Sales and Marketing relationships
How important is an effective sales and marketing relationship? Dr Kenneth Le Meunier-FItzHugh, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of East Anglia explains
How you create the most effective relationship between the sales and marketing functions within an organisation remains a critical dilemma for many business executives. Sales and marketing functions have the capability to help the organisation adapt to rapidly changing environments through providing information on customer needs and the activities of your competitors.
Research has found that collaboration between sales and marketing has positive effects, not just on profitability, but also customer satisfaction and retention, resulting in maximum benefits for the organisation. However, it's also been found that sales and marketing functions have their own different cultures, behaviours and objectives that are often conflicting, which can impede collaboration, and their working relationships are often described as unsatisfactory. As a result, achieving an effective sales and marketing relationship has proved elusive for many businesses.
Sales and marketing functions should have the common goals of understanding customer needs and solving their problems in a way that is superior to their competitors. Marketing can lay the foundation for sales success through communication with the market place, creating brand value and producing promotional materials. Marketing actions should dovetail with sales so that they can deliver the value that the market demands. For this to happen it's necessary for sales to have a clear and unambiguous idea of what marketing is trying to achieve and how they intend to achieve it.
Sales should feed customer and marketing information into marketing decision-making to aid their market comprehension. Sales and marketing need to collaborate over the development of sales leads and creating the customer journey. Each manager needs to push their counterpart to deliver on their jointly conceptualised customer value and this can only happen when sales have a deep understanding of marketing, and marketing really appreciates what sales is trying to achieve.
It's important to defuse any conflict between sales and marketing and not to try to avoid it. Naturally, some conflict between functions is helpful in ensuring that preconceptions are challenged, decisions discussed and objectives are met. The trick is to prevent conflict from becoming dysfunctional or destructive, so that collaboration is always maintained.
This can be achieved through building communication and trust on both parts. By bringing sales and marketing together to discuss options and solutions to joint problems and tasks it's possible to use their different perceptions of the market to create customer value. Most importantly, sales and marketing need to collaborate through areas of overlap in their operations such as marketing intelligence, new product development, customer management, the creation of sales leads and the customer journey.
To achieve the greatest success, the aim is to create a situation where there is a dynamic interaction or synergy between the two functional areas that results in greater value for the organisation that they can create independently.