The sales/marketing conundrum: Four drastically different departmental structures
Alex Clarke examines the pros and cons of various structural options and asks what happens in organisations where marketing sits directly within the sales department
In this feature, we talk to a marketer who sits directly in sales; examine a company where sales and marketing are treated as one function; weigh up the pros and cons of the traditional sales/marketing structure; and interview a marketer who has to deal with both an internal and external sales team.
A marketers who sits in sales
Louis Fernandes, (former) director, demand generation, UKI, HPE, has a rather unique perspective, stemming from the fact that he sits within the sales department and earns commission like his colleagues in sales
In the previous model of our organisation I was measured in the same way as my sales colleagues… which means there’s immediately a sense of credibility around what I’m trying to achieve. It also means that the metrics are tied back to business performance (revenue and margin), as opposed to more esoteric marketing metrics such as, say, page impressions, click-throughs or whitepaper downloads.
All I’m interested in… is sales-qualified pipeline, closed revenue and engagement margin, so I have skin in the same game as my front-line sales colleagues. Additionally, the demand generation campaigns that my team and I deliver are 100% relevant to the sales guys who are going to pursue the opportunities that we create – and I do mean opportunities, not leads; that’s an important distinction.
If someone were to say my position was unusual… I’d urge them to try it and let me know how they’re getting on after six months. Seriously, sitting within sales changes the way you work and the way you approach the campaign construction and execution. I’d also ask anyone who thought that it was strange when the last time was they went on a sales call and sat with a customer as part of a sales pursuit.
If you’re not walking in your sales teams’ shoes… you don’t know what they’re up against. Equally, if you’re not at the biting end of customer engagement from time to time, you really don’t know what’s going through the customer’s mind during the buying and purchase decision-making process.
I get paid based on the same metrics… as my sales colleagues, as well as the same incentive levels. It focuses one’s mind.
We’ve run a number of campaigns over the past 12 months… where the level of sales-qualified pipeline has been far greater than other marketing-only led campaigns. The level of customer engagement has been much higher in the organisations that we’ve targeted (really c and c-1 levels), and the deal velocity through the pipeline has been markedly different – generally in the region of two times that of ‘traditional’ marketing campaign leads.
I’m very careful not to attach tags like marketing… to what it is that we do. I only ever talk about demand generation or sales campaigns. While that sounds like semantics, language is important. What the team and I are doing is perceived to be different to what marketing does, and as such, is seen to be owned by sales.
Ownership is massively important… because, as a sales executive, you suddenly feel like it’s your initiative – a feeling that we’ve been at pains to try and cultivate through this process. It engenders that ‘skin-in-the-game’ feeling, which in turn creates internal engagement, helps drive campaign success, and gives what we do an even footing alongside the front-line sales guys.
Relates to Louis’ role within HPE Enterprise Services, pre-divestiture
How to hack marketing, by sitting and working in sales. Louis Fernandes. Director, Demand Generation, UKI & MEMA, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Sales and marketing as one
Straddling the divide between marketing and sales – and treating it as a single entity – is the way forward, argues Catherine Howard, UK&I marketing director, Atos
Sales and marketing is one function… at Atos UK&I. As marketing director, I’m a main stakeholder on our sales board, reporting to our senior VP for sales and marketing. By operating as one function, there isn’t a sales marketing divide, which is really beneficial. We operate as one team, our targets and metrics are aligned, and our successes are shared.
A huge benefit… of this structure is that there’s a real team culture built around driving growth for the organisation, with everyone clear about how they contribute, and able to see their achievements. The second benefit is that marketing is a key part of the organisation and is at the heart of delivering to all stages of the sales cycle, from driving awareness through to demand generation, supporting existing pipeline and ultimately enabling closed sales. The third is the ability to be creative. What I mean by this is that by having a close sales and marketing relationship, you can run joint workshops to generate new ideas and take innovations forward together. It’s fantastic to be a part of a function that’s really adding business value to the organisation.
We all attend sales meetings every day… yet it’s not a case of having formal meetings, but rather joint sessions that are adding value. In a bidding situation, everyone sits together throughout the day, with marketing a key part of client meetings as well as internal meetings. This way there’s continuous two-way communication.
Sales would describe marketing’s role as… building presence with clients and in the market, bringing new opportunities through working with sales, and delivering brave new creative. In effect, marketing supports sales across the whole cycle.
A team of two
Lane Clark & Peacock
With an inhouse team that only comprises two full-time salespeople, Kate Sinclair, director of business development and marketing, Lane Clark & Peacock, reflects on the challenges associated with external sales teams
We operate as one team… with two heads of department: myself looking after the marketing team and my colleague Charlie heading up the sales and sales support team, which comprises two full-time salespeople. However, as our business is a partnership we also have another 100 or so senior people directly responsible for selling and developing client relationships, so we all work closely with them to deliver results.
Working with such a large group of people responsible for selling is a huge challenge… as it means all their needs have to be met. Allocating marketing resources appropriately to the level of opportunity that exists (without discouraging people who are selling in more niche areas) is a continual balancing act. It can also be difficult to find enough opportunities for marketers to get in front of clients directly in order to really understand them.
A great example of success was our recent cross-selling campaign… which was essentially an internal marketing campaign designed to equip our partners and other colleagues with the skills and support they needed to increase cross-selling across the firm. Because we’re an integrated team, we all worked together on the comms, skills training, publicity, digital tools and general cheerleading, and it resulted in our best quarter ever for this type of new business.
Sales would describe marketing’s role as… building the firms’ reputation and brand, supporting an effective sales process, and supporting go-to-market strategies for new products and services. We’re working on ways to deliver leads in a more measurable way, and are developing our lead generation strategy hand-in-hand with our partners and sales team to ensure we deliver the quality of leads that they require.
The traditional approach
The Pedowitz Group
The Pedowitz Group houses a more conventional sales/marketing structure. CMO and VP marketing strategy Kevin Joyce discusses the merits and drawbacks
We’re a data-driven organisation… therefore we’re tightly aligned with sales and are combined into one in terms of data and systems management, reporting, and analytics.
Sometimes we can be too sales-driven… which makes it hard to stay focused on the important, long-term initiatives for marketing. Working in a company where there are many brilliant marketing people, including the founders, has its challenges because everyone has an opinion and they don’t always align!
Our VP of sales was once a VP of marketing… and hence understands the balancing act needed between the two functions. The way to overcome this challenge is to firstly produce tangible revenue results from marketing initiatives and then meet or beat marketing-sourced and -influenced revenue goals. After that, all other sins will be forgiven.
Sales came to marketing recently to create an email campaign… that targeted our partners with some very specific offers. We were sceptical at first, but worked closely with sales to create something that satisfied both parties, and it turned out to be a very successful programme. It proved that marketing is well served by listening to the instincts of those in sales. They're our customers too.
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