Ending the Sales & Marketing Blame Game


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Every company which has marketing and sales departments has at some point, witnessed the famous – sales and marketing fight and blame game – more commonly known as the sales and marketing mis-alignment.

If we look closely one of the most significant reasons for this sales and marketing divide is the difference in objectives and their measurement of success.

In a B2B set up these differences are more glaring as compared to a B2C company.

In B2C, both marketing and sales are measured by the sales and market share the company enjoys for its products. In such a scenario, marketing invariably assumes the role of assisting sales and propelling the company’s revenue share in the marketplace.

In most B2B companies, the primary objective of marketing is to generate quality business Leads and of sales to convert these into closed deals. Both these departments are also measured based on the number of Leads generated and the number of sales closed, respectively.

In reality the role of marketing in a B2B company is relationship building and that of sales to use this relationship and help the prospect make a rational buying decision based on business value offered by the company’s solutions.

Irrespective of how companies want to position their marketing and sales objectives the truth is marketing and sales are two sides of the same coin.

Selling starts the very minute the company goes out into the world and talks about it’s offering. It would be very naive for anyone to assume otherwise. Companies spend on marketing activities because they want to attract people who can buy their offerings. So what really differentiates marketing from sales is the point of their entry in the relationship building process.

Hence it is essential for companies to create a common ground or process for marketing and sales teams to work together in the in between stages of qualifying and nurturing Leads.

Defining a good Lead is the first step in this direction. It starts by putting down a definite list of attributes and a score for each attribute listed, this process helps in scoring the Leads and qualifying them. These pre-defined Lead attributes should be arrived at after doing ample research on how the Leads in the company’s Lead funnel behaved in the past, this requires an in-depth study of both Leads closed and opportunities lost. Also, this should be an ongoing process, where the Lead behavior is watched and the common definition accordingly developed over a period of time.

Use of technology like marketing automation solutions can help in easing and automating the process of scoring and qualifying leads if your primary source of Lead generation is Internet.

Just this one process can go a long way in bridging the sales-marketing divide, at least in settling the blame game.

This is because, setting up such a process not only helps in bringing clarity to the end objectives of both, but also equates the success metric. The Lead definition becomes the base measurement value for both the departments. Marketing is measured not on the basis of Leads generated but on the basis of qualified Leads generated in accordance with the common definition. Sales gets measured on how many of these qualified Leads it managed to close.

However, pre-defining Leads though a good start towards sales and marketing alignment can make the entire process of Lead management very calculative.

Moreover, at the end of the day as companies we are still selling to people and many a times different people tend to behave differently and it becomes difficult to fit them into a set definition based on their levels of interest or activities.

To overcome such instances it is important for both sales and marketing to have a common free-flowing communication channel, spending time if/where required with a Lead understanding their requirement, even if they fail to fit the pre-defined criteria.

Also, both departments need to exercise some flexibility on their individual entry points in this relationship building process. The interests of the Lead should be the sole determining factor for this, often sticking to their individual roles and not catering to the needs of a Lead can result in loss of opportunities.

And this is why sales and marketing alignment becomes such a serious issue for B2B companies, in many ways it is the inconspicuous revenue sapper.

In an upcoming webinar on October 12, 2010, B2B marketing and strategic experts, Charles Besondy and Richard Eppel discuss how companies can calculate the cost of marketing and sales mis-alignment and share sure-fire ways to align marketing and sales processes almost overnight.

If your company is losing precious revenue to this age-old departmental dispute, register for this free webinar today.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Merlin Francis
Merlin Francis is Director of Communications for LeadFormix. Merlin has over a decade of combined experience in the field of print and television Media, PR and Corporate communications. This includes her 3 year stint as an entrepreneur running a successful public relations and event management consultancy.


  1. Hi Merlin

    You’ve touched on an absolutely critical element of sales and marketing alignment. I’d even suggest going further, and getting sales and marketing to agree – and document – what an ideal prospect looks like, as well as what a good opportunity looks like.

    Getting consensus about what an ideal prospect looks like can be very powerful in working out where you ought to be targeting your marketing efforts – both in finding new prospects and getting found by them when they start searching for solutions.

    Getting consensus about what a good opportunity looks like can help eliminate a great deal of wasted effort spend generating leads that the sales force does not want to pursue.

    One final thought: having a formal opportunity handover and feedback loop can be very insightful. I’ve seen great benefit in establishing a “contract” between sales and marketing that defines what feedback sales commit to giving to marketing, as well as what quality of lead marketing commits to deliver to sales.

    Bob Apollo | Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners

  2. Merlin, your post is spot-on. It is amazing how many marketing and sales organizations cannot articulate the definition of a “qualified sales lead.” The consequences of this failure are a constant battle over who messed up: the marketing organization for not providing the right quantity and quality of leads – or the sales organization for not closing the leads. This is why my company, Fusion Marketing Partners, encourages the marketing department to establish a service level agreement (SLA) with sales that includes the number of leads required and specifications for lead quality.

    Chris Ryan

  3. Hi Bob,

    Completely agree with you, defining a good lead not only helps in aligning sales & marketing but also ensures that marketing spends its resources finding the good lead only. Also i strongly feel that establishing a contract between marketing and sales will go a long in ensuring both stick to their respective commitments which often becomes a great feat to achieve, especially in larger organizations.


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