How to succeed in getting sales and marketing to work harmoniously

This outtake is from an hour of discussion recorded exclusively for our Pivotal Marketer Community on Facebook (where the full recording is available) sees Mike Berry, marketing trainer and consultant and MMC’s Rene Power discussing how sales and marketing can practically work together to achieve common outcomes and some of the winners and losers in the pandemic.

It’s the third in a series of serialisations on marketing strategy, be sure to check all new posts as they publish (or see the recommended reading below).

Ring fencing a percentage of budget for experimentation. Just before we move on, I’ve got a comment in the chat on Facebook which I think is appropriate to pick up right now.

And it’s along the lines of how in a very sales-led organisation do we help to change the mindset with some of these models that we use and get people thinking more in terms of a market or a marketing perspective?

I’ve come across businesses like this and it is about engaging those people in the process really explaining the benefits of this work and how it will ultimately get you more of the right sorts of customers. Well have you got any insights to maybe share on that? So sales led organisation.

Mike Berry:

Yeah. It’s interesting, isn’t it? What is a sales led organisation? Are we talking B2B or B2C and I suspect it might be B2B. In which case you definitely have, there’s definitely a role for the senior salespeople.

Some of the recent jargon is ABM (account-based marketing), but maybe the salespeople wouldn’t want to let him to be called marketing because they don’t believe in it.

There can be some fundamental prejudices. When I’ve seen B2B working best, sales and marketing actually respect each other and recognise that each is doing a very important job.

And in big organisations, one way of absolutely killing that cooperation is for the two senior people not to get along. Then it becomes very tribal “we’re the sales guys and how those marketers who really don’t get it, do they?”

And the marketing people think all the sales guys are thugs and would just give away all the profit by reducing the price in order to get more volume.
And of course good salespeople are not like that and good marketing people are not like that.

If I were the CEO, I would be encouraging marketing and sales at the senior level to publicly respect each other and attend each other’s meetings and say, “Look, in a B2B situation marketing can really help us in sales. They can open the door for us. They can give us support. When you call your prospect, they can say, oh yeah, I saw you on the website. I’ve heard of you guys. Yeah, you’re doing a lot in this. And you can say to them, just have a look at this link, our marketing guys have put together this video on YouTube. It will explain to how we installed this for one of your competitors.” (which always gets the prospect listening because they’re all concerned about their competitors).

So then marketing is opening the door for sales and marketing should also recognise that they can’t sell the product directly from the website.

Their job is to work with sales and some of the best case studies in B2B or marketing and sales working really closely together with personalised messages, with CRM, with all that stuff that Salesforce and their competitors do so well.

In other words, marketing automation, you’ve got every touch point with the prospect is harmonised and synchronised right up to the sale and beyond.
And that’s not as common as it should be. There’s still a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding.

So. if a sales based organisation is like that, it has to come from the top and it also can be led by the departmental heads actually sharing some for their people. “Yeah, come on let’s play nicely with those marketing guys because they are helping us at the end of the day.”

And marketing saying, “Well, we need sales. So can we just sometimes attend each other’s meetings, network a bit and build some bridges up and down the organisation?”

The old cliche is silos, isn’t it? And if you live in the countryside, silos are good but in marketing silos are definitely bad.


Yeah. I think the challenge in a product organisation particularly B2B is that sales probably would claim to own the relationship with the customers. Once they get sales ready leads they’re probably not going to want those fluffy marketers very close to them. And I think that probably says a lot about sales led organisation, as in an organisation predominantly ruled by the sales function. Marketing is probably quite subservient in those organisations, isn’t it?

And what you actually want is you probably want a marketing sandwich where you’ve got strategy, marketing strategy is the top slice of bread. The sales targets are the filling. And then the bottom slice of bread is almost the marketing tactics.

So then whether you’re using funnels or flywheels or whatever the latest shape of marketing nurturing is, you are very much dialled into what we need to be doing in a particular vertical sector or a geographical territory or particular product area vis-a-vis sales targets and who the ideal customer is and what your sales process is.

How many like you said, touch points do they need to be? What sort of things do we need to be educating them with?

And I know the guys at Smart Insights a number of years ago did this thing called the content marketing matrix which is a great, great document. And it really identifies across the nuances in getting prospects to customers in the B2C environment versus the B2B environment and the different things you need to be putting in front of them to move them along that journey.

So I always reference that one as one to go and look at.

So it might be having to look in a little bit more detail within the business at the sales process and how that’s managed to see where there are some opportunities for marketing as you say, to kind of elevate certain aspects of that and move some customers through because sales guys can get easy wins and get their commissions. They’re going to take all the help they can get at the end of the day, aren’t they?

Mike Berry:

Yeah. And that’s one way of positioning it to them. These guys are offering help that they’re here to make you more successful. Who’s going to say no to that? So yeah, good luck. That’s a challenge, but it’s not a unique one. Other people have the same issues.


Just anchoring it back to this kind of digital strategy thing and what goes into that and kind of how it works. So there’s been a lot of companies pivoting, particularly in the last 12 months, haven’t there? And we’ve seen some winners and we’ve seen some gargantuan losers. Which ones kind of stand out for you Mike in terms of the winners and maybe some of the things that you felt they did that made them more successful?

Mike Berry:

Well one of the things that has been getting a lot of coverage in the blogs and industry forums and websites is marketing during a pandemic. Because it’s one thing that affects everyone just about on the planet at the moment. And it’s interesting how brands have kind of made it up as they went along.

Mainly because no one knew what was going to happen. I’m still not so sure, I don’t know about you Rene, but we do seem to be turning the corner. So the articles are changing from marketing during a pandemic to building back better. Those who have survived crawl out of the wreckage and start rebuilding the world. What are those brands going to do?

So I do think that you can’t ignore what’s happening because it affects virtually everyone. So perhaps for the first month or so of the pandemic last year, and we really import it that then, didn’t we? We said, this is COVID thing and maybe it’ll be gone in a month or so.

Mike Berry:

And wow, this is a bit harsh. We’ve had a lockdown, never had that before. Anyway, when it’s over we’ll have controlled it back back to normal. And then gradually the horrible awareness dawned on us that we’re not getting back to normal for a few more months. And even now I think most people are still uncertain also leads to paranoia, doesn’t it?

So the brands have had this challenge. They don’t want to look extravagant, so the Super Bowl advertising in the U.S. this year was much reduced, but still there’s some really good ads and they weren’t extravagant. It wasn’t ticker tape parades and all singing, all dancing. It was kind of wow, “we’ve all had a tough year, but we’re here for you. We’re going to keep our heads down, tighten our belts and we’re all going to be here when it all ends and don’t forget us”.

So they’re kind of saying, “Well we are so-and-so and we’ve been here for X years already, and we’ve all had a tough one, but we’re all going to come back.” So it’s kind of that’s the awareness story. To answer in more specific detail, it’s kind of I think predictable what I’m going to say, e-commerce has just been a massive gain.

And I read recently that China now more than 50% of retail is e-commerce and that’s not just because of the pandemic. That was a trend and it’s a trend everywhere, but they say it’s been accelerated by five years. Who can measure that?

But I think retailers who are good at delivery and e-commerce have done extremely well.

Perhaps dare I say better than if there’d been no COVID. So there’s definite winners. And also it’s accelerated people investing in technology. So the online platforms, video conferencing will never be any worse than it is now, and it’s already much better than two years ago.

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