I’m on United 7094 to Chicago, thinking through a barrage of B2B member conversations last week that all led back to a seemingly intractable problem – the proper structure, interface, and (potential) integration of Marketing and Sales. B2B marketers have long had an inferiority complex relative to their B2C brethren, to which B2B folk reply, ‘if you had Sales to deal with, you’d feel equally humiliated.’ Touché.
Why the conflict? Why the insistence on separate spheres of influence? Why all the talk and no walk? Over the past two years, MLC members have seen quantitative research demonstrating the necessity of marketing and sales partnership, whether it be in differentiating the purchase experience to drive loyalty, or crafting a unique customer experience to boost preference. Here’s what I’m hearing as the stumbling blocks to full partnership and better business results:
- Organization structure – Companies structure B2B marketing departments so differently, and change structure so frequently, that it often takes too long to find a structure that actually promotes Sales and Marketing cooperation. Sometimes, corporate marketing reports separately from BU marketing, while neither intersects with Sales, and well, you get the picture. This leads to the next challenge. . .
- Goal alignment – Frankly, there is often none. Put the marketing dashboard next to the sales dashboard and the casual observer would be hard-pressed to see how Marketing’s activities boosted sales and overall firm profitability. Winning companies align their functions on a single suite of metrics – like loyalty or preference.
- Sales’ perception of Marketing – B2B marketing should be a case study for psychologists studying negative reinforcement. You are Sales support, they say! Ten years ago, perhaps, but the importance of B2B marketing has never been higher. It’s time to make the case.
As companies continue looking for efficiency coming out of the recession and new synergies to drive growth for the business, I don’t anticipate this challenge going away. It stares us in the face every time we walk down the hall to have the latest piece of sales collateral reviewed or even broach the subject of brand.
MLC members, let us help you make the case for B2B marketing, with our comprehensive set of spend benchmarks as well as our Anatomy of a World-Class Marketing Organization. As you well know, Sales requires us to go in to battle well-armed.