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Sales & Marketing Collaboration: Driven by Culture or Technology?

05 May 2010

I’m publishing a series of Q&A excerpts from my interviews with Sales 2.0 leaders, which will appear in my next book.  This excerpt is the second in a series featuring David Satterwhite and Mark Hamilton, whom I highlighted last year in a post titled, “Avoiding the Blame Game Between Sales and Marketing” (Feb. 9, 2009). At the time, they were a terrific twosome at newScale, a company that offers IT service catalog and service portfolio management software solutions: David ran Sales; Mark ran Marketing.

They’ve since left newScale (David went on to run sales at Genius and is now executive vice president of sales at Yammer, and Mark is starting up a new company to bridge B2B marketing with social media), but I had the opportunity to talk to them both again about their collaboration and their views on collaboration in general.

Anneke: What strategies, processes and technologies supported your sales and marketing collaboration?

Mark: The technology was a secondary factor. You can’t solve lack of cooperation by bringing in software; it’s not a technology problem.

David: The right tools help facilitate it, but culture is more important than technology. Maybe that’s why collaboration gets ignored or dropped, because it’s not about strategy or process; it’s about culture. If you set up the right culture, everything comes from that: You get the right people, process, tools.

Anneke: Let’s say you’re working for a huge company where the culture does not foster sales and marketing collaboration. Is it possible to create a culture within your own departments that’s not the same as the corporate culture created by the CEO, and drive that alignment?

David: I think you can go part way. A liaison role needs to be created between Sales and Marketing in larger companies to help make this happen. It then becomes harder for Sales and Marketing to point fingers at each other, because it’s the same person.

Mark: You don’t have to have a company culture of collaboration. It’s great if you do, but it doesn’t preclude you from having it between Sales and Marketing. What would preclude it is having a CEO who encourages a culture of conflict. Then you can’t win. In one of my previous chief-marketing-officer roles, there was a corporate marketing function, but in each of the geographic territories the marketing function reported into Sales. When I first took over the group, the regional sales reps didn’t want anything to do with corporate marketing. We ended up setting a culture where each geography’s marketing team came up with ideas, then sold their ideas to other geographies. The German territory actually funded their program by selling and executing campaigns for the UK and other countries. We began to see collaboration between the sales-driven geographies and corporate marketing functions.

Read the first excerpt of this interview series,  “New Age Buyers:Are Your Customers Changing?” or find the full interview in the Resources section of this website.

What are your views on the importance of  culture and technology in supporting collaboration and integration between sales and marketing? Which tools – or cultural changes – have helped bring sales and marketing together in your organization?