Recently the General Manager (GM) of a firm in the distribution business admitted that the best road scholars in the world would never achieve full potential unless supported by a carefully crafted strategic marketing and sales plan. A thorny issue was the organisational structure for it had the marketing manager reporting to GM, and the sales manager reporting to the business development manager.
Sales and marketing were two silos. Marketing mostly planned branding events and activities. Sales complained that they were not benefitting from what marketing was doing. And finance thought marketing was mostly wasting their money. Time for a change.
GM decided that it was time for both marketing and sales to report to one person, the business development manager. (Of course that loss of status did not sit well with marketing.) As a first step they should jointly create a marketing and sales plan that would be the company’s roadmap for achieving their business-level objectives.
The level of cooperation and strategic planning required was not exactly what they were used to, but GM was resolute. When asked to explain why he wanted sales and marketing reporting to the same person GM gave the following five reasons:
- Marketing and sales will share the same vision and be in sync with the company’s mission.
- Finance, sales, and marketing will finally sit together to discuss how to give me a better balance sheet.
- The resulting planning exercise will focus everyone on the process for achieving the firm’s financial, sales, and marketing objectives.
- The tension between sales and marketing over product range, pricing, advertising, promotional activities and sales force activities will diminish, if not completely disappear.
- The customer sees no distinction between sales and marketing.
The process of change has just begun and results are not yet in; but do you think GM took the right decision? Or would you have done things differently? And what else would you add to GM’s reasons for having both sales and marketing reporting to the same person?
Herman D. Alvaranga is president of the Caribbean School of Sales Management.