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Marketing vs. Sales Force a Problem? Teamwork Is The Solution

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DURHAM, N.C. — How does a company prevent war breaking out from sales and marketing departments - or making peace if a war has started?

That was the subject of a panel discussion as part of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development's Engage session on Sales and Marketing on Tuesday night at the Fuquay School of Business at Duke..

In a word, the problem is solved by stressing teamwork. So said Barrett Joyner, a longtime sales veteran of SAS who now is senior vice president of sales and marketing at Mi-Co.

"To use a basketball analogy, you have got to have individual talent come together if you want a winning team," said Joyner in an interview after the panel discussion. "You can't do it. You can't win with five point guards or five slow, big power forwards."

In some companies, such as Mi-Co, which is focused on wireless capture of printed data and forms, sales and marketing efforts are combined. In most organizations, they aren't with each faction competing for attention and control of all aspects of the marketing-to-sales close.

"You've got to get multidisciplinary teams involved," Joyner said. "You've got to give them reasons to communicate."

Communication - a key word.

"It's all about communication between the two groups," Joyner said during the panel. "You have to link respect and trust. You need to create a corporate culture where this is the rule.

"Remember, it's sales AND marketing. Sales AND marketing."

Among ways Joyner suggested to build more teamwork was to have teams including people from both groups assigned to deliver seminars and appear at trade shows.

Scott Place, founder of Maverick Marketing who led the panel discussion, stressed from the start: "You have to work together. You have to maintain balance."

Jayme Inman, director of marketing at Inlet Technologies, suggested that marketing people accompany sales people on calls. "Go to the customer with the sales people," she said. "The better marketing understands the customers, the better tools they can develop."

Joyner point out that for a three-year span, sales and marketing were combined at SAS where the "silos" of information are deep. "Sales is where the rubber meets the road," he said, "and marketing is where rubber meets the sky." Joyner felt the effort of merging the groups was successful in getting both sides to see the other's point of view - and the importance of each to a growing company.

"The respect for each other grew," he recalled. "We had virtually no problems between sales and marketing for the next 10 years."

Of course, a key problem to overcome is how people are compensated. Sales force people can cash in on some hefty commissions not available to the marketing side. Joyner, however, stressed that "compensation plans can't get in the way of what you are doing."

Place stressed that "sales can lead you down a path but you need the marketing, too. In Barrett's case, locking the two groups together worked."

Sticking to plan is crucial as well, each of the panelists stressed.

"Sell what you have," Joyner said. "Implement what you plan. Everybody has to understand the complete product line. At Mi-Co, it's the enterprise."

Inman cautioned against the hiding of information within a company. Joyner noted that if SAS was planning a major software upgrade, people were told so they knew what they could and could not sell.

"People have to be informed here's what you're selling now, and here's the upgrade path," he said.

Joyner also stressed that everyone must be playing off the same page. "All the communication doesn't mean you won't have an idiot out there selling on his own," Place said. Both Joyner and Place said they had fired sales people who went off on their own agenda.

Rick Smith is editor of WRAL Local Tech Wire.

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