Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry (to the Sales Folks)

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Valentine’s Day always reminds us that marketing and sales struggle with their symbiotic relationship. They don’t always feel the love. Cupid’s arrows have been missing the mark, possibly due to cultural differences and the lack of a shared conceptual vocabulary. The ongoing adversity hasn’t yielded to the usual peace offerings.

It’s time to try something different. We propose the following process framework:

  1. Marketing generates superior quality sales leads.
  2. Marketing delivers those leads to sales while both organizations watch a romantic, tear-jerker movie. The shared experience should engender tender feelings, leaving nary a dry eye in the house. (“Must be getting those early spring allergies again …”)
  3. The sales folks convert the leads to revenue with relative ease.
  4. Marketing and sales give each other group hugs. Tears abound, in spite of best efforts to hide them. (“Sorry, but I just chopped up an onion.”)

We think a great movie for step 2 is Love Story, based on a novel by Erich Segal. Hearts always melt at the sight of 30-ish Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal struggling to overcome adversity while maintaining their passion. Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

As with any romantic relationship, each organization needs to make meaningful commitments to the other. Marketing needs to focus on:

  • Understanding, defining and measuring demand generation processes.
  • Managing with data instead of intuition and educated guesses.
  • Using insights from data to generate high quality leads for the sales team.
  • Using modern demand generation methodologies: nurturing leads, offering compelling marketing collateral, adopting sophisticated scoring algorithms and optimizing Internet platforms and assets.
  • Listening carefully to feedback from sales by making them full partners in the process improvement effort and, when appropriate, implementing worthwhile recommendations.

On the sales side, commitments should include:

  • Following up reliably and quickly on leads passed from marketing.
  • Providing constructive feedback to marketing when leads don’t result in sales.
  • Using CRM or other automation platforms to record valuable information about the disposition of every lead.
  • Acknowledging that both organizations are part of a unified selling process that works better when everyone feels the love.

This relationship is actually like a marriage. It’s not perfect, nor should anyone expect it to be. There will always be disagreements and arguments. Resolving differences while maintaining mutual respect is normal and necessary. (Chocolate also helps a lot.) These organizations depend on each other for survival, if not prosperity.

When will both sides realize that they’ve reached some level of business nirvana? Probably when they understand that love means never having to say you’re sorry.

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