritization and audit for

    effectiveness of all trade shows

    Product Promotions:

    Strategy formulation, program composition, premium definition,

    all media coverage

    Marketing Communications:

    All printed / electronic communication: brochures, catalogs,

    price lists, case histories

    Media Selection:

    Assist in selection and prioritization of all media options:

    print, broadcast, multimedia

    Internal Communications:

    Establish and maintain all inter-company corporate communication


    International Marketing:

    Establish company presence in targeted international markets,

    audit for effectiveness

    Strategic Planning:

    Offer strategic information and alternative insights to

    corporate management strategies

    Board Meeting Participation:

    Communicate and reinforce the company marketing priorities,

    strategies and tactics

    Corporate Vision Statement:

    Proliferate and reinforce the corporate vision throughout the


    Corporate Identity and Image:

    Create, maintain, improve and “manage” all corporate images and


    To a “pure” marketer, the marketing role in a company is not

    just a business function, but a business philosophy. An

    effective marketer truly believes “dominating” their target

    market is “owning” their market. The more a marketer can do to

    maintain market leadership the more effective they are

    perceived within the organization and within the industry.

    As customer retention has become more of a business priority in

    our intensifying competitive markets, the marketing function

    has evolved from influencing potential customers to involving

    them the company’s business planning and advancement. Effective

    marketing also has blurred the distinction between product and

    service and continues to apply more influence on the company’s

    sales representation priorities.

    In conclusion, marketing and sales functions are deeply rooted

    in each other’s purpose and revenue growth intentions. There

    are few functional areas in business that relate more to each

    other. So the next time you hear someone say the word “sales”,

    when the appropriate description would have been “marketing”,

    or vise versa, think of this article and choose from any one of

    these documented business functions to make your point of


    Sales & Marketing Alignment From an Insider

    Yes – lead definition, digital scoring, marketing automation, qualification, recycling, service level agreements, closed-loop reporting, and dashboards foster sales and marketing alignment… to a point. Do you want to know how to take alignment to the next level?

    With either dedicated in-house, or outsourced lead generation (market development, sales development) people, did you know you can:

    • Accelerate demand
    • Nurture and convert more leads
    • Increase brand awareness
    • Know more about your market
    • Build a stable bridge between sales and marketing

    Lead Generation Representatives (LGRs) should attend both sales and marketing department weekly meetings or calls to increase communication. In relation to scaling, on average, one LGR can typically support 3-6 sales representatives (SRs). Of course, more strategic tag team endeavors to get into complex enterprise accounts require more collaboration, and in such cases one LGR would be able to support 3 to 4 SRs.

    Over the course of a decade and a half, my thinking has evolved about how the right LGR commission plan drives better sales and marketing alignment.

    Having an in-house team to which you pay base salaries, and commission based on the number of scheduled or completed appointments, or leads (passed or accepted) is counterproductive, encourages the wrong behaviors, and ultimately wastes time. Instead, you should have a commission plan that syncs with sales revenue goals and pays out a monthly percentage of closed deals. With this, you may need to increase base salary somewhat to retain skilled personnel for long term gains.

    While you may receive a higher quantity of leads with the numbers model, the closed deal percentage model will result in higher quality sales-ready leads from follow-up on marketing generated leads (events attended, items downloaded, completed forms, inbound calls, etc.) and outbound efforts.

    Your LGRs will:

    • Be extremely motivated to reach decision makers in order to build greater value and trust
    • Qualify more stringently
    • Create more excitement about your products or services and schedule a mutual discovery call or meeting with your SRs to advance the relationship
    • Know what happens to all leads
    • Provide feedback and insights on which marketing campaigns work best

    While maintaining activity volume requirements, LGRs should attend the calls or meetings they arrange for SRs to increase their knowledge base, gain a deeper understanding of customers, qualify better, generally improve, and strengthen the bond with sales. As part of sales onboarding, new SRs should listen in on LGRs calls.

    Allow LGRs the freedom to communicate with the SRs with whom they work in order to foster an environment of cooperation and a “we win together” attitude.

    Utilize the aforementioned suggestions for:

    • Better lead acceptance
    • Improved organization morale
    • Increased sales productivity
    • More deals
    • Profitable revenue growth results
    • Sales and marketing alignment like never before