Is marketing’s role JUST to provide leads & cook pies?

Written by McCann Helsinki
March 9, 2021

Is marketing’s role JUST to provide leads & cook pies?

We work mainly with marketing experts… correction, we WORKED mainly with marketing experts – because lately, we try to bring in the sales & commercial responsible to almost everything we do together with the marketing team. 

“They don’t understand what we do in marketing”

A lot of our cases usually start with designing a marketing or digital strategy for our clients, and quite fast (usually already in the first meeting) we hear this sentence far too often – “no, kun myynnin tiimi ei oikeastaan ymmärrä, mitä me tehdään markkinoinnissa” (Well, the sales team doesn’t really understand what we do in marketing).
And this seems to be, unfortunately, a bigger issue than one would expect or acknowledge. I say “acknowledge” because we do also have a lot of conversations that start with “well, we have a great relationship with sales, we meet bi-weekly with them…”, but after asking a couple of questions, we come back to the “well, they don’t understand what we do in marketing”.

And next thing you know, we are asked (officially) to design a digital strategy or marketing plan BUT with a back idea of helping align sales & marketing’s actions – and more importantly, helping the marketing team be seen as a valuable member of the sales and commercial development.

Marketing and sales, a one hybrid unit?

Now, needless to say, it is fundamentally important for any organization to have an aligned marketing & sales team. Actually, in today’s day and age I’d say that marketing & sales shouldn’t be two different units – but a hybrid unit aka SaleRketing (or MarketAles), which works together in achieving KPI’s towards the end business goals – whether they are commercial goals (sales), branding goals (top of mind & awareness) or strategic goals (market leader).

I dare to claim that the above scenario happens because of 3 big reasons: 1. the industry the company is in, 2. the business maturity of a company, and 3. and most importantly, the lack of transparency in targets between sales & marketing.

  1. Industry: In the most “black & white” sense, companies are either sales-driven or marketing-driven. Hence either sales is king, or branding is king. To make it even more “black & white” one can say that B2C is “marketing-driven” and B2B is “sales-driven”. All you have to do is check out the management to understand what I mean – B2B will have 8 sales managers in different areas + 8 business developers – but only 1 person who does marketing, PR, communications and bakes pies for the company Christmas party. On the other hand, B2C companies will have a CMO, CXO, 6 Brand Directors, Digital Marketing Managers – but only 1 person whose main task is to talk to the “B2B” side of the business, like buying drinks once per year to the main suppliers or retailers. When you have a setup where one unit is “king”, you get an unequal balance of resources, value & trust – and naturally, the “king” rarely wants to give away or even share his crown. The above scenarios are black and white, but more or less true, especially for companies who haven’t managed to mature fast enough to understand this struggle for the balance of power division.  
  1. Maturity: In today’s complex world, an organization needs to manage and juggle everything from data to digital tools to growing customer expectations. Some companies realized this long ago, and gradually started evolving, as well as “maturing” their business to meet the demands of this world. They’ve managed to align their internal operations to be data-driven & adapted the digital tools that they need, to understand their customers’ expectations as well as, manage their customers’ experience. Furthermore, they’ve understood that they cannot have a struggle of powers internally, where one unit is “king”, but that every single member of the company needs to be aligned and understand the complexity. What the most mature companies have managed to achieve, is to utilize data, digital tools & customer understanding to bring in transparency amongst all business units, and align their goals towards a bigger goal. 
  1. Transparency: This for me is the key problem – no matter what industry the company is in, or how mature they are with the utilization of data & digitization – if the marketing & sales teams are not transparent enough for each one to understand the role of the other, have common targets & believe in the value of the other unit – they are bound to fail sooner or later. And as mentioned above, the funniest story is when you ask either sales or marketing, “do you have transparency” and they say “Of course, we meet every week to discuss things”…and after asking 5 or 6 more questions the story turns to “Well actually, we aren’t aligned”… Transparency doesn’t mean that you talk – it means that you have clear KPI’s for every single action you take (whether it’s digital, marketing, brand, or sales action), everyone knows what these KPI’s are and understand how the actions affect them and most importantly they understand how the individual KPI’s must be achieved together as they are directly linked to bigger business goals. Now why this is harder to achieve than it sounds is – again to be black and white – in the way sales & marketing have had targets. Sales has always had very “numerical” targets, which in the simplest sense boil down to “How much sales can you generate”. If you’re a bit more experienced salesperson you can expand that target into smaller KPIs across your sales funnel (you need to call X people, to get X meetings, to get X RFP’s so that you can close X offers and reach your sales goals). Vice versa, marketing teams have rarely had to deal with direct targets, but instead with more “vague” goals such as – “we need to have a website”“We need to be top of mind in the market”“We need to have sales material”“we need to have a high NPS score” etc. Even if the marketing unit is experienced enough to have concrete KPI’s and can measure their actions, they very rarely are directly linked to the sales targets or even sales funnel KPI’s. Which leads to sentence I started with “no, kun myynnin tiimi ei oikeastaan ymmärrä, mitä me tehdään markkinoinnissa”. 

The journey has begun!

I’ll end with a positive note, as I started this blog with the words “we WORKED mainly with marketing experts”. Why this is a positive thing is because it shows that a lot of companies have acknowledged the above and want to change it. They just don’t necessarily know how – it’s easy to say “sales & marketing don’t work together” – but it’s hard to change that overnight. 

What’s even more positive is that we in McCann see the progress a lot of our customers are doing through a “bulletproof” process, which as mentioned is based on creating their marketing strategies and plans – but in essence, what it also does is help companies align their sales & marketing actions + targets.  

This process is based on helping them understand their customers’ journeys, and manage them through data, insights & creative marketing actions. 

Come find out how. 🙂

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