sales and marketing to talk to each other may feel like torture, but it
has never been more critical – especially for the more than 5 million
mid-market industrial and B2B companies in the U.S.
The digital age and a host of technology developments have exposed four major flaws in traditional B2B marketing practices:
• Lack of coordination between brand, sales/marketing and digital activities
• Dedication to sales at the expense of marketing
• The slowness of firms to focus their online voice
• Failure to recognize that the internet has changed the sales dynamic
companies are struggling to leverage the internet to sell and grow.
Unlike consumer product companies, they’ve been slow off the mark in the
digital race due a traditional but flawed rationale that branding and
digital communications can’t really help their ‘relationship’ style of
What’s become glaringly obvious is that three core
marketing functions – brand, sales/marketing and digital communications –
don’t behave as if they have anything in common. Worse, they don’t work
together to build equity, share of mind, customer loyalty, or sales for
The open secret always was that sales and
marketing were never really very integrated. In some firms, they didn’t
even like or talk to each other. Not to mention that in many B2B firms,
‘sales and marketing’ actually means ‘sales.’
But because the
internet has made company ‘walls’ ever more transparent, there are few
secrets. Employees complain, whistle blowers whistle, bloggers gossip,
e-mails get forwarded, the news media investigates, and your customers
actually know all about you – your product benefits and even your prices
– before you ever hit their door. So what are you actually selling?
a company’s brand, its sales force, and its digital activity aren’t in
lockstep, customers notice. At best, customers scratch their heads at
this lack of coordination; at worst and more commonly, firms are losing
credibility, customer satisfaction and opportunity because they can’t
get their act together.
In 2014, Forbes Insights published,
Breaking Down Marketing Silos: The Key to Consistently Achieving
Customer Satisfaction and Improving Your Bottom Line.
Forbes noted that the challenges with marketing silos mean:
1. Each silo may have its own brand vision, creating a disjointed experience and message for the customer.
2. Team incentives may motivate some team members to exploit and damage the brand in order to boost short-term sales.
3. Poorly integrated teams suffer from inadequate cooperation.
4. Silo interests stand in the way of programs that require scaling.
5. Key growth areas such as digital are not scaled because they are dispersed across silos.
6. Success in one silo is leveraged slowly into others, or not at all.
And not listed, but in the mix: Inconsistent customer experience across divisions and functions.
good news is that with the right market data, the marketing function is
uniquely positioned to lead the charge for integration in the name of
better service to the customer. Forbes pointed out why marketing is
primed for a leadership role in integration:
1. Marketing brings an outside point of view.
2. Marketing can articulate the unique truth of the company and what differentiates it within the marketplace.
Marketing can communicate the product and value-why products are
relevant to customers in different ways, identifying segmentation in the
4. Marketing creates compelling stories for rallying employees and making an emotional connection with customers.
Marketing is a strategic seat at the table; there is no other
department that can see such a company panorama and bring those
To overcome the silo issue, the report concludes by offering best practices for CMO’s:
1. Replace competition and isolation among silos with communication and cooperation.
2. Consolidate when necessary.
Act as a facilitator, establishing frameworks, encouraging
collaboration through teams and knowledge hubs, and upgrading marketing
4. Think like a consultant: create company-wide insights, train marketing talent and participate in strategy development.
Secure access to the C-suite. Teradata found that marketers with
executive responsibilities are almost twice as likely as others to
believe that there are no barriers to interdepartmental integration.
Force integration. In Teradata’s study, marketers say the best way for
marketing to become more intertwined with other functions is to set up
For some firms, these are lofty marketing
ideals. But there are practical steps smaller companies can take to
force different thinking and action. But there are practical steps
smaller companies can take to encourage different thinking and action.
One is to use research and market data strategically – know the customer
better than anyone else. A second step is to stop planning functionally
and start planning via a ‘communications & experience canvass.’
What does the customer need to feel, see and hear? How do we ‘behave the
brand?’ Who is responsible for delivering that? What are the methods
In short, turn the silos sideways. With this framework, suddenly a lot more people see and serve their responsibility to serve the customer – including functions such as accounting, help desk, order fulfillment and e-commerce managers, and the c-suite.