At the recent IDC Directions 2010 conference – there was a lot of buzz about the Sales and Marketing disconnect in organizations and one of the phrases that caught my attention was – ‘Sales is from Mars and Marketing from Venus’.
I have discussed a couple of times on this blog, on how sales and marketing teams can come over their reservations and be more supportive of each other for the greater good of the organization.
Thinking deeper on this I realized that, maybe the title of John Gray’s book is not just a phrase to describe this divide but in some ways can help us understand the underlying reasons for this great divide as well.
The analysis presented in this post are my own observations, and any resemblance to any living species is purely intentional.
If we evaluate and compare the characteristics of these two teams with the main protagonists of Gray’s book – Men and Women, we will see some distinct similarities. Based on my analysis – I can safely say – Sales like Men are from Mars and Marketing like Women are from Venus…
Below are some key points derived from John Gray’s bestseller, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
“To fully express their feelings, women(marketing) assume poetic license to use various superlatives, metaphors, and generalizations”
For ages marketing has been accused of being superfluous – they work hard to present a glossy image of their brand or its range of products. They work hard to define the value propositions, the positioning statements, the pitches for their sales teams, but the fact is these pitches they design are often a far cry from the real product and hard core presentations and questions – sales have to deal with.
Solution : Let’s forgive the marketing guys for once – its in their genes – they see the world differently – its a beautiful, colorful and quite a segmented world out there for them. Marketing truly believes the only way to lure people is to dress yourself well and just charm them with words. Marketing should understand that just getting someone to know about the product is not enough, but the messaging should be such that you convert your website visitors to customers. For this to happen, it is important for marketing to first convince their sales teams with their messaging. If they manage to convert the non-believers or their critics (read sales) first – converting the believers and the undecided would be much easier. Also, if the same messaging reflects at all contact points of the organization, it leaves a far greater impact than having a great impression at the start – only to be disappointed in the end with reality.
“A man’s(sales) sense of self is defined through his ability to achieve results. A woman’s(marketing’s) sense of self is defined through her feelings and the quality of her relationships”
This finding of Gray stands true for the Sales and Marketing teams too – Sales defines its success by the number of deal closures it makes and the revenue it generates, while marketing measures itself by the number of visitors it managed to attract to the website or by the number of impressions it got for its collaterals, or the relationships it managed to build with the influencers in this space. Every follower marketing adds on Twitter or Facebook matters to them – it is seen as directly proportionate to their efforts.
Solution: Sales has to understand that relationships and brand image is critical in sustaining the flow of quality leads to their sales funnel. Also, relationships give you added leverage when closing a deal. Marketing on the other hand should realize that only building relationships and increasing traffic will not result in a qualified sales pipeline – they will have to push their relationships to get more concrete results that end in conversions.
“Men (Sales) have a tunnel vision, 95% of their attention is focused on just one thing and 5% on checking of the environment. Women (Marketing) are just the opposite, they are continuously taking in everything that there is in the environment whether it is useful or not”
This is a very valid observation – Sales teams are very focussed and think of customers as individuals. Every customer is unique and and his needs, requirements and their sales pitches for them are all unique and tailor made. They take one customer at a time and give it all time and effort. Marketing on the other hand thinks of customers as segments – divided on the base of various parameters like – region, requirement, motivations, preferences, income profiles etc. It uses a more generic approach and engages hoards of channels to reach out to these target segments. It is this difference in approach of these two teams that results in a failure to match expectations when it comes to defining success as a team.
Solution: It is impossible for marketing to reach out to each individual with a different messaging, at least in the existing set up where to start with they don’t know their end customer by name. And when these target consumers are spread across – different geographies, social media platforms, using different channels for accessing information. It is here, that marketing automation solutions available in the market and concepts like drip marketing can help marketing adopt a more customer centric approach. Such applications allow nurturing a visitor who has been identified as a lead in a very customized way – by gauging his intent and by providing him only with information that is relevant to him. Also advanced marketing automation 2.0 platforms like LeadForce1 provide sales and marketing with a single ‘Lead View’ or ‘Company view’- enabling the teams to collaborate in real-time, ensuring they watch, review and act on the leads in real-time with each others support.
“Men (Sales) are efficiency oriented. Must do it the easiest and fastest way. Women (Marketing) on the other hand feel that taking the shortest path between 2 points is boring. Women like variation”
The most common complain that sales has against marketing is that a lot of leads pushed down the sales funnel by the marketing team is useless. This hampers their productivity and efficiency. They would like it if Marketing flooded the funnel with more relevant leads.
For marketing, going by the very conservative definition of qualifying leads is a nightmare – they worry, it might result in no leads or very few leads or they might miss a good opportunity. Also, marketing thrives on variety, they want to experiment and see what works best, rather than sticking to a set model. Imagine the fate of social media if marketers had not been game enough to test it, and adopt it.
Solution : Both sales and marketing should bring to a common table their beliefs and their concerns. Narrowing down the criteria for lead qualification should be a mutually agreed process. Also, its best to have a mix of both conservative and liberal definitions for a good lead, so that the filtering process does not miss out on any business opportunities.
Men and women have survived each other for centuries now. They have learnt to co-exist, nurture and provide for each other and also together have ensured their species continues to grow in numbers. The fact is one cannot imagine a life without the other. Similarly, any organization cannot survive without sales or marketing – both have to co-exist and work towards the common goal of doing whatever is best for their organization. And like Gray states in his bestseller – “Listening creates healing” – Its time both sales and marketing gave each other a hearing…