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How Marketing Powers Sales

Princewill Omorogiuwa, Founder of Simon Page Business School and CEO of 3rd Floor Digital Marketing, talks about how Marketing and Sales can work together. He spoke with Ofuma Agali.

 

With lots of innovation in marketing, many organisations still suffer poor or inadequate sales. Why is this so?

This is an interesting question. There are many reasons why sales of an organisation may be poor. However, the main culprit is one of alignment between what the organisation delivers to the marketplace in products or services and what the market requires. Sadly, if your offering does not meet the needs of the market, no amount of innovation in marketing will help.

How really should marketing and sales work? Which should lead the other?

I was asked this at a conference many years ago in the guise of what the role of marketing has within the organisation if it is not sales. I argued then that marketing keeps the organisation relevant to the environment. In an ideal situation, they work well together. Sales, through their interface with the customer, bring back intelligence from the marketplace. This could be about competitor offerings or even expressed needs of the customer. Marketing researches this further, develops solutions and configures the offerings so that they can meet the needs of the customer. If this is done properly, this makes the work of sales less tedious. It is also important to note the role of marketing in deploying brand communications that also helps in encouraging sales through awareness and attitude change.

 

Some business leaders still look at marketing as a support, rather than strategic function. Why do you think this is happening?

At a fundamental level, they are illiterate about marketing. Businesses are about profits. Customers generate revenues than can lead to profits. These must be protected over the long term. Marketing ensures that long-term view. So it is really disingenuous for anyone to perceive marketing as support. 

 

Assuming the sales team has the right configuration, how should marketing power the team to win?

This is a good question and this goes back to the marketing principles. Marketing needs to ensure the marketing mix elements across all 7P’s (product, price, promotion, place, people, process and physical evidence) are in harmony. That’s all the sales team needs. Products that solves customer problems, prices at a level they can bear, products readily available and with the right kind of messages that can motivate action. All of these must work in sync with each other.

 

Assuming the sales team has the wrong configuration, how should marketing intervene?

This will depend on how the organisation is configured. In many large corporate organisations, Sales Directors are at the same level as Marketing Directors. In such a situation there is not much the marketing person can do. However, if marketing does have the authority to make changes, then they need to decide what the best configuration ought to be. This could be along product lines, customer lines or a mixture of both.

 

Shouldn’t the Sales and Marketing Directors be able to collaborate at that level?

Yes in an ideal situation, but the Sales Director manages the sales team. Marketing cannot tell him or her what to do. They are peers. You are telling him or her how to do the job. Possible but not easy. It may boil down to who has more gravitas.

 

Aligning marketing and sales have always been a big issue for businesses. How can businesses get it right in this respect?

There is a need for clarity, at the strategic level, where the responsibility for the customer lies. I have never been in favour of structures where the leadership for championing customer needs is not clearly defined. But at the end of the day businesses must find managers who put the customers first and not their egos or their fiefs. Once they can get past that complex and work for the good of the customer and against competition, they will have no issues. So my advice will be to ensure that you look beyond CVs and resumes and interrogate people’s deeper passions to solve customer problems and elevate the organisation.

Published in the Business Eye’s print version, April 2016 edition.

 

 

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