I asked a simple but big question on Monday to an audience of nearly 200 sales leaders in Scottsdale, at our Sales & Marketing Leadership Conference: What is the purpose of a business?
One great answer is from Peter Drucker, who famously said that the purpose of a business is to create a customer.
But we are no longer a manufacturing economy. We are a SERVICE economy. According to the World Bank, 76% of our GDP comes from service jobs. Salespeople are no longer the owners of information. Instead, we are all swimming in the same ocean, which is full of savvy consumers who crave better experiences even more than they crave better products.
We heard from many incredibly talented speakers and panelists at the conference who offered an exciting preview of the future, where new technologies and processes will work together so we can put the customer into the hub of our activities. What stands out most in my mind, however, is that organizations that want to win must find a way to get sales and marketing to speak with ONE voice. Ideally, sales and marketing leaders should be able to complete each other’s sentences. They need to do the following:
- Come up with a common definition of a lead.
- Make marketing accountable for measurable metrics (some companies are making marketing responsible for part of the sales team’s quota).
- Make sales accountable for working WITH marketing to get quality leads (David Heath, retired VP of Global Sales at Nike, said he quickly learned in his career that taking a marketer along on a sales call to hear the word “no” from the client’s mouth was a great lesson in believability)
- Make sure that both sales and marketing are tracking the right data and KPIs. It won’t do you good to track hundreds of KPIs. Focus only on the five or six that will drive your business.
- Turn your company Website into an inbound marketing machine.
- Maximize the efficiency of your team by bringing on people who understand technology from the ground up.
In the last two years, we have seen more major changes in sales process than in the last 20 years. And I predict that more than 15 million sales jobs will disappear over the next 18 years. At the same time, however, I believe that there will be an explosion in sales-support jobs, where sales organizations have a team of customer-facing specialists that will make it easier to create operational efficiencies and higher customer satisfaction.
That’s why sales & marketing alignment will be fundamental to the sales team of the future. During one of our panel discussions, Steve Richard, of Vorsight, said it best: Sales & marketing alignment is the traction point where you’re engaging with customers. That’s where we need to look to drive faster and better growth.