Talk is Cheap and Not Talking Can Be Very Expensive

I can’t think of a better example of the total being greater than the sum of the parts than when sales and marketing are working together. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way it normally happens. In many companies it is “sales” and “marketing” and not “sales and marketing.” My point is not that sales and marketing don’t communicate.  I am referring to the lack of coordination and collaboration beginning with the first step and continuing through the company’s life.

In my experience, the shortcoming is rarely the result of people in either organization not wanting to work with the other. What I have typically seen is the opposite. Sales is looking for help from marketing and marketing would like a little assistance from the sales people in the field.  So, although they want to work together and may be talking, why isn’t there more collaboration going on?

My experience suggests the problem lies in their process. Roles and activities are not clearly defined. This leads to uncertainty; which in turn makes it difficult to align organizations. To work our way through the fog, I have listed a few steps which serve as early steps to better collaboration.

Follow a process and share that process with the rest of the team

It is always easiest for groups to work together when they know what the people in the other groups are doing. Knowing your process gives them the specifics they need. It isn’t good enough to know the people in Sales are selling. They need to know how it is being done.

Determine what information you need

There is customer information marketing will need to segment the market and to develop the marketing strategy. Sales needs customer information to establish and refine the ideal customer criteria. Determine, specifically, what you need so you can communicate it to others.

Develop a joint plan for collecting data

Sales and Marketing are now ready to collaborate. Share your needs. Your counterparts in the other group might already have information you need or they may be better suited to getting it. For example, common methods of collecting customer data include: interviews, customer observations, complaints, surveys, focus groups, and market research. Looking at this list, the sales team might be the right team to work the first three and the marketing team the latter three.  Work together to develop a comprehensive data collection plan.

Two important points about collecting customer information; your plan needs to be continuous and use multiple methods. The teamwork approach enhances your abilities to do both of these well.

Share data and analyze it together

As data is collected, the marketing and sales teams should meet to review and analyze the data. This accomplishes several things. First, it ensures everyone responsible for interacting with a customer has access to the same information. Next, it helps align customer-oriented activities. When everyone understands the data behind the customer segmentation, the marketing approach, the ideal customer criteria, and the sales process, the team knows the why behind the direction being taken. Understanding leads to greater participation and initiative.  Consequently, the sales and marketing plan is strengthened.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that Sales and Marketing should work closely together. The problem is, we typically only begin working together somewhere down the line instead of out of the gate. Back up, begin at defining and analyzing. This is the first step to building your “sales and marketing” team.

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