One of the biggest challenges with the ‘sales and marketing marriage’ issue is that the two have very different time horizons. A salesman is only interested in this year’s bonus, so has minimal interest in activity that results in a sale next year or the year after. By contrast, marketers recognise that brands, reputations and relationships can take longer to develop.
This is the dilemma I face with my brand. I have a sales team who are heavily incentivised to deliver some pretty big targets this year.
While I am equally keen to ensure we deliver our numbers, I also recognise that this year’s deals are more influenced by what I did last year… and what I do today is much more likely to prepare the ground for next year’s order book.
But this is a hard message to sell. While I seek support for a brand advertising campaign and start to warm up the market for a product launch next year, the sales team want me to invest my budget in helping them deliver today.
The problem deepens with product development. Part of our governance process is to get sign-off from the sales director that they have a pipeline of opportunities for any new product. But my Philip Kotler textbook tells me I should have a portfolio of new products going through their lifecycles so I always have something new to sell. The investments we are considering today are probably for sales that will be made in two, three or even four years’ time – for which there is no hint of a sales pipeline, other than perhaps a piece of dodgy market research that predicts future demand.
My final quandary is when trying to play the game by demonstrating an immediate return from my marketing activity, in the form of generating sales leads. But what constitutes a lead? In the B2C world this is much easier to comprehend, as it is when a customer responds to a mailing or sales call. But what if they leave their details at my stand at an exhibition? What if they download something from my website? What if they accept an invitation to my event? These are all leads I would hope the sales team could follow through, but to them there is no firm product or offering they want to buy, and no notional value aligned to it, so how can they put a monetary value on it?
If marketers are from Mars, sales people are definitely from Venus.