The Olympics are here and I love it. I really do. I root for those representing my country and admire all those that have dedicated so much of their life to something specifically great. Each night, we see moments of triumph and camaraderie. It’s great!
Why do I mention this on a business-related blog? It’s the camaraderie that is often missing between business units. Specifically, this is a recurring issue between corporate functions like sales and marketing.
Poor working relationships among those that should be motivated to work together make me think about Rufus Miles, an American government administrator, and author. He is the namesake of the aphorism Miles’ Law:
“Where you stand depends on where you sit”
Simply, this statement reflects on the unique perspective that we have based on our perspective. A bit more deeply, it’s clear that our allegiance and loyalty are also influenced by where we sit. As an American administrator, Miles noticed this between government agencies but the same is true across corporate functions.
Dysfunctional Relations across Sales and Marketing
Camaraderie suggests a trusting and collaborative working relationship. If you are in sales, how much do you trust and collaborate with marketing (and vice versa)? Hopefully, the answer is something constructive. Commonly, it’s not.
Ideally, the sales and marketing camaraderie serves customers. Unfortunately, this rarely occurs. Many sales and marketing functions have a less productive relationship where they operate more functionally-centric rather than buyer-centric positions. This is Miles’ Law.
Undoubtedly, sales and marketing contribute uniquely and supplementally to help buyers in their journey. To sustain commercial success, these functions must be well orchestrated. They must trust each other with constructive feedback on what’s working and what’s not. Instead, communications degrade to finger-pointing. Marketing doesn’t give sellers enough quality leads. Sales don’t take the right action during a campaign. The blame game doesn’t accelerate revenue.
Certainly, sellers should be excited to be in sales. Marketers should be excited to be in marketing. But, what if…. What if these resources got more excited to work as a team on something specific like cross-selling a new product to existing customers. What if the team was aligned and measured to jointly acquire new customers in a new market or vertical. Special things can happen.
Commercial Convergence or (at least) Re-alignment
Commercial leaders must overcome the friction and misalignment caused by siloed, customer-facing functions. Buyers simply don’t care about your functional design. Instead, they are focused on completing purchases, so leaders must explore alternatives. Many organizations recognize these challenges and are starting to shift away from the traditional functional alignment. However, merely naming a chief commercial officer or chief revenue officer will not entirely reduce the cross-functional friction or improve revenue generation. It requires more.
The boldest action is to tear down the siloes between sales and marketing to build something that is truly buyer-centric. Note, this can additionally include related functions like customer success, service, etc. The more pragmatic option is to better align and orchestrate commercial resources to key sales motions – perhaps better said is to orient to key buying motions, including new buys, expansion buys or re-buys.
Ultimately, something must be done. The most successful commercial leaders are taking deliberate action to align commercial resources – across sales and marketing as well as digital and in-person– and connect them to buyers. The unified theme is buyer-centricity above all else. That’s where loyalties must lie.
The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.