Why there is a Sales & Marketing Chiasm

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In my last blog post “Why Sales throws Marketing under the bus (and how you can avoid the fatalities)” it is clear that we struck a nerve that has a profound effect on a number of organizations. I got some great comments and feedback from a lot of you on your personal experiences in this area. So I wanted to delve a little deeper and see what the professional research groups had to say about this and what type of statistics they could provide.

A good friend of mine Dr. Emily Coleman the CEO of Competitive Advantage Marketing, (www.colemanmgmt.com), sent me this link after reading my last blog: http://www.cmo.com/sales/why-sales-doesnt-use-your-presentation. This is a great article by Bob Wright of Firebrick Consulting (www.firebk.com), and Bob gave me permission to quote some of the content he provided.

I want to provide some great insights into why there is a Sales & Marketing Chiasm.
• Firebrick Consulting did a survey of 50 technology industry sales leaders and found that 78% of those leaders reported that their teams are creating their own sales presentations!
• They found that many Marketing departments are stuck in the success of the past and unable to craft a narrative or positioning story that resonates with the new buyers.
• Because sales people are spending a lot of their time creating their own presentations, and not out selling, the following things happen:
o Everyone in the field is telling a different story
o Sales cycles get drawn out
o Close rates go down
o Customers get confused and salespeople get frustrated

Their research further uncovered that the large majority of what Marketing produces for Sales just sits on the shelf. “Fewer than 25% of the sales leaders they surveyed use presentations they get from Marketing. More than 75% say they never or only occasionally use what they get from Marketing.

According to IDC, 58% of a vendor’s marketing content is not relevant to buyers. They estimate that this disconnect (chiasm) reduces the vendor’s chance of closing by 45%.

I think we all can agree that salespeople need a relevant value proposition in order to win business. Over 65% of sales leaders in a Miller Heiman study reported that they were losing business because they didn’t have a compelling value proposition that was tied to relevant market dynamics to sell with.

Perhaps the biggest reason why marketing messages fail to connect with customer issues is that they are typically created top down, from a broad corporate or branding point of view and not from the buyer’s point of view. Bob Wright points out that “Our research shows there is a wide gap between what Sales needs and what Marketing currently provides. This isn’t an indictment of Marketing, just evidence that the purpose of marketing messages is different from the purpose of sales messages. Marketing is trying to drive long-term market demand and brand preference. Sales is trying to drive short-term performance.”

In an article from Gartner Research “How CMO’s can close the Sales and Marketing divide” September 2008, they stated that “More effective proposal management and presentation creation processes can reduce the time required for sales to prepare such deliverables by as much as 50%.” They also stated that “CMO’s who rely on direct field sales forces should reassess how their marketing organizations can support selling activities to close the sales and marketing divide. They should investigate measures to improve sales content to better prepare sales to engage prospects.”

Gartner further commented “When sales content is developed, delivered and used effectively, it can be a significant competitive weapon. However, the traditional model of marketing devising the content and disseminating it to sales as a one-way dialogue is increasingly viewed as inadequate. Materials usually end up accumulating unused and neglected on sales portals, while sales representatives remain frustrated trying to access information critical for calls. In addition, the content generated by marketing often lacks the insight or relevance for specific sales events that salespersons need.”

I want to thank my noted colleagues for their research and comments as they point out that in order for Sales and Marketing to close the chiasm and gap between them, and become more aligned, they need to collaborate and listen to each other. Both groups need to tear down the silos that have kept them apart and start to work together for the good of the whole organization. Those CMO’s and CSO’s who can lay down their egos and work towards communicating together will improve the quality, relevance and usability of all sales content and customer-facing collateral.

The bottom line is the content that Marketing creates needs to be effective and relevant to the sales process. It needs to resonate with both buyers and salespeople and be something that sales people will use to help them close more business faster.

What are your thoughts and comments?

  1. Chuck – I really like this blog not only because it takes about the daily marketing related issues that I face as a Business Developer, but also because it substantiate its suggestions with hardcore statistic. This is enlightening as it deals with facts and figures which have more impact on human thinking than mere text.

    I would like to add that in my previous tech company the presentation which the sales used were prepared by a Technology team that acted as an interface between sales and marketing team. Considering that we were selling Hi tech software solution that was a good approach. Furthermore, marketing team was helping the tech team to customize the presentation to cater the need to sales team. Also, while implementing this strategy, I did not witness any clash of thoughts between sales & marketing team. Nevertheless, the process that worked in my past company may not work in other industry….

    Keep up the discussion and help other learn from your experiences and ideas.. Thanks..