CIM ‘merge marketing with sales’ call sparks hot debate

Marketers have rejected a call by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) for marketing to be merged with sales but do want to see greater alignment between marketing and all key departments in a company to maintain sales performance.

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Cadbury’s Gorilla ad: Could it have been thought up by sales?

The Charted Institute of Marketing (CIM) has called on companies to merge marketing with sales to safeguard the former’s future and reputation in organisations that are already “relegating” the importance of marketing given the current economic environment.

A fusion of two departments, it adds, would lead to a shared view of the customer and common goal, essential to drive improvements in revenue and productivity, while reducing duplication and wastage.

Marketers, however, have questioned the logic of a forced union adding that marketing needs to be closely aligned to sales in just the same way as it should work closely with all departments in an organisation.

Simon Wallis, sales and marketing at Dominos, says: “While it’s vital that sales and marketing work side by side, it is also essential that they are closely aligned with procurement and operations too. All of these functions are key to managing short term sales within the business while maintaining our long term brand health.”

David Thorp, director of research and professional development at the CIM and author of the report, argues that there are fewer differences between the two “brother and sister” functions than many believe.

He argues that historically, marketing has its roots in sales but the two have drifted apart as marketing became viewed as a “pseudo science” and marketers “elitist” in the eyes of sales. A merger would stop the “siloed thinking” and “subtle conflict” that has arisen, he adds.

However, Phil Rumbol, founding partner of agency 101 London and former Cadbury marketing director, argues that the CIM has “completely missed the point about why each exists in the first place”.

“The role of marketing is to build sustainable demand for brands, while sales is there to convert this demand into sales. There is therefore a healthy tension between the longer brand demand focus of marketing and the short term revenue focus of sales.

The CIM has received support from some marketers who believe a merged department can work in some sectors.

Simon Carter, marketing director at Fujitsu, says that for those sectors that are sales-led it is “critical” that the two work together. John Lewis marketing director Craig Inglis agrees that the two can “sit well together” in the right business.

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