Over the years, we’ve worked with many different companies—both large and small—in many different industries. One of the things we have observed is that combining the positions of Director of Sales and Director of Marketing can be counterproductive when trying to align the two teams to work towards the organization’s goals. While a strategic combination of sales and marketing is essential to business success, merging these two fundamentally different groups by giving them a single leader can undermine efforts in both arenas.
A wise business consultant we’ve worked with puts it this way…sales is about the present and marketing is about the future. While it may be easy to quibble with some of the implications of that statement, it captures an important truth. Sales professionals are, by necessity, focused on the near-term. They are generally working with ambitious goals and tight timelines, and there simply is little room on their plate for long-term strategic thinking.
When salespeople do become involved in marketing decisions, their focus is often—if understandably—on a few items they hope will drive people to take action now; making the headline louder or the logo bigger, for example. What they tend not to consider, however, is that each piece is part of a bigger plan that could be undermined by a short-term perspective.
Perhaps a certain subtlety in a marketing message or design reflects the polished, understated image that a company is trying to project in order to differentiate itself from the competition. Making the logo bigger might (or might not) get more people in the door on a given weekend, but it can easily undermine a refined brand image that has been established over time.
A true marketing professional will understand this, and concern themselves with building a lasting relationship between their company and its audience of customers and prospects. This requires not only a different skillset from sales, but also a different mindset. Positioning a product or service correctly requires a thorough understanding of the entire space in which a company operates.
Knowing how competitors try to sell their products and services is key in creating an effective marketing strategy. While a good salesman will no doubt know how to sell against major competing products, he is unlikely to have the time or resources to develop that knowledge into a strategic plan of action. That’s where marketers earn their money. By analyzing the current landscape, they identify and emphasize the key differentiators that become effective selling points.
Asking one person to manage all that responsibility while running a successful sales engine may seem to have benefits in the short term, but it is a recipe for sub-par results in the long run. Many organizations have shifted their focus from a having a single Director of Sales and Marketing to improving the working relationship between the two departments. In this scenario the Director of Sales and the Director of Marketing come together to assess and align their departments' efforts in order to support and acheive one uniform goal for the company. When marketing and sales successfully work together, the payoff for companies is huge. According to a recent report by the Aberdeen Group, 74% of the organizations classified as Best-in-Class share the commonality of strong sales and marketing alignment.
Sales and marketing alignment is an idea whose time has come, and it could be easier to achieve than you think. For practical steps that any company can take to get its sales and marketing teams more in sync and working together, download our free eBook.