Aligning Sales and Marketing – It’s Not Just About Metrics, It’s Culture

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Having just re-read sales and marketing blogger Adam Needle’s 4 part series on the “Unspoken ‘Real State’ of Modern B2B Demand Generation,” I once again cannot commend enough the value of the data and analysis he presents. If you have any interest at all in B2B sales, marketing, branding, or sales management, this is a fantastic set of articles.

So go read them now, and then come back.

Welcome back.

One the biggest challenges of my current position with XANT is making the connections between sales and marketing more visible, repeatable, and cost effective.

And a key idea that kept pounding in my head while I reviewed Adam’s material was that aligning sales and marketing is difficult because employees on each side largely come from two different production “cultures.”

In a nutshell, sales are largely business types, marketing people are creatives—and getting the two to take a look through the other’s “lens” often sends them into foreign territory.

Most sales people are brought up through the ranks of business schools—or at least integrated into a business culture. Whether or not they actually finish a college degree, good sales pros typically show an interest in management, business, and corporate practices. Even sales reps brought up through the “school of hard knocks” without any formal education eventually get enculturated into a business mindset:

Production, ROI, pipelines, and bottom line. Inventory, cash flow, expenses versus revenue.

Marketing people, on the other and, generally see themselves as artists. Communicators of a deep, psychological mystery that connects them (and their marketing message / brand) to the human race at large. They’re designers, writers, illustrators, graphic artists, brand experts, ad campaign managers.

This is not to say that the two sides can’t cross over into the other’s territory. But at their roots, the core “language,” the underlying views and ways of thinking for each side are fundamentally, intrinsically different.

Now of course, any good marketing or advertising executive will tell you that the bottom line is ALWAYS more sales. But when I talk about “culture,” or “language” I’m not talking about the conversations that go on in weekly management or sales meetings—I’m talking about the internal dialogue of the employees doing the actual work. The self-perception of those sitting at their desks, pounding out digits on their keyboard or phone (of course, our sales reps don’t literally “pound the phone,” since they’re using our PowerDialer sales tool, but I digress).

The bottom line is that the language of sales is about ever-increasing numbers and revenue. The language of marketing is about “connecting” with people.

More on this tomorrow.

(Editor’s Note: Rod Sloane makes an interesting comment below, stating that most sales types he knows largely “fell out” of the ranks of a typical college education. Just to clarify, my point is not to say that sales reps are “college educated,” merely to say that whether college-educated or not, most of them self-select themselves as being part of a “business culture” and “business mindset”—competition, results-oriented, facing challenges, etc.)

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

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