Marketing And Sales-Inseparable


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I just read the IBM 2011 Global CMO Marketing Study. It’s a fascinating report, based on in-depth interviews with more than 1700 CMO’s worldwide. It’s a must read for any sales and marketing professional.

As I devoured the 72 page report, something struck me—where’s sales? In a discussion of critical issues facing CMO’s there was no discussion of the Sales Function or how Sales and Marketing need to work together. I wondered if I missed something, so I searched on the words “sales, sale.” Those words occurred 23 times in the 72 page report. Two times in the title of someone quoted, one time referring to campaigns, two times referring to data, sixteen times indicating revenue, and two times referring to the sales organization.

The CMO’s stated their four biggest challenges are: Explosion of Data, Social Media, Proliferation of Channels and Devices, and Shifting Consumer Demographics.

Where is Sales? Where do CMO’s talk about the Sales Function or the importance of Sales and Marketing aligning to maximize their impact on revenue generation?

I reread the report three times, thinking I had to miss something. I didn’t. Apparently the sales function and organization is not on the radar screens of these 1700 CMO’s.

For some time, I’ve been evangelizing the concept of sales and marketing integration. As we look at the new world of buying, we find that sales and marketing processes must be tightly integrated and aligned to maximize impact on customers. As we look at Challenger Sales, the new customer engagement, the importance of social selling, rich content, and so many other things; sales and marketing are becoming inseparable.

Yet this doesn’t come up at all in the concerns of CMO’s from around the world. How can any CMO ignore the role of sales in impacting their own effectiveness?

As bad a picture as it paints, at least we start understanding the magnitude of the disconnect between sales and marketing. For each of us to be focused on maximizing our impact in our markets, for each of us to be seeking to engage our customers in meaningful ways, for each of us to contribute to the revenue and share growth of our organizations, we must depend on the other. We are wasting money, resources, and customer equity by working separately or, at worst, with conflicting objectives.

The new buyer is changing all the rules. The new buyer is telling us, sales and marketing, that they want something different from us–in how we educate and inform them, how we engage them, and how we help them achieve their goals. They are demanding value, but how can we maximize our value if the right hand (marketing) and the left hand (sales) aren’t working in lock step.

It seems that before our organizations can maximize our impact on customers, we must first learn how to work together, knocking down the walls between organizations, aligning ourselves, our goals, our programs, presenting a single face to the customers. What is unstated in the survey, but implied by it’s absence is the single biggest problem for sales and marketing executives is their inability to work with each other. Until, we focus on this problem, until marketing and sales become inseparable, until our processes are so intertwined, until we can complete each other’s sentences, we will never maximize our impact on our markets and customers.

I’m looking forward to IBM’s 2012 survey of CMO’s. I hope this comes up as an issue in that report. If it doesn’t, then perhaps the 73% of CEO’s who are dissatisfied with the performance of their CMO’s may take action.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


  1. Dave, I too am surprised and disappointed that marketing/sales integration (collaboration, if you like) is not a higher priority. However, maybe it has something to do with the questions that were asked. If the researcher didn’t list it as an issue, then it won’t show up in the reports.

    Also, I wonder if we’d see the same problem if we surveyed sales executives. Sure, they want to have good teamwork with marketing, but is it really a top issue when they are faced with the pressures of making quota? “Just give me better quality leads, and leave me alone,” I’m sure many B2B sales leaders say.

    My sense of it is that marketing/sales integration will take a very long time to occur. Probably 10-20 years. Because there are too many old school marketing and sales leaders that know how to optimize their functions, and excel at that.

    And industries of consultants and tech vendors that are focused on marketing or sales, but generally not both.

    It will take a new class of CEOs to recognize that optimizing total revenue performance — some call this Revenue Performance Management — requires a new approach. That will mean new organization models, new leaders, new measurement and reward systems. Won’t happen overnight.

    So maybe the problem is simple: Until CEOs say it’s a priority, it won’t show up on the CMO’s hot list!

  2. Great observations Bob. Part of the problem with the survey is it appeared to be very biased to B2C. When you look at most of the priorities and observations they are very consumer centric. That doesn’t reduce the importance of sales/marketing collaboration, but I think those of us who tend to live in the B2B world see it as more of a critical issue.

    It would be really interesting to do a similar study of Sales execs to see if there is a similar omission. While the thought is scary, I think it may be.

    I tend to think the integration of sales and marketing will happen at a much more rapid rate–though the seamlessness may take 10-20 years. I think the driving force behind it will be customers—customers will simply not accept their suppliers imposing disparate approaches from a marketing and sales point of view.

    The accelerating factor will be CEO’s and Boards who “get it,” and align sales marketing through metrics, strategies, and putting people who are driven to work collaboratively in the top roles.

    All that said, we have a long way to go!

  3. Its unfortunate that we wee internal silos (marketing, sales, service) continue to be the norm as we move into the age of customer experience.

    If you buy the customer experience story, then you probably agree that you have to address and optimize the experience at all stages of the customer journey–from initial exploration to purchase to use (in an oversimplified journey model). The only way to do that is for marketing to work closely with sales and service. Marketing can’t make promises that sales can’t backup and that service can’t deliver.

    It would be interesting to see organizational models where the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) actually is at the level of a COO–but focused externally (while COO optimizes internally). This type of CCO would be be the leader of sales, marketing and service–forcing (hopefully) greater integration and cooperation.

    While everyone admires the innovation of startups, I think a missing element of the success of great startups is that they don’t have the layers or politics that isolate marketing from sales and sales from service.

    Customer Experience may be forcing a return to a model more along those lines.

  4. Hank, we must have been thinking the same thing at the same time. I just wrote a blog post about the customer experience not respecting our organizational boundaries.

    You’re absolutely on target. Customers will force us to relook at how we knock down the organizational walls we have established.

  5. Hank, I think you’re right that the CCO (or Chief Experience Officer) could help deal with silo issues and bring sales and marketing closer together, along with service/support of course.

    But my sense of it is that B2C organizations are more apt to do this. Partly because “sales” doesn’t have the same power/clout that it has in B2B, where the reps are supposed to “make it happen” — i.e. make quota.

    In B2B enterprises, the silo mentality seems much stronger. And there is less recognition that that the customer experience is important. I see lots of commentary about optimizing marketing (e.g. lead gen), or sales process. But it’s almost exclusively focused internally.

    I think there is an equally strong case for marketing/sales integration based on internal focus (CRM) or external (CEM).
    * For CRM-style organizations, probably more common in B2B, a CEO/COO could be the right leader, and Revenue Performance Management will be more attractive.
    * For CEM-style, then perhaps a CCO/CXO position would be better, and Customer Experience Management will make more sense to business leaders.

  6. Bob (and Dave),

    This is a fun and interesting discussion for a Saturday morning.

    While I agree that B2C may lead in an experience focus, B2B may need to shift to that approach (and silo breakdowns) even faster.

    With ideas like content marketing, SEC’s ideas of the Challenger Sales approach, and more businesses driving to differentiate through a service orientation, the links between sales, marketing, and service must be tight. CEMEX, a cement company that is talked about in the book “The Customer Experience Edge” is one example that took an experience-oriented service approach to differentiate.

    If you are going with a content marketing strategy of educating people on new ideas and different business approaches, then sales needs to sing the same tune throughout the sales process, and the service organization better be prepared to deliver on those ideas. When service is the point of differentiation, the alignment should be a natural, but it still does not occur smoothly enough, in more cases.

    If leads are based not on people with a budget and well-defined problem (where all but the definer is likely column fodder) but on people in a target industry (or horizontal area) with indicators of having a potential problem or need, then sales better be aligned that they are going to have to do more than pitch product and negotiate price.

    We may get hung up too much on the “Apple-like” B2C experiences and think that its a B2C thing, but B2B innovators may have an opportunity to really lead and leap forward by taking ideas like making a CCO or CXO in charge of Marketing, Sales, and Service. I think that type of role makes the CXO the yin to the COO’s yang.

    The CXO focused on maximizing value and experience for customers. The COO focused on maximizing business efficiency and ROI. They work together to decide on initiatives based on the returns of each.

    Its a different way of thinking, and easier to say than to do, but it might be a key to getting that end to end alignment needs for customer experience and/or service oriented differentiation.



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