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BEST PRACTICE: Working in harmony with your sales team

Integrating sales and marketing, the issues and how to do it well, tend to loom large in the B2B arena. Traditionally B2C companies have strong brands which often sell the product on their own – think Amazon, Apple, Virgin, etc. Founders of B2B companies have tended to be technical people who have developed a good idea and then hired sales people to sell it, or sales people who have seen an opening in the market and have set up a business to exploit it. As Peter Young, commercial director at Mirror Image, says, “Sales successes are always measurable so companies are often more inclined to give the leading role (and a seat on the board) to a senior sales person.” B2B companies have therefore tended to view the marketing function as merely sales support.

Some organisations appoint business development directors to review and analyse business requirements; their broader business understanding acts as a catalyst for the closer integration of sales and marketing. If, however, the marketing function is central to the strategy of the business – as it surely is – then the traditional picture is the wrong way round.

Dr Judy Zolkiewski, senior lecturer in marketing at Manchester Business School (MBS), says, “If the company is driven by the need to satisfy their customers, then sales will be integrated into an overall marketing vision. Any other structure reflects a company which does not have the customer at heart.”