The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digitalization of communication and customer-centricity. Marketing typically owns digital communication. That makes it more important than ever that marketing and sales closely collaborate. Still, the two departments rarely get along well. Reasons can be found on grown company structures. Responsibilities between marketing and sales are blurry.
Marketing is not measured by output KPIs that are clearly linked to revenue. Typical B2B sales tend to be old-fashioned and neglect digital communication. This might be an overstatement. However, back in 2006, Kotler stated in "Ending the War between Sales and Marketing":
“All too often, organizations find that they have a marketing function inside Sales, and a sales function inside Marketing.”
(Kotler, Rackham & Krishnaswamy, 2006)
Having this in mind, 4 relationship types between marketing and sales can be defined:
The relationship between the two departments is undefined. Both departments have grown independently and are not actively managed. They follow their own targets, and they act without knowing much about what the other discipline does.
The defined relationship is characterized by defined rules to avoid disputes. Each department has clear boundaries and responsibilities. The two groups have a basic understanding of tasks important for both. To some extent, they use the same language, such as “how to define a lead”.
Marketing and sales are aligned and have clear responsibilities. However, rules and processes are flexible and are built on mutual understanding. The two departments aim for the same goal and respect each other’s competence. Marketers work with sales on important accounts and/or opportunities.
In a fully integrated setting, the boundaries between the two disciplines become blurry once again, however, in a positive, beneficial way. Processes and used language are shared to commit to a common goal fully. One cannot exist without the other. Marketing and sales are no longer strictly separated but benefit from each other’s core competencies.
Lead Management holds an important role in evolving from an undefined an integrated marketing-sales structure. A common goal of the sometimes blurry interface is leads and how to handle them. This basic principle is further incorporated into the Lead Management Maturity Model (LMM-Model)