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Home arrow Marketing arrow Value-ology: Aligning sales and marketing to shape and deliver profitable customer value propositions
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Sales 'Buy-in' of Marketing Strategies

Another topic that the academic literature explores is the need for the sales team to be brought into marketing strategies. We already saw what happened to Jane, the Financial Services Marketing Leader, who failed to get sales buy- in to her campaigns, so why is this buy-in important?

Salespeople are boundary spanners, and play a crucial role in ensuring that firms implement their strategies appropriately (Malshe and Sohi 2009).

At times distrust and prejudices at the interface make it difficult for each function to appreciate the other’s role in the strategic process (Homburg et al. 2008). Where marketing does not involve sales in strategy development they may view the initiatives as ineffective or irrelevant (Kotler et al. 2006). This will mean the sales function does not buy into or support the initiatives proposed (Yandle and Blythe 2000).

Malshe and Sohi (2009) found that getting sales buy-in consisted of four key components; these are summarised in Fig. 9.1.

Components of sales buy-in (Adapted from Malshe and Sohi (2009))

Fig. 9.1 Components of sales buy-in (Adapted from Malshe and Sohi (2009))

The notion of ‘buy-in’ integrates some of the earlier themes into the four stages proposed by Malshe and Sohi. Cespedes (2014) makes a compelling case for the need to align strategy and sales. The challenge is engaging salespeople, ‘where the rubber hits the road’, with strategists, ‘where the rubber meets the sky’.

From what we can see from research results, it appears that ‘buy-in’ is much more difficult to achieve in practice. As an ex-Managing Director at BT used to say, ‘It sounds simple, but it ain’t easy.’ How do you get alignment? Which shared processes need to be developed? How do you effectively share information? These are all questions that practitioners seem to be wrestling with. Crucially, the customer does not seem to be getting a coherent story from marketing and sales.

The good news is that this chapter is about giving you some answers to these alignment questions. After we have looked at our own research we will present a framework, with some helpful templates, to help you create a path towards top-quality alignment.

 
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