There is a war going on within organizations: Marketing and Sales are at odds and fighting against one another. Marketing complains that Sales never follows up on all those leads they send. Sales grumbles that Marketing doesn’t bring them any qualified leads. It’s a battle that neither side can win. And the company as a whole loses unless the two sides wave the white flag and agree to work together as partners, rather than against each other as adversaries. The two sides should join together to fight the war against competitors who are conquering market share.

The truth is both functions are crucial for success. Marketing makes the phone ring and salespeople close deals. It’s a very close association between two functions, so why is there such a disconnect? Part of the problem is that Marketing suffers from a credibility crisis. Marketing is viewed as the people who throw parties and spend budgets, rather than as part of the machine that drives revenue and profits. There are companies where Sales holds weekly revenue calls, and nobody from Marketing is on the call. In order to work with Sales, Marketing must be viewed not as a cost center, but as a strategic asset that drives growth. How can marketers do their part to achieve success and end the war?

Prove Your Worth
CFOs make budgeting decisions and recommendations based on facts and figures. Marketing must present useful data that enables CFOs to understand the value of the Marketing department. Evidence of this issue is seen in a Marketing Sherpa study in which only 17% of B2B marketers queried were sure their CFOs understood the value of lead generation programs. To combat this, provide meaningful success metrics.

Traditionally, the Marketing and Sales departments operate in silos. Each department performs its function without interacting with the other. To end the war, the barriers must be broken down. Sales and Marketing should share common goals. Both should frequently meet to share information. Or, savvy organizations might take it a step further: Have Marketing go on a sales call along with salespeople, or invite salespeople to participate in Marketing meetings, so each side can see, first-person, the challenges the other department is up against.

Instill A Focus On The Customer
Instead of paying attention to divisive internal issues, devote your energy to focusing on the customer. Find reasons to work together to solve customer problems…and to focus on the “right” prospects.

Define Core Messaging
Along these same lines, make sure both departments have a clear understanding of the company’s competitive advantage and key sales differentiators. If Marketing is promoting a product based on price advantage, and Sales is touting customer service (but neither mentions the other) they present mixed messages to the marketplace. Agree on a value proposition, and stick to it. That means having coherent messaging coming from all parts of the organization. Make sure all ads, marketing materials and sales presentations communicate that value proposition to prospects.

Prove Them Wrong
When all else fails, prove them wrong. Make sure you’re generating not just large numbers of leads, but qualified prospects. Remember, in the BtoB world, quality is more important than quantity. You might have a big budget, but if you don’t use it effectively to generate quality leads, why bother?

Don’t Overlook The “No-brainers”
Too often, Marketing’s attempt to “prove them wrong” involves complex strategies and unconventional marketing tactics. But don’t overlook the obvious. One of the most effective forms of online advertising is an industry directory. It’s a small investment – often just a few hundred dollars for an entire year of advertising. And it produces quality prospects. Your ad is hitting prospects at the exact moment that they are actively searching for your company’s product or service. What better way to drive qualified leads than when you already know they’re looking for exactly what you provide?

Marketers who put these tips into action will be closer to ending the war: to being seen as an equal partner with Sales in the effort to deliver revenue for their organization. Marketing programs will be more successful, sales will increase, morale will improve, and customer satisfaction will go up. Peace, at last.

Source: Media Brains 2008 issue.