Ryann Greve

Chief Marketing Officer

You’ve got sales: What marketers can learn from Meg Ryan about finding your sales soul mate

You’ve seen this movie before. Two smart people get off on the wrong foot. They’re clearly attracted to each other but feign disinterest. Gradually, they come to find they’re made for each other. On screen, it’s Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. On the job, it’s Marketing and Sales.

Just like your favorite romantic-comedy couple, you and your sales counterpart come from different worlds. You think differently about the business, but you’re much better together than you ever were alone.

In 2015, we know that informed and sometimes capricious customers are in the driver’s seat. And the fact is, your brand can’t thrive without a strong partnership between Marketing and Sales. So it’s time to get together already and make magic for your brand.

According to a study by Ernst & Young on what it takes for chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief sales officers (CSOs) to succeed, 70 percent of CMOs and CSOs said that “companies are most successful if sales and marketing are jointly responsible for the multichannel market approach.”  However, the CMO/CSO relationship still is “more marked by competition or passive coexistence than collaboration.”

So, how can these frenemies become the perfect couple and make customers fall in love with your brand? Here are a few storylines marketing leaders can steal from romantic comedies to make this happen:

The meet cute_You've got sales_blog post

The Meet-cute:  Whether it’s your first day on the job or your 1,000th day, do you really know your sales counterpart? Breaking down the silos between Marketing and Sales is critical for effective integration. When I was on the client side, I found these simple but meaningful gestures paid dividends in my relationship with sales:

  • Bring your teams together regularly to share what you’re working on and how you can help each other.
  • Ask if you can go out in the field to visit customers with the sales team.
  • Invite a few sales folks to attend a marketing strategy planning session with your agency.

Between your sales cohort and you, it’s lunch, it’s coffee, it’s status meetings, it’s a game of pickup basketball — whatever it takes to develop that relationship with your sales partner.

The good news? It’s never too late. If you have a passive coexistence, or even a competitive relationship with your sales cohort, get a fresh start and “meet” again so you can start working together for the common goal: growth.

The commitment phobe changes his ways_You've got sales_blog post

The Commitment-phobe Changes His Ways: The Ernst & Young study found that CSOs emphasize short-term targets and end up excluding strategy, innovation and longer-term connections. As a result, the study recommends that CSOs look beyond immediate goals and take a more strategic view.

Who better to partner with than you, their strategy-obsessed marketing partner, to share and understand the marketing strategy and how sales can integrate and help execute it?

Early in my tenure at a company, I made the naïve mistake of believing that because I presented the highlights of my marketing strategy to a roomful of salespeople, they all understood and supported it. I was dead wrong.

I quickly realized I needed one-on-one, dedicated time with my sales partner. It was some of the best time I invested at that company. He asked questions. He voiced valid concerns. We worked together on how to balance short-term realities with longer-term needs. As a result, we each gained a supportive partner and achieved our revenue goals.

You can help your commitment-shy sales partner take the long view by building lifelong customer relationships that prove most effective and boost their strategic acumen in the process.

The a-ha moment_You've got sales_blog post

The Aha Moment: The study also notes that CMOs and CSOs tend to focus on their relationship with CEOs rather than trying to extend their influence with other critical leaders. In the business world, “aha” moments, like that reserved for Meg Ryan when she realizes she belongs with Tom Hanks, come when Marketing and Sales realize their combined power to earn influence with other C-suite leaders.

Take, for example, the chief information officer (CIO). As we know, information technology holds the keys to achieve efficient internal systems and the analytical technology that enable brands to engage with, and delight, customers. Every perfect power couple needs a best friend. Make it the CIO, so you and your sales partner have the means to deliver even more “aha” insights about your customer that you need to do your job.

The happily ever after_You've got sales_blog post

The Happily Ever After: After the meet-cute, the changing of the ways and the “aha” moment, your sales partner and you live (OK, work) happily ever after. What does that look like? It’s support from across the C-suite. It’s being equipped with internal structures and technology (such as CRM) that enable a culture of customer centricity. It’s jointly embracing Big Data and turning it into effective action in the field. It’s sharing essential data that help you understand your customers better and build long-term, profitable relationships with them. It’s achieving your key performance indicators and getting raises and promotions.

So, cue the music, pull back for the long shot and ride off into the sunset with your sales partner.

Like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, you’ll see that Marketing and Sales are more alike than not. And by taking cues from Meg and Tom, as well as by shifting your business outlook just a bit, CMOs may find their professional soul mate in their sales counterparts. And just like in the romantic comedy cliché, they were right in front of you the whole time, waiting for a little magic to come their way.

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