by: John Caddell
The most recent Harvard Business Review features the above article by Philip Kotler et al on the eternal conflict between sales and marketing, and how it can be resolved. Rather than rehashing the article, which is well worth reading in full, I wanted to lay out my perspective on this issue.
Having worked on both sides of the fence, I've observed the following:
- Salespeople think marketing wastes money and doesn't really understand the customers for their products and the customers' needs.
- Marketing people think salespeople are untrustworthy, won't follow direction and will sell anything they can, whether or not it can be built or delivered.
And I've observed this as well:
- Salespeople desperately want great products to sell, and want great communication/promotion/etc. to help make selling easier.
- Marketing people desperately want a great sales force to make their visions for conquering a market become reality.
So, therein are seeds both for discord and for cooperation. I've worked a lot in the new product development process, especially around B2B products with complex service characteristics (such as hosted solutions). In that situation, a strong collaboration between sales and marketing is essential for success.
A new product requires lots of feedback from the market, while it's being developed, in order to closely fit the customers' needs. Sales also needs lots of information about the product so they can talk intelligently about its capabilities and get usable feedback to product marketing.
A team approach has worked best for me, with sales, marketing, service and development forming a product team that has the following roles:
Sales works to gather feedback from prospective customers, tests ideas that marketing's research has come up with, and provides input as to what features/architectures/etc. can best be sold in the marketplace. And perhaps most importantly, they bring one or several first customers through the sales process so the product can be sold and installed as a reference for future sales.
Marketing takes the sales feedback from prospective customers along with data about broader market needs and creates and maintains a roadmap for the product.
Development takes requirements from marketing and sales, recommends suitable architectures, provides feedback as to features that are more or less difficult to create, and ultimately builds and tests the product so that it performs to specifications.
Service Management creates service requirements from sales' and marketing's input and ensures that those service attributes are built into the product or the service wrapping around the product, as appropriate.
In the best situation, this team works as a seamless group, under a single executive, to create and incubate the product, until such time as it is ready for a broader market rollout.
And who on this team is responsible for product management? All of them together.