There are big rewards when sales and marketing are effectively integrated, including improved operating performance and outstanding financial results. Here are five tips to make integration a success.
• Beware of the quick fix. Most organizations use Band-Aid approaches, such as integrating data sharing or changing incentive compensation systems, without looking at the whole picture. Instead, create a long-range plan to address a complex set of barriers.
• Promote team players. Some say, sales and marketing “personalities” are two very different animals. These two groups think differently, act differently and approach the same customers with very different points of view.
When integrating these divergent cultures, have marketing and sales staff both report to the same department head. Joint department meetings and problem-solving teams can break down barriers that no new technological fix could achieve. Then, promote those who are cooperative team members.
• Offer opportunities to avoid chaos. To avoid internal conflict, costly duplication and appalling service that can result from a proliferation of touch-points with the customer and prospects, joint message development and communication training are needed.
• Reward behavior that builds trust. To help change attitudes and actions, incentives must be given. Marketing incentive programs should include rewards for regularly making sales calls to stay current on what tools are needed for demonstrating, proposing and closing sales. The sales team receives incentives to report back on the results of the sales leads from marketing so they can eliminate the efforts that don’t work, and concentrate on efforts that produce high-quality leads.
• See the end result. While all the changes needed to bring about real integration between sales and marketing may take a long time, address the need to change using the principle of continuous improvement. By taking small steps to address the big picture of needed changes, great strides can be made. Sales and marketing integration needs an evolution, not a revolution. Take a long-term view. One step at a time will get you there.