When Sales and Marketing Align: Impact on Performance
In this paper, the authors explore the impacts on performance from sales and marketing being aligned. One obvious fact is that without sales and marketing working to produce revenue, the business ceases to exist. Yet, conflicts between the two functions are to be expected given that salespeople wan to make quotas and solve customer problems while marketers want to build long-term customer relationships leading to organizational profitability.
Primary Drivers of Conflict between Sales and Marketing
A classic story is when salespeople rush to make their quota at the end of a quarter. Some salespeople might push products at an heavy discount in order to earn their commission. On the other side, marketers might try to sell bundled products in a manner that salespeople can't sell it to the customers because customers don't want it. These stories are not rare in businesses. A couple of drivers can explain the misalignment between sales and marketing:
• Sales feel like they are the ones on the line and that marketing often lacks credibility. On the other hand, marketing feels they are ignored because the behind the scenes efforts are important too.
• Sales tend to be shorter term and customer focused whereas marketing focus is more on the longer term, looking for incremental profit margins, marketing campaigns, branding and product development.
• Salespeople need to achieve sales, which is the only key measure for success for the sales force. This pursuit might sometimes hurt profit margins. Marketing wants to see an increase in sales results but not at the expense of profitability.
• Attribution for sales results is often a point of disagreement. Salespeople argue that they are the main function generation revenue whereas marketers think that their implementation of a strategy is the main revenue driver. This is reinforced by a perception from salespeople that believes marketing is out of touch with customers and marketers that believe salespeople have no clue as to what is occurring in the larger markets.
• Salespeople complain that they are given too many low quality leads while marketers complain about lousy feedback from the field. One study found that up to 70% of leads generated by marketing are not pursued by sales.
• Finally, given that salespeople and marketers don't have much exposition in each other field, a lack of common vocabulary and a lack of experience can lead to conflict. For example, for salespeople a lead is a prospect expressing interest in a product while marketing may qualify something else as a lead.