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Grant Johnson

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Sales and Marketing: Why can’t we all just get along?

Over the past 15 years helping clients wage war in the technology marketplace, we’ve come to appreciate that the first battle for marketing is often the one fought inside a company between sales and marketing. Let’s face it, the two functions are often at odds due to the he fundamental schism of one function primarily rewarded for delivering near term results, i.e. get sales this quarter, and the other function primarily rewarded for creating competitive advantage and building brand preference. It’s no wonder there’s a lot of finger pointing in the hallways and conference rooms across America. But when internal struggles consume cycles, it’s always with the collective company back to the customers and prospects vs. forming a customer-facing united front, the only winners in the fight are competitors who have figured it out. So here’s a few consideration for marketers on how to enter the battle – arms locked – with sales.

First, start every year and every quarter with joint sales and marketing management review of goals and objectives: what are the key sales goals, key customer targets, key initiatives sales needs to achieve?

Second, review all the ongoing and planned marketing activity and the how results are tracking, by activity, campaign, program, etc. This is the ideal time to discuss what’s working and what’s not, what to abandon and where to “double down.”

Third, start “drilling down” into what’s not working and why. E.g. is a particular marketing program not delivered enough leads, enough quality leads, or both? Are leads not progressing from interest to a qualified opportunity for a particular reason that can be adjusted, e.g. not the decision maker (wrong target) , no a real customer pain that needs to be solved today (not a compelling value proposition), or not currently in the market to buy (time frame). Each of these reasons suggests a different adjustment, the latter may be to find out whether the prospect is willing to engage in a cultivation program to stay in touch with the company when they have a project to fund, etc.

Finally, marketing needs to get sales to commit to a consistent activity level of follow up for the agreed upon priority campaigns. For example, if leads are scored from A through D, then perhaps sales will follow up on all A & B leads and provide marketing feedback within a week. C & D leads can be addressed either later, or if the company has some level of inside lead nurturing capability , via telesales reps and/or marketing automation software. There are many other ways to achieve sales and marketing alignment, but regardless of which approaches are adopted, you don’t have to like each other to work together, but you have to work together to win.

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A dynamic, senior-level technology executive with a proven track record building businesses on a global basis. As Chief Marketing Officer for Pegasystems in Cambridge, MA Johnson is responsible for worldwide marketing strategy and execution. He oversees corporate marketing, field marketing, industry marketing, product marketing, marketing programs, marketing communications, analyst and public relations, and global web strategy. Previously, Johnson was the Vice President of Marketing at Guidance Software (GUID) and Vice President of Marketing and served as an officer for FileNet Corp., a $400+ million enterprise software vendor acquired by IBM in 2006. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Marketing for FrontBridge, an email management vendor acquired by Microsoft. Johnson led the company’s re-naming and re-launch, built the marketing team and delivered integrated marketing programs to support significant and sustained revenue growth. He has also served as Director of Marketing for Symantec, with worldwide responsibility for the Norton brand, and as Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ethentica, an enterprise security vendor. Johnson received his bachelor of arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his master’s in business administration from Pepperdine University. He has also published several articles on best practices in high tech marketing and co-authored the book, PowerBranding™