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INSIDE SALES ENTREPRENEUR, CO-FOUNDER OF INSIDESALES.COM.
TIPS, RESEARCH, AND BEST PRACTICES FOR SELLING REMOTELY

Having just re-read sales and marketing blogger Adam Needle’s 4 part series on the “Unspoken ‘Real State’ of Modern B2B Demand Generation,” I once again cannot commend enough the value of the data and analysis he presents. If you have any interest at all in B2B sales, marketing, branding, or sales management, this is a fantastic set of articles.

So go read them now, and then come back.

Welcome back.

One the biggest challenges of my current position with InsideSales.com is making the connections between sales and marketing more visible, repeatable, and cost effective.

And a key idea that kept pounding in my head while I reviewed Adam’s material was that aligning sales and marketing is difficult because employees on each side largely come from two different production “cultures.”

In a nutshell, sales are largely business types, marketing people are creatives—and getting the two to take a look through the other’s “lens” often sends them into foreign territory.

Most sales people are brought up through the ranks of business schools—or at least integrated into a business culture. Whether or not they actually finish a college degree, good sales pros typically show an interest in management, business, and corporate practices. Even sales reps brought up through the “school of hard knocks” without any formal education eventually get enculturated into a business mindset:

Production, ROI, pipelines, and bottom line. Inventory, cash flow, expenses versus revenue.

Marketing people, on the other and, generally see themselves as artists. Communicators of a deep, psychological mystery that connects them (and their marketing message / brand) to the human race at large. They’re designers, writers, illustrators, graphic artists, brand experts, ad campaign managers.

This is not to say that the two sides can’t cross over into the other’s territory. But at their roots, the core “language,” the underlying views and ways of thinking for each side are fundamentally, intrinsically different.

Now of course, any good marketing or advertising executive will tell you that the bottom line is ALWAYS more sales. But when I talk about “culture,” or “language” I’m not talking about the conversations that go on in weekly management or sales meetings—I’m talking about the internal dialogue of the employees doing the actual work. The self-perception of those sitting at their desks, pounding out digits on their keyboard or phone (of course, our sales reps don’t literally “pound the phone,” since they’re using our PowerDialer sales tool, but I digress).

The bottom line is that the language of sales is about ever-increasing numbers and revenue. The language of marketing is about “connecting” with people.

More on this tomorrow.

(Editor’s Note: Rod Sloane makes an interesting comment below, stating that most sales types he knows largely “fell out” of the ranks of a typical college education. Just to clarify, my point is not to say that sales reps are “college educated,” merely to say that whether college-educated or not, most of them self-select themselves as being part of a “business culture” and “business mindset”—competition, results-oriented, facing challenges, etc.)

Author: Ken Krogue |
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5 thoughts on “Aligning Sales and Marketing – It’s Not Just About Metrics, It’s Culture

  1. Crikey

    You know some well educated sales types.

    Most of the ones I know left school without much academic success.

    Culture is important, but the culture in the business.

    Rod

  2. Rod,

    I’m in a unique sales environment, that’s for sure.

    Geographically, we’re located less than 5 miles from two universities (we’re in Provo, next to BYU and Utah Valley University), both with enrollments over 25,000 students.

    BYU is ranked in the Top 5 nationally for accounting programs, and in the Top 50 for MBAs.

    Both Utah Valley and BYU have respected computer science programs.

    Our current offices are housed in a sub-unit of the Novell campus.

    The bottom line: we are literally drowning in talent down here, and our sales reps are typically smart, motivated, and educated.

    I was unsurprised when Omniture (they’re located in a neighboring city, Orem) got bought out by Adobe last year for over $1.8 billion–because our market has the talent available to make a venture like that happen.

    That being said, you did make me re-think how I had worded my original post though. I think the point is not that all sales reps are college educated (or even make the attempt), only that at some point, most good, long-standing sales professionals identify themselves within the “culture of business.”

  3. Pingback: Sales and Marketing "Cultural Alignment" Part 2 | Ken Krogue

  4. Pingback: B2B Sales and Marketing "Cultural Alignment" Part 3 | Ken Krogue

  5. Ken, good post, thank you.

    To help bridge the gap, we’ve implemented weekly ‘stand up’ meetings in the field between Marketing and Sales. The purpose is for Sales to get good visibility to weekly lead flow and Marketing to gain real-time insights to quality and lead disposition. Helps get them both on the same page.

    In my experience, Marketing has becomes much more data-driven in the past couple of years – lead scoring, nurturing, funnel management, revenue-cycle waterfalls and the like… Sales could learn a thing or two from them – http://www.datadrivensalesmanagement.com/2012/04/22/marketing-scores-leads-why-doesnt-sales-score-opportunities/.

    –Swayne

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