Integrate business-to-business marketing and sales by avoiding knee-jerk reactions and fostering cooperation.
There are big rewards when sales and marketing are effectively integrated-not least of which are improved operating performance and outstanding financial results. Here are five tips that help make integration a success.
Tip: Beware of the quick fix
Most organizations have been using band-aid approaches such as integrating data sharing or changing incentive compensation systems without looking at the whole picture. Stop the knee jerk reaction to solve it NOW. Take a breath and create a long-range plan to address a complex set of barriers.
Tip: Promote people who are cooperative team members
Some might say that sales and marketing “personalities” are two very different animals. They think differently and act differently and approach the same customers with very different points of view. Added to that is the unspoken habit they each have of “looking down” on one another.
When integrating these divergent cultures, have marketing and sales both report to the same department head. The simple proximity of people, with joint department meetings and problem solving teams, helps to break down barriers that no new technological fix could achieve. And then promote those who are cooperative team members.
Tip: Offer opportunities for joint message development and training
To avoid the chaos, internal conflict, costly duplication and appalling service that can result from a proliferation of touch-points with the customer and prospects, joint message development and communication training is needed.
Tip: Reward behavior that builds trust
To help change attitudes and actions, incentives must be given to the desired actions that enhance integration.
Marketing receives incentives to interview prospects and customers every week to better craft and target marketing messages. Marketing incentive program must include rewards for regularly going on sales calls to keep up-to-date on what tools are needed for demonstrating, proposing and closing sales. The sales team receives incentives to report back on the results of the sales leads from marketing so they can eliminate the efforts that don’t work and concentrate efforts where they will produce more high-quality leads.
Tip: See the end game and take one step at a time
While all the changes needed to bring about real integration between sales and marketing may take a long time, it is best to address the need to change using the principles of continuous improvement. You know if you do nothing, there is little hope for improvement. By taking small steps to address the big picture of needed changes, you can be assured of making great strides. Sales and marketing integration needs an evolution not a revolution. Take a long-term view. One step at a time will get you there.
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M. H. "Mac" McIntosh is described by many as one of America's leading business-to-business sales and marketing consultants and marketing speakers. He is president of Mac McIntosh Incorporated, a marketing consulting firm specializing in helping companies get more high-quality sales leads and turn them into sales. More about Mac...