Sales and marketing should not be in separate silos
About every five or ten years, articles appear in the business press on the subject of how to align sales and marketing. Why this subject should arise with such apparent regularity would suggest that old outdated ideas of business still prevail and that a silo mentality still persists amongst many involved in business development.
Whatever maybe the perceived importance of specialist business activities, the prime purpose of any business is to make money, for the benefit of the owners and the workforce, regardless of whether it is a business for manufacturing, retail or professional services. Businesses make money by producing goods and services which customers want to buy. Whatever a business makes or type of service it provides, money is only produced when the goods or services are actually sold to a customer. It is only from the act of selling that income is derived for the business in question, thus the ability to “sell” is crucial to the success of every business.
Although the term “selling” is clearly defined in The Oxford English Dictionary as “making over or disposing of in exchange for money,” there is no universally accepted definition of Marketing. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) defines Marketing as “the management process that identifies anticipates and satisfies customer requirements profitably”. Anticipating and satisfying customer demands requires many customer related activities including, advertising and promotion, marketing research, product development, brand management, and distribution but also includes making the sale, which is the executive function that ultimately brings in the money.
While the ability to sell is fundamental to business success, businesses frequently refer to “marketing” goods and services when they actually mean advertising and selling, as though there were something wrong with the action of selling. Articles in the business press would also suggest that many marketers seem confused about their role, appearing to have limited objectives, in the highly specialized disciplines of social media, communications and brand image, but having little or nothing to do with selling.
However to be effective, the generation of sustainable profitable income for the long term future of any business requires the collective management of all the customer related activities under a single manager.
The internationally famous management consultant, the late Peter Drucker once said” if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it”.
If managing assets and resources to produce profitable income is the responsibility of a commercial manager, then using performance measurements not just for sales but across all customer related activities is essential for their effective management. In all probability the majority of businesses would be hard pressed to quantify how much they actually spend or invest in getting and retaining business and might be surprised at the true costs involved.
If marketers aspire to reach senior management as commercial managers with the overall responsibility for producing profitable income, they must learn to speak the language of senior management, namely profit, revenue and costs. Marketers must be able to quantify and demonstrate in relevant performance measurements, the contribution to the business of their various customer related activities, both for the immediate and the long term, and not confine themselves to their own particular specializations. This means that they must be able to understand and manage all the resources necessary for producing income, including the sales function, in an integrated manner. In short, if marketing is a management function, then it requires professional managers to operate it. To that end, marketers will have to prove themselves be good leaders, managers and motivators, able to think strategically for the long term development of the business.
Sales managers are taken seriously by senior management because they can produce clear measurements of their performance in sales figures that relate directly to the levels of profitable income produced. Effective commercial management also relies of relevant performance measurements. Those who consider marketing to be about brand and communications, especially through social media, limit themselves and the importance of their contribution. Such performance data that they produce rarely relates clearly to income produced. Business is about profit and profit is about revenue and costs, not brand and image.
If marketers confine themselves only to the language of brand, image, and CRM they are unlikely to qualify themselves for higher management.