B2B Sales and Marketing “Cultural Alignment” Part 2

In my last blog post, I discussed the fact that sales and marketing teams largely come from a different set of internal “cultures,” cultures whose viewpoints and and attitudes are often at odds with each other.

In Part 2, I want to take a closer look at this concept, because as sales and marketing teams continue to evolve, and move ever closer in alignment, at some point the “culture war” between the two will spill over into the corporate workroom.

In review: Sales “culture” is business- and results-oriented; marketing “culture” is connection- and human-interest driven.

The question becomes, when push comes to shove, which viewpoint takes precedence?

BNet Business guru Geoffrey James gives us the answer—and it’s based on a belief I’ve long held myself:

“In business-to-business (B2B) firms, the legendary conflict between sales and marketing stems from a difference of opinion about what marketing should be doing. Most marketing professionals believe that they should primarily be concerned with market research, building brand equity and creating marketing materials. Most sales professionals believe that marketing should be generating qualified sales leads.”

Very true. But the next part is where the article gets interesting:

“This is part of the blog where I’m supposed to be diplomatic and politically correct, and write some yada-yada-yada about teamwork and respecting differences, etc., etc.

Forget that. Here’s the honest truth: Marketing is dead wrong; Sales is dead right. In B2B environments, marketing is only useful insofar as it generates qualified sales leads. Period. The glamorous activities near and dear to the hearts of B2B marketers everywhere have almost no impact on selling, other than driving up the cost of sales . . . [Marketing should be compensated] based upon its ability to reduce cost of sales. Period.”

And as much is it will pain my own internal marketing team to hear it, Geoffrey James is right.

I don’t want to devalue the work, effort, and talent of marketers (especially my own), but in the B2B space, the best value a marketing team provides is in the ways it can get my sales team more qualified leads today.

The question for B2B sales and marketing managers then becomes, what does this mean from a corporate development standpoint? How can you align a marketing team to produce leads without hurting, or challenging marketers’ deeply held beliefs about the need to create an emotional connection between a buyer and a product, a person and a brand?

Stay tuned for Sales and Marketing “Cultural Alignment” Part 3

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

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