‘Collaboration not Control’ is the Knack of Sales and Marketing to Work Together

According to a new report from recruiter Ranstad, although 80% of businesses recognize the benefits of greater alignment between sales and marketing, most (almost 60%) aren’t unifying their divisions. However, unification doesn’t mean a full shake-up of departments or a new sales and marketing boss. Instead, marketers need to find ways to collaborate more closely with their sales colleagues, much as they do with the rest of the business.

The growth of digital signals there is a closer connection between marketing and sales. Brands can now embed a call to action in almost any piece of digital marketing – think Google or Twitter’s ‘buy’ buttons.

FMCG brands have been fastest to adapt to this trend. Mondelez has recently hired its first global head of content and media monetisation in Laura Henderson as it ups its focus on driving sales from its content following a global partnership with Facebook.

Meanwhile, Nestle has appointed Amazon’s former consumables director Sebastian Szczepaniak as global head of ecommerce. And Diageo is exploring how to let customers purchase direct from advertisers for brands such as Haig Club.

Therefore, it is no surprise that FMCG brands are restructuring their businesses to bring sales and marketing closer together.

Why a sales and marketing boss isn’t a ‘panacea’

Thomas Brown, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s director of strategy and marketing, believes the legacy starting point for this debate – whether there should be a single sales and marketing function – is less relevant today. Instead, marketers must look at how they can work more closely with business functions – not just sales but also customer experience, operations, IT.

CIM says this should involve shared objective and priorities, aligned planning and closed loop feedback.

Brown points out that, “The most important thing is to make sure the destination is a shared one. The old days of marketing plans being developed in isolation from sales where goals and activities are passed from one silo to another won’t cut it; and one sales and marketing boss is not the ‘wrong thing to do’ but that it ‘isn’t a panacea’.” He also explains that there is no one size fits all answer or silver bullet; and it’s important to remember that structure and reporting lines aren’t a solution in and of themselves, they’re an enabler of something happening in a certain way.

Donovan Neal-May, executive director of the CMO Council, agrees. It recently conducted a B2B study which found that in most cases sales is not building on content being produced by marketers and is not leveraging thought leadership platforms to interact and engage with customers at a strategic level.

Sales and marketing must work ‘hand in hand’

It’s 2014 ‘State of Marketing 2014’ study found that while 46% of the more than 600 participants thought their greatest accomplishment was the realignment of marketing to better support sales, only one in four marketers thought they had made strides in better targeting and converting business.

Pete Markey, CMO at the Post Office, told Marketing Week that in his experience sales and marketing work best when they work “hand in hand”.