There, I've said it. Self-interest tops the bosses' orders, loss of market share, missed sales quotas and good, old-fashioned altruism (which took the last train for the coast in mid-2001).
We are a society of “What's in it for me?” or at the very least, “If I have to do something for you, I'll make sure it doesn't hurt my budget or my reputation.” Painful as it may seem, until the good times roll again, marketing and sales have staked out opposite sides of the turf, and defense trumps offense if it means that the two sides must play together to win.
The loser in this “Retain-my-job-at-all-costs” battle is the company that hired marketing and sales executives to find new business. The issues are pure and simple leadership values. Of course, fear drives foolish actions and decisions—and seldom innovative thinking—but we can jump the chasm of fear by understanding that when our backs are to the wall, we always step up. When we feel there is no choice, choices appear. When sacrifice is asked of us, real leaders come through because ... it is just the right thing to do. I suggest that for sales and marketing executives, the time to step up and be counted is now.
When something as unpleasant as lagging sales hits the fan, and marketing and sales refuse to work together to find new business, every one of us gets splattered with the consequences—some more than others. From shareholders to workers who are laid off, life becomes difficult for many.
One thing I have encountered in many companies is that when times are tough, the pipeline is drained of opportunities; and salespeople with limited time cannot recover without help. Help can only come from two directions; marketing or a recovering marketplace. Few people can wait for marketplace demand to shift back in their favor. The only solution is that marketing must step up and create the wealth they are capable of generating. Marketing and sales must put aside their differences, step up and make a difference.
I suggest there is a recipe for this. Do not leave out any ingredients. You have plenty of opportunity to put your creativity on the outcome, just don't change the sequence. But before listing the ingredients, I'd like to note the following facts.
* Regardless of the severity of a downturn, someone is always buying and someone is always selling.
* Pipelines are drained in difficult times and must be rebuilt.
* Growth is sustained and built on a formula that simply says the larger the pipeline of opportunities, the more we will sell.
* To increase sales, increase sales activities.
* Marketing and sales can build a pipeline together to a greater degree than if each were to work alone. In this instance one plus one equals three.
* Without the cooperation of sales and marketing people to build an opportunity pipeline, salespeople can seldom do it on their own; and they are left to the recovery of the market place. Exceptions to this fact appear in small companies but never in large ones.
Ingredients for cooperation:
Marketing must know the quotas for the salespeople. You must know:
* What has to be sold and exactly how much in dollars and units by product and by salesperson?
* The closing ratio of an opportunity. If a salesperson gets 10 opportunities, what percentage will be sold?
* The average sales cycle for the products that have to be sold. How long does it take to sell the product?
* How is the commission plan structured?
* Do you have to make up for the past (lost sales) or can you be satisfied with just the future growth?
Marketing must create the most-qualified opportunities possible. The more qualified the sales lead is, the less valuable sales time will be wasted on talking to unqualified people. Marketing must find out the prospect's need, desire, time frame, application, budget, etc.
When marketing knows the closing ratio of the inquiries and sales leads, they will know how many opportunities have to be created to reach the sales goals in the time allotted.
Sales must follow-up 100% of the prospects. No buts, no arguing. They have no choice but to do it. Complaining and whining about lead quality won't sell product; only sales calls will sell product.
Marketing must evaluate every inquiry and lead created in the campaign. They must know the raw inquiry cost, qualified lead cost and closed lead cost.
Sounds simple? It is more simple that you can imagine for some companies. Marketing and sales must cooperate in building a predictable pipeline of opportunities based on quotas. When both do their parts, the company wins, no one in HR is laying people off, there are happy shareholders and life couldn't be better. Can you rise to the challenge and stop the turf wars? After all, it is in your self-interest. M