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  • Writer's pictureWill O'Brien

Can Sales & Marketing ever speak the same language - Part 3 ?

Ask any CEO or CFO in a B2B Tech company if they have achieved perfect alignment in the Sales and Marketing function and you are likely to hear something like this:

1) It works ok

2) It could be better

3) It’s hopeless and we have gone through several VP’s in both Sales & Marketing and it’s still broken

4) It’s our highest area of cost

So, why is the combined overall effectivity patchy with so much money being wasted?

Already we have talked about ego / experience, measurement, customer success / references, and collaboration not consultation as 4 key barriers to progress. The original posts can be seen at

This post covers two more issues that hinder progress:

Honesty and feedback

The best way for Sales & Marketing to improve alignment is to be honest about how various campaign are working. Both teams must accept that not all campaigns are going to work as planned and face this simple truth. In 2020 marketing is more complicated than it’s ever been with numerous communications swamping the same finite group of customers.

From 2015 – 2018 I was a Sales & Marketing Director in a B2B tech firm. I received at least 25 unwanted e-mails / LinkedIn messages a day. I seldom read any of these message because as I did not have time, or they were not relevant to me or my business. Over 3 years I must have ignored over 27,000 messages. This was a complete waste of time and effort for the sales or marketing staff who prepared them. Most customers I know get the same amount of contact and ignore the vast majority of sales and marketing communications.

Sales & Marketing teams should look at which levers really work and be open to feedback from each other. Experimenting with formats and campaigns should be encouraged to make sure you pick the right approaches for your B2B market.

Where I have seen marketing fail is where campaign decision making is done in a vacuum or where the marketing budget is applied thinly across a multiple marketing supplier. This approach is akin to Spread betting, but the overall result is a mixed bag of results.

Business need to look at the cost of all this activity and focus on the only results that matter - a sales accepted lead landing in the CRM system.

From the sales viewpoint teams must realise that leads are like yoghurt and they have a shelf life! If you get a lead it should be actioned immediately and not posted into the task list 3 days out. Getting leads is hard and if a customer or prospect registers interest it needs to actioned immediately.

As they say on “Wolf of Wall Street” – “Pick up the phone”

Global versus local

Whether you like it or not marketeers frequently block sales requests from marketing because of the classic get out of jail free reason:

“We can’t do that campaign as it’s against global / corporate branding guidelines”

This is likely to trigger an understanding nod from the sales guys, the rolling of eyes, or the gun to the head gesture. Marketeers who work with sales to overcome obstacles and find a way will be thanked. Those that don’t help will be seen as unhelpful or worse. By all means marketing should from time to time explain why brand consistency matters but don’t use this as an excuse for inaction.

If sales team face stupidity or illogical barriers then try thinking outside the box, that’s what you are paid to do! As a Sales Manager and VP, I faced a handful of situations where I was told I could not do a particular customer event. In every case I did not accept this and persevered and found a way achieving the results that I knew were possible. In three cases I still had marketing involved which took some cajoling and in the other cases we kept the budget below the radar funding this as a sales expense.

As a result of pushing back the following results were achieved:

· Two sales contracts were awarded as a direct result of two customer events one for £500k and one for over £7 million.

· Two customer lead forums were created and remain as main annual marketing events to the present day. Prospects are regularly invited to both forums leading to more secured business.

· One Industry partner event was created from scratch in under 3 months attracting 350 + attendees

There is categoric proof that events conceived and driven with sales & marketing input can lead to actual business that can be linked back to a specific event. I would welcome any comments or insight you have and please like and share as you see fit.

Will O’Brien – Founder and lead author Day Five Consulting

Authentic Training Delivered

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