Note - This is one of my favorite interviews, especially if you are looking to learn how to bring out the best in your sales team.
Leadership sets the tone for sales and marketing. Buy-in from leadership is an absolute must if sales and marketing alignment is going to be achieved. Unfortunately, many executives unknowingly sabotage their teams. For example, this can happen either by focusing on pathways to growth that end up as illusions or by giving too much emphasis to one department over the other.
If you identify with any of the scenarios discussed below, it may be time to shift your company's (and maybe even your personal) mindset. The good news is if you're willing to do so, you can become a change agent within your organization and help get the ship back on course.
Leadership Perceptions Derail Sales and Marketing Integration
C-suite leadership is primarily concerned with promoting growth and increasing profitability. However, there may be a wide variety of opinions among company executives regarding the right direction for their organization. Here are just a few examples of how leaders can unwittingly undercut their own potential for growth:
Cutting Costs vs. Promoting Growth
What's the common thread that runs through each one of these viewpoints? It's an emphasis on cutting costs rather than promoting growth. Saving on expenses and streamlining sales and marketing processes is great. However, inaccurate perceptions from an organization's leadership can potentially drive a company into the ground.
The fact is that both sales reps and marketers have to work hard to get their jobs done properly. Salespeople must be determined, great at communication, and able to relate to and truly connect with prospects. Marketers must ensure that consumers have a favorable first impression of the brand. Their goal is to keep your brand top of mind when consumers make purchase decisions.
Sales and marketing roles both require highly specific skill sets. And when your sales and marketing teams align with one another, those skill sets blend and help your company perform at its very best.
Is Leadership Inadvertently Hindering Sales and Marketing Synergy?
Is senior management accidentally smothering opportunities for growth among your sales and marketing teams? Here are a few key questions you can ask to find out:
In many cases, the root of the issue comes down to trust. Many managers struggle with trusting their sales and marketing teams. They want to see results without considering the processes ultimately responsible for those results. They may believe their job is to micromanage every aspect of sales and marketing — instead of setting clear guidelines and letting team members develop creative solutions within those guidelines.
Interestingly, both leaders with a strong background in sales and marketing and leaders without that background can fall into a pattern of undervaluing those two departments. For example, a leader who made a name as a star salesperson may not be skilled at managing a sales pipeline from end to end. Or that leader may not appreciate the critical role that marketing plays in feeding that pipeline.
On the other hand, leaders without strong sales/marketing backgrounds may subscribe to the notion that their products can "sell themselves." They may be more interested in cutting costs than understanding how highly skilled and trained sales reps can contribute to sustainable growth.
5 Signs That Leadership is Killing Sales
What are some common symptoms that indicate your company's leadership is actually killing sales and marketing alignment? Here are five indications that should be red flags:
Leaders build or reinforce a culture that undervalues sales and marketing efforts.
This may be subtly indicated by internal messaging that focuses almost exclusively on product features, instead of acknowledging individual efforts by marketers and sales reps.
Leaders don't see the point of spending money on sales and marketing initiatives.
If senior management is more inclined to cut budgets and personnel for your sales and marketing departments as opposed to giving them the resources to succeed, that's a major indication that a mindset shift is needed — and soon!
Leaders choose quick fixes instead of long-term solutions.
Sure, the outsourced sales company may be 60% cheaper than your current payroll. But will those workers effectively explain your brand's unique value proposition (UVP)? How many potential customers will your company lose? And how many current customers will stop doing business with you?
Leaders argue against investment in integrated technology solutions.
Here again, the emphasis is on keeping costs low instead of actively investing in assets that can contribute to sustainable growth for your sales and marketing teams.
Leaders perceive individual team members as interchangeable commodities.
The simple fact is that not all salespeople are created equal. Leaders must realize that it may be difficult — even impossible — to replace one sales superstar's output with that of five new hires. Such skilled employees should be celebrated and nurtured, rather than treated like another number on the payroll.
If you've observed these kinds of actions or attitudes coming from your leadership team, or even from yourself, don't despair! Becoming aware of the problem is the first step toward overcoming it. If you can successfully initiate a mindset shift in your organization, you'll be that much closer to aligning and supercharging your sales and marketing teams.
A healthy relationship between sales and marketing is vital to an organization’s success. Dive deep into this effective strategy in a new book called Sales & Marketing Alignment. If you'd like more insights on how you can improve your sales leadership, contact us. Or sign up for our newsletter for more valuable resources.