Sitting in a swanky hotel lobby, a marketing consultant waits for a sales professional to arrive for their meeting. The two professionals are actually old friends who have been looking forward to reconnecting. They typically start by arguing whether the meeting’ purpose is networking or accountability. Regardless, the real focus is sharing individual business challenges, exchanging high performance strategies, and retelling old jokes. Once the sales guy arrives, he immediately gripes about his unreasonable goals. A debate starts regarding strategy versus execution, leading to the classic question whether the best marketing solutions maximize sales results. Or, do marketing and sales serve different masters?
The marketing pro calmly asks about friction between sales’ and marketing’s input in determining the targets. Too often, sales targets are missed because information driving projections is inconsistent with activities that salespeople actually perform. When marketing departments deploy strategies requiring interacting with the broad marketplace in ways that conflict with sales professionals’ ability to engage prospects and customers, poor results are inevitable. Coordinating practices where sales brings back customer intelligence to integrate into marketing’s analysis, leads to understanding customer demands better. Consequently, better analysis of attractive target markets’ trends results in sustainable sales advantages.
This advantage only comes to fruition when tactics and strategies align among the sales and marketing functions. Replicating success with specific solutions sustain sales growth for a time. Eventually, communicating new applications for established products and service are necessary to satisfy dynamic customers’ evolving demands. What retailer does not want to introduce broader, faster, personalized selections accompanied by quicker delivery to their target market? When current and future customer desires align, as marketing intelligence and sales execution cooperate, epic results happen! Effective internal communication quickly executing on anecdotal evidence and strategic analysis wins every time.
Unfortunately, striving for sustainable advantages often results in incentives and commissions rewarding common results from routine activities. The trap where leaders stumble is paying sales people for routine results that they regularly deliver. Clearly compensation is important. Business professionals tend to like money: everyone loves the color and it always fits. However, at some high performance level better rewards evolve. Recognition, opportunities, self-fulfillment begin to enter the equation. Just like the business wants to grow in new and fascinating ways, so do the professionals who ignite that growth.
As business success increases, expanding incentives becomes more important. Opportunities to grow, influence, and control emerge as priorities to key contributors. Rewarding accordingly becomes a necessity. Regardless whether the reward is financial, experiential, or status-based, the value needs to be communicated in a timely and personally desirable fashion. As business environments evolve more quickly than ever, recognition must match the pace, or else competitors will match it. For business leaders to perpetuate contributor’s success, incentives must be clear, attainable and meaningful. Culture determines the specifics. Effective leaders deliver on the explicit expectation.
Returning to the initial meeting, the two professionals never do agree on whether the purpose is networking or accountability. They do agree that: “Efforts are applauded. Results are rewarded.”. Clearly articulating what constitutes outstanding results is essential for establishing proper alignment and subsequently incentives. However, before effectively distributing rewards, expectations must be clearly and fairly established. Communication is a first, yet essential step toward alignment. Ultimately, success criteria must be measurable and identifiable to structure effective incentives. Getting business results represents a timeless aspiration that unites marketing strategies and sales tactics. Ultimately executing internal coordination and trust results in organizational value, which is the primary purpose.
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC