It’s time to break down business silos and align to common goals

It’s time to break down business silos and align to common goals

We’ve heard this so many times, from so many leaders:

“It’s time to break down silos. It’s time to unite. It’s time to collaborate. It’s time to be consumer centric.”

But given all the talk, why are so many leaders failing to take action?

I’ve started a series looking at the ‘Great Divides’. Where I focus on the key divides that Marketing leaders need to break down within an organisation. Here are the first four:

And here’s a summary of comments from a LinkedIn Group where I posed the question:

What are the top 3 barriers preventing you from aligning Marketing and Sales?

It continues to spark a fair amount of discussion.

  • Shirley Frank Their results are measured very differently and while they may work in the same company, they do live in 2 different worlds. Does marketing have the product or industry expertise needed? If not, why not have product managers as opposed to sales educate them? Can the marketing people write at all? Sales people learn to think like their prospects. Who does marketing think like? The internet is a like a vacuum and you know nature abhors a vacuum so people fill it with poor content over and over again. Not helpful to sales, and more importantly not helpful to the prospects. Prospects do a lot more research now but I would not assume they want to wade through volumes to find the 4 or 5 basic pieces of information they want to determine if they want to meet with a rep from your company.

    Keep it simple and straightforward. They know how to email or call if they are truly interested. It seems like volume of content matters far more than quality.

    Sales people have a job – selling.

  • Cheryl Swanson, Integrated Marketing/Sales VP

    Cheryl Swanson, Integrated Marketing/Sales VP Forget volume. If you learn one thing about marketing and sales, ROI is about efficiency…refining whatever it is…from the prospecting content to the leads. Spend more time on getting the right refined quantity, not volume. I taught a small business sales team this over ten years ago when they were prospecting based on “combining 3 data set sources to get the most prospect count and thus, leads” instead of focusing on refining the criteria to those who are *proven* to buy in a smaller higher selling ratio prospect count vs. *might someday* buy because they live in the zip code prospect count. Immediate results. Yes, for content, you have to think like the buyers; ideally directly from them via insight-gathering, sales-training experts, and the top sales leaders to validate/agree/prioritize. It truly is a collaborative process.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner Thanks Shirley. Agree different worlds and measures, but why aren’t there overarching goals that both Marketing and Sales live and die by? From your comment it feels like content is a stumbling block for you. I’ve written about marketing and sales being approached from a customer lifecycle perspective here. Wonder if that would solve it?

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner Thanks Cheryl. Collaborative yes, but so many businesses seem to say that versus actually do it. Blog link in above comment may help. Where I pose that marketing comes first, but a sales mentality must be applied throughout the stages of lead nurturing, inbound CM, customer relationship and advocacy. WDYT?

  • Shirley Frank Anton – I agree with you in theory at least somewhat. Your definition of Marketing is a little different than what I have seen and experienced. The subject of content is an annoyance to me as it is pervasive and it seems like people are more concerned with their content than in actually selling anything which I think is the whole point. Also, yes there should be corporate goals that unite the two groups but again, in practice not usually in the real world.

    It seems as though people think content sells. Only if it answers the basic questions, then it could help. But it doesn’t.

    Anyone in “solution sales” mentally knows the fundamental things clients are looking at. ROI, TCO… KPI’s. Companies need to get real about their actual value to clients.

    The tech industry is a great example. The vast majority of software or SaaS products are not unique. They are sold under the solution sales model, but in reality they are commodities.

  • Shirley Frank Anton – The truth is most of these products are extremely difficult to differentiate one from the next at least in the same genre. (Only one person have I heard admit this re software and he is in the win/loss analysis business. )

    So the first question both sales and marketing need to ask themselves is why you? Why should a customer buy anything from you? Ask a vendor to differentiate their product and they stumble and falter. They resort to the jargon of the day which of course does not answer the question. My experience with software is surprisingly enough “ease of use” is a big reason people buy one over another and ease of integration with existing systems. But someone needs to sit down and write down ALL of the reasons a potential buyer would even consider you. Be tough on yourselves because the market won’t be kind if you’re not.

  • Shirley Frank Once you have that at least be prepared to describe the problems that your “solution ” solves. Specific problems that you can demonstrate ROI and TCO so you don’t sound like a wind up doll that speaks in jargon. If you don’t know the problems you can solve, you have no business writing content. And understanding the justification the client must go through financially will explain the need for actual math to back up what you’re saying. Client studies, references, then may be useful as supporting evidence. Sales people need marketing to product real leads with the right people. Most people doing lead generation are simply bad at it. If it is the right company it is the wrong person etc. If marketing does not generate real leads from their various activities sales ignores marketing. Rightfully so. Sales people have their income impacted. Marketing does not. Therein lies the chasm. Sales is paid on results. Marketing is paid if they produce terrible leads that in fact are not leads.
  • Shirley Frank Anton – So for all the happy talk about content – to me most content is so far from anything actually useful to a sales person at any point in the cycle… and most companies I guarantee you cannot answer the most basic question as to “Why you”?
  • Shirley Frank Anton -Pay marketing on results and then get back to me. I guarantee you most of the content they generate now would disappear. They would suddenly get serious about what is and is not a lead. Marketing need to do their jobs as though their mortgage depended on it. For sales people, their mortgage does depend on results. Financial measurable results. Tough to square that circle but in real life that is what it comes down to.
  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner agree totally that most content marketing is rubbish. There’s far too much of it and as you say the people that publish it have no methodology or understanding that it’s supposed to build value and drive towards a sale and beyond.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner I’m using marketing as a company wide approach. All employees are marketers and should have personal social profiles where they build stories about their business, products and services. And hence sales is a subset. And everything should be based around consumer relevance – which as you say is solution selling.

    Great points – many thanks

  • Fabrice ANCEL

    Fabrice ANCEL It’s just a question of ROI. 1$ invested in marketing should generate 2$ in sales. Show me the money ! marketing and sales will be aligned

  • Jim King

    Jim King Sales and marketing are too separate and need to come more together.

  • Bryan Socransky

    Bryan Socransky Sales has revenue goals and Marketing has other goals like lead gen activity. Give them different goals and you will inevitably have misalignment. If you want to fore perfect alignment give them the same revenue goals.

  • Tsufit ✭

    Tsufit ✭ What, exactly, do you mean by aligning marketing and sales, Anton? Do you mean that the 2 departments are in alignment about how they approach a customer or campaign? Or do you mean alignment in the sense that the marketing leads directly to sales, like hitting the cue ball in pool helps you sink the ball.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner Hi Tsufit. As Bryan says I mean aligning to the same goals. Marketing teams can then focus on how to best market the business/product/service to generate awareness / interest, Sales can then help nurture people to a decision that suits them best, then Marketing can help onboard new customers into the brand world and highlight all the channel/connection/service opportunities. Then Sales & Marketing teams can work together to upsell / cross sell at relevant moments. And marketers and sales people can harness the power of true advocacy. All this needs alignment towards the same business goals. Then specific departments can have specific subgoals and KPIs.Make sense? I see too many teams fighting against each other, finger pointing, blaming, etc and too much ego standing in the way of working together. All it creates is inefficiency and inconsistent connection with consumers.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner I had a Sales person call me yesterday a day after a customer relationship manager called me from the same company. Out of sync. Makes them look stupid. And I have been a customer of theirs for over 7 years.

  • Scott Campbell

    Scott Campbell Yes, different goals make for different motivations. Marketing and sales bring slightly different perspectives. But I think when they’re working closely together, it makes for a big advantage over the competition.

  • Jim King

    Jim King Marketing and sales create too many of their own barriers.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner Agree Jim. Must work closer together and realise it is a united front, not an ego-driven turf war

  • Jean-Guillaume Burlet

    Jean-Guillaume Burlet I can think of two ways of aligning Sales & Marketing: one is having the same bottom line (i.e. targets), other is having the same corp vision (i.e. C-level). Online players have an advantage in that they apprehend business from a unique standpoint – alignment by design if you like. We need to seek the same kind of synergy and common DNA to reach the alignment you pursue.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner Good point. Online players have advantage. Traditional companies trying to transform need to work harder to align

  • Hans Woudboer

    Hans Woudboer Revenue is a necessary but not sufficient metric.
    I’m missing here customer profitability and only then you know what you’re doing when you are adding more sales to your company.
    That way you would align
    marketing and sales and could have it linked with the company’s vision and strategy.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner absolutely Hans! Revenue is fairly useless. Profit or marginal contribution analysis is key

  • Hans Woudboer

    Hans Woudboer Thanks Anton!
    This way you have a team approach where both marketing and sales and other key parties of the company would go after one goal by using the proper metric.

  • Charles A. Buie

    Charles A. Buie For me it starts with having one person in charge of both groups. That person can focus both team on the same goals and objective – what marketing promotes, to whom and how, and how the sales team follow through on their end. Both groups pursuing the different parts of the same strategy. Of course, it also helps if funding is in place to help drive the activity.

  • Jim King

    Jim King In most companies sales and marketing are too separate.

  • Chris Vick

    Chris Vick Marketing think about the art of the possible and the outcome the product can provide. We then find the message becomes diluted when products need to be sold and quota hit by sales

  • Winfried Schultz

    Winfried Schultz Common understanding of how customers are buying. Agree who will be responsible and accountable for each stage/conversion of the customer journey. Use metrics that reenforce the value stream and are meaningful to all stakeholders. And last but not least: have a sincere appreciation and respect for all activities helping to make the sale. 

  • Clayton Oxford

    Clayton Oxford Identifying the gaps between marketing and sales strategies in both marketing collateral + process flows, and how that material is efficiently utilized on the sales side to increase results, while still promoting marketing/branding efforts. Three vital and perpetually evolving components to maximize effectiveness between the two… Communication, Data, and Time. 

  • Bob Cooper

    Bob Cooper While the Internet has dramatically accelerated the convergence of Marketing and Sales they still remain two significantly different thrusts within an organization. Marketing remains, even with the help of big data, focus groups and test markets, the breath-taking process of designing and building profitable products customers will pay for in the future. Selling is the process of profitably converting products to revenue regardless of what is on the self.

  • Jim Chappell

    Jim Chappell I’d actually expand the notion to include the need to align both marketing and sales with customer success/support teams as the broader customer lifecycle is what companies really need to operate effectively. But, to answer the question directly, I think alignment challenges often live in segmentation (who are we targeting), messaging (what is our value to them) and content development (what objects do we build to engage our audience with the right messages).

  • Benjamin Cornett

    Benjamin Cornett 1. Lack of communication between marketing and sales. I’m on the phone with my sales team multiple times a week. I need to hear their issues and drive content that helps them overcome challenges. 2. In effective tools. I’ve found that we can develop tools that work in our office but not in the field. We constantly work to close the gap so we have a omni like experience. 3. Vision & Sales Methods. Over the years I’ve learned that things come down to sales for self or sales for the client. When it’s sales for self it’s all about building personal income even if the product isn’t the perfect solution to the client. When we look at sales for the client, it seems we win more long-term relationships and repeat or cross sales. Put marketing into this mix…we then have to drive content based on style; however, focused toward the Service Dominant Logic theory of marketing.

  • Ramon Vidal

    Ramon Vidal Too often both departments are misaligned, especially in largest companies, mainly because the leaders also are. Making it simple, firstly General Manager has to align both Directors and establishing consistent and coincident KPI’s and SLA’s ( in terms of revenue and profitability), and the most important both teams has to understand that companies has common targets. Invite marketing guys, to have the experience to be REALLY in front of the customers and try to sell “the magic products created /developed” by them and in the other way around. Until now I’m talking about traditional marketing and sales. Totally different scenario appears when new techs and marketing /sales methods came on. Digital world is one of the best tools to solve the misalignment. Customer satisfaction and usability are 2 of the key connectors to have a loyal customer/user . 

  • Kenneth Dela Cerna

    Kenneth Dela Cerna Objectives,Motivation, Culture

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner Thanks Rich. Yes seems to have struck a chord. Love your point on “thinking”. Feels like too much ego and naval gazing. But as you say Sales and Marketing must work together now.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner Yes culture is key. However culture must come from the top down and bottom up. It can’t be created by a Culture Team (which I’ve seen fail badly with a major financial institution in Australia).

    Maybe we also need to do away with the word “pipeline”. It is unemotional. It ignores that prospects/consumers are humans! And it feels like a production line of getting people through at all cost having squeezed them along the way. Any ideas of a new name for pipeline?

  • Olivier Riviere

    Olivier Riviere Very true Anton, culture cannot be created by a “culture team” it must come from the whole company and be emboddied by the top management . Regarding the alignment of Marketing & Sales, I believe that the fundamental barrier is simplty (and sadly) that each group doesn’t understand the culture and “reality” of the other group..

    In my experience, the best way to break these barriers in a durable way, is to have cross-functional team working together on complex business issues and campaigns. This of course means that objectives and goals are shared and that the senior management is behind this initiative.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner Yes Olivier. Agree! Have outlined that as a solution here

  • Olivier Riviere

    Olivier Riviere Great post Anton (I mean the link above)! Also, i am very glad to eventually find somebody who, like me, says/writes “Marketing and Sales” and not “Sales and Marketing”. May be we are not alone!


    GARY A. BOYE Charles’ suggestion that one person should lead both sales and marketing stands out as a keen concept that would dissolve the culture clutter that is being discussed here. Unfortunately, the idea has its own inherent “barrier.” That is, the huge task of finding such an individual, and worse, the qualifications of the people doing the finding.

  • Anton Buchner Agree Gary! Very hard to find a mature mind that can knowledgeably straddle sales and marketing. As you know typically they’ve come from one discipline with a very light level of knowledge of the other. However maybe we need to think outside the discipline and hire specialists in human psychology. Then have support GM’s of Sales and Marketing reporting into them. WDYT?

  • Rakesh Nair

    Rakesh Nair Trust- most important aspect , as both the teams are in together.
    Clarity- need to know what are the objectives and how it is mutually beneficial.
    Metrics- a comprehensive way to measure the outcome.


    GARY A. BOYE Anton, my background in marketing is in the specific category of direct response marketing. It draws heavily from the advertising field and those giants like Ogilvy, Caples, and (Claude) Hopkins who all agreed that advertising was “salesmanship,” a seemingly gender-specific term we don’t hear much anymore. (I am a sailor, and, fortunately, “seamanship” is what the men and women I sail with learn and take pride in.) So, in my world, sales and marketing are bridged, and one person could wear both hats. But marketing is a broad term and has enjoyed way too many definitions. If we could group them all together under an organizing principle of call-to-action, the barrier I mentioned earlier would break down somewhat.

  • Anton Buchner

    Anton Buchner I too am a DM’er from way back. Ex Ogilvy, Wunderman etc. Calls to action are important but I am also a DM’er who espouses that people need to first know about a brand/product/service, and discover some relevant value before they take action (ie: engage).
    Like your analogy of seamanship though. Everyone knows where they’re sailing to and all need to help in harmony to get the job done. 

    Rich Nigro

    Rich Nigro Anton, very provocative question, as seen by the many responses. While I don’t have a top 3, I’d say that lack of alignment comes from thinking “this is what I do and that’s what they do” – in other words, thinking in a vacuum.
    The Marketing and Sales execs must work together and jointly define what the goals are. All too often, the marketing team creates a demand-gen program that doesn’t have complete buy-in from sales and after much effort, supplies “leads”. From marketing’s perspective, these “leads” are golden and they’re shocked when the sales team fails to follow up.
    On the other side of the fence, the sales team is screaming for leads and when they’re presented with the results of the latest campaign, find that they miss the mark.
    Both of these could have been avoided if sales and marketing worked together, including setting goals for various stages of the demand-gen cycle (i.e., conversions).

    Dylan Jones

    Dylan Jones Whilst on this theme, love this video by the Velocity guys:

    Olivier Riviere

    Olivier Riviere Culture, culture and culture



3 sisters

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By |2021-06-10T04:13:43+10:00February 9th, 2016|business growth, digital, marketing, reinvention, transformation|0 Comments

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