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Monday, 7 February 2011

The problem of Sales and Marketing Alignment

I always smile privately while reading Sales-Marketing or Marketing-Sales Alignment Problems Blogs and Reports.

An exception
is the great advice given by:

However, Forrester, a respected Research and Publishing House. The author has a Marketing background, but he lacks that ‘Grunt’ experience. Having been a ‘Grunt’ that worked and educated himself to General Management, I know how essential that experience was, and I know how important to have perspective on the “Problem”.

The ‘shocking’ conclusion is:

“Sales and Marketing Alignment starts at the Customer”,

forgive me but I feel as though a Consultant has just borrowed my watch,

told me the time, billed me $500 and then kept my watch!

The Problem is in Marketing, they can’t keep up.

Marketing cannot keep up with Social, Technological, Economic, Political or Competitive change!
Sales, at the ‘front-end’ attempts to use out of date marketing content, are directed to inappropriate leads, and most importantly are blamed for failure and then discredited for their success. I long for the return of Sales and Marketing Directors, Marketing Communications, PR, Customer Events,
Golf balls and Umbrella give-away!
I would trade both my SFA and CRM for them, and settle for just MS Outlook.

Instead, I have to suffer the indignity of the CMO,
we might as well have had Sales report to the CFO, 
as at least in Finance they understood the Financial Offer!  
Marketing are there to serve the Sales-force, not the other way round!

Marketing Deliverables are the Sales-force requirements to SELL,
not a ‘price list’ with a product brochure and an inoperable website.

Then, God forbid, a plethora of Sales ‘Disablement’ content, SFA and CRM software, FAD training programs, Market Focus meetings and the fatal blow a “sales strategy” based on a (wrongly labelled) Boston Matrix,
a SWOT analysis that left out the Key Competitor and was based on the wrong Market segment
and a no longer sold Product.

Within 5 minutes of meeting a CMO, I can tell if they have any comprehension of Selling or not.  If they don’t think much of Salespeople and if they believe that Customers are na├»ve, then they are unlikely to align.

I have been much more measured in my assessment of their Marketing and CMO skills, waiting a full 18 months,
to see what they achieve.
In ITC my expectation is 35% year-on-year at the top line.
This is rarely achieved by CMO’s unaligned to Sales and Customers!


What is often achieved is the complete disengagement from both Sales and Customers;
to the point that the CMO believes that “they are in the ‘wrong market’.”

When CMO’s directly manage Sales, as “Sales” Management this has been disastrous,
with the loss of Market share, Key Employees, and inconsistent Sales Strategy of both Product and Position.
The outcome is OVERT Marketing - Sales - Customer misalignment.

I have reached a different conclusion, than Forester, Sales and Marketing misalignment is the CEO’s fault!

Sales and Marketing misalignment
is completely the CEO’s fault.

The structure of a ‘disintegrated’ Sales and Marketing Department is wrong, it doesn’t work. 
It’s not about ‘alignment’; it’s about “Integration around the Customer”.
Sales, Marketing and Service integration,
which delivers Customer Acquisition, Retention, Development and Substitution the FOUR Sales Strategies!


My advice to 'misaligned' CEO’s is  this month spend
at least 20 hours with Customers LISTENING, not talking.

Then do the same thing with the Sales and Marketing Departments,
Fire the CMO and any other Marketing person with a title that doesn’t have the word “Customer” in it.
Fire all Marketing people who do not spend at least 10 hours per month with different Customers.
Fire all Salespeople who don’t spend 40 hours per month eyeball to eyeball with different Customers.

More on integration at

Hold a series of Meetings with the Integrated Sales and Marketing Department,
ensure they know and have agreed the Ideal Customer Profile (ideally based on real customers),
they have agreed the definition of a Sales Ready Lead,
as well as an agreed handover and hand-back process for Sales [un]Ready Leads.


Good Luck!