Sales and marketing are two customer-facing forces that may seem to be pulling in different directions, with sales action-oriented, focused on day to day relationships and the short term and marketing more cerebral, creative and long-term oriented.
These are actually the yin and the yang of organizations. With power shifting from seller to buyer, now more than ever you need a perfect balance of both.
Marketing and sales need to work together even though the sales side of the organization in a product company is generally focused and rewarded on volume while marketing’s evaluation is generally done on price. In a service environment, volume may mean size of the engagement and, because of the long closing cycle, sales may be tempted to focus on chasing the white elephant while the pipeline sits empty.
How can the two teams relate in the day-to-day, monthly and quarterly basis? How can everyone get on the same page when it comes to serving customers?
It is really important to understand how differently the sales and marketing groups think and what that means as respects how they behave. What does each group hear when it comes to translating the organization's goals into their work?
To do that, let's consider the potential business development profiles of a sales team vis-a-vis the marketing group. Enter the Birkman® Method. You are probably familiar with behavioral tools such as DISC personality and the Myers-Briggs typology type. I had been charted with those too before Faye Patterson, a consultant trained in the Birkman Method, opened a whole new world to me. You can read all about the science behind the Birkman here.
For the analytical in us, the Birkman is empirically-driven, it measures interests, and provides a variety of reports that capture your everyday underlying motivations, expectations, and the signs of stress behavior -- where you go when the world bounces off you, critical information to have when so many of our interactions are outward-facing these days. The winning part of this instrument, aside from the very large body of data it sits on, is how it integrates behaviors with interests.
Chances are, if you chart your organization using this instrument, you will find that most of your top sales people have a direct communication style and are on the people vs. task side of things. Your rainmakers may be more in the direct task style, and remain there even when under stress, which may be a little hard on the organization as these people are quite driven.
Your pure marketing group, that is those who started life in marketing -- many, particularly in a company that relies heavily on technical expertise, may have shifted to marketing from sales -- may sit more on the systems/task side. They are process-oriented, organizers and indirect in their style. Can you see where this is going?
Where it comes to your team's interests and goals, the sales group is very much direct and task-oriented, with a very practical focus, decisive, logical and objective and energetic style. While the marketing group may range from direct to indirect and people-oriented, comfortable presenting ideas and concepts, and imaginative. They are the planners of future business opportunities and focused on long-term benefits.
What happens when the organization is subjected to stress?
Your sales team becomes too busy to listen, insensitive, impulsive and restless. Your marketing group either becomes over-controlling, quietly resistive and rigid, or dominating, self-protective, easily distracted, and argumentative. Sounds familiar?
Isn't this too much information? Why do you need to learn so much about behaviors?
When you chart your teams using such an empirically-driven instrument, you provide a common language for everyone in the organization.
Your teams can now process and understand their strengths and behaviors at individual level and at group's level. And you can take that all the way to the bank. Because now your two groups can learn how to think and work together. And that, ladies and gentlemen, will make your organization's financial performance one that rivals opening night at La Scala.