Why do the Marketing and Sales departments always have to be at odds, blaming each other for poor results? That’s the way it is in so many businesses. But it doesn’t have to be. As a company leader, you just want them to work together and get more sales, right? When the two symbiotic functions are working properly, they mesh like gears - Growth Gears - cranking out more sales power than either can produce separately. Take a brief ride with me to explore a model for making this work.
The democratization of marketing technology has made marketing tactics at almost any size business accessible and measurable. At the same time, the Buyer’s Journey has changed, increasing marketing’s role in prospect engagement. As a result, the success metrics for marketing have become increasingly blurry. Are marketers responsible for attracting eyeballs or reeling in likely prospects? Investment out or revenue in? And who owns the company’s go-to-market strategy?
Because a marketer’s traditional currency has been eyeballs or lead volume, the sales department often complains that too many of the marketing-driven leads are unqualified. When unfocused and uncoordinated tactics (I’ve often called them “random acts of marketing”) don’t result in the volume of qualified leads the sales department needs to meet its goal, the marketing department is the convenient pariah to blame for poor results.
At the same time, marketers often see sales pros as poor stewards of their lead incubation efforts. They see sales team members as a group of unfocused free agents -- doing things on their own, making up their own value proposition stories, and not following a clear sales process or strategy.
Successful companies have to end this push and pull between marketing and sales, aligning them on a similar path to growth without lumping them into one. This challenge prompted the leadership at Chief Outsiders to develop a simple and understandable model of what is really a complex and detailed process for Strategic Marketing.
The Chief Outsiders’ Growth Gears model – a go-to-market philosophy outlined in a book of the same name by Chief Outsiders’ principals Art Saxby and Pete Hayes -- asserts that, like a bicycle with one speed, if you only have one gear your only option is to pedal harder to go faster. Such is the case with purely tactical marketing, or an unfocused strategy around sales. If the only marketing gear you have spins out tactics like advertising, sales collateral, trade shows, events, search engine marketing; and the only sales gear tries to gain traction around every live lead that comes along, you’ll have to spend more to get more – and at some point you’ll reach a point of diminishing returns.
Adding gears to your bike allows the rider to go faster without having to pedal harder. Let’s apply the analogy to marketing and sales:
Of course, getting these gears to mesh requires constant focus – a virtuous cycle that requires sales and marketing to communicate consistently. Sales should be feeding back to marketing what they’re learning in hand-to-hand combat – taking what they’ve learned in the field about customers, competition, pricing, new products, and helping marketing understand what customers are looking for.
These additional observations ensure that Insights become sharper. This allows marketers to refine strategies and better qualify leads. The more information that is flowing through the three growth gears, the better the outcomes.
But with sales-marketing misalignment, getting the gears to mesh in this manner can require Lance Armstrong-style precision. Doing it on your own can often seem futile. At Chief Outsiders, we have two roles – Fractional Chief Marketing Officer and Fractional Chief Sales, that are adept at building go-to-market strategies using the Growth Gears and creating harmony among the cross-functional disciplines.
Even the best Salespeople and Sales Department will be much more effective at bringing in profitable new revenue if they are driven by a true understanding of the customer and market which is then used to create a clear and focused strategy along with effective and efficient marketing execution that delivers truly qualified leads.
Are your Growth Gears cranking out the leads and sales you need to achieve your growth goals? I welcome your comments and thoughts.