BtoB: How can a company tell if its sales and marketing functions are not working well together?
Riesterer: There are three barometers to consider: First, lead acceptance, that is, sales isn't accepting or acting on the leads marketing gives it. Second, I'd worry if most of your marketing materials aren't being downloaded from your marketing and sales content site, and you see sales creating its own messages and collateral. A third important indication is poor ramp-up by sales on new-product launches, when it takes too long to get traction with customers for your new offerings.
BtoB: What's the imperative with getting sales and marketing aligned?
Riesterer: If you add up all the human capital and dollars spent in generating discarded leads and building unused sales tools, or launching products that don't see the light of day, that's a lot of wasted resources. The really strategic company will admit something's broken and transform this wasted effort into something that contributes to differentiation, growth and competitive leadership.
BtoB: But sales does the really heavy lifting on revenue generation, right?
Riesterer: Sales processes are built around finding qualified leads, which typically means a budgeted project. But that's too late in the customers' buying cycle to separate your company and create value. If sales works this way, it primarily will be in a pricing and spec war with the compe-tition. Marketing and sales must work together to create messaging, tools and campaigns that engage customers about their objectives and problems, not merely their budgeted projects that already require what you're selling.
BtoB: You're saying marketing can make salespeople better?
Riesterer: Yes. By using appropriate coaching messages and customer-facing tools, marketing can help change sales' dialogue away from price quotes and more toward a customer-relevant objective, a problem- and needs-based conversation. Marketing can also change the lead-generation and qualification process, identifying prospects with relevant objectives, problems and needs.