How well do marketing and sales know their customer?

How well do marketing and sales know their customer?

The rivalry between sales and marketing is decades old. Each side blames each other (especially in the higher ranks) for not pulling their weight, with both expecting the other to do their work for them. Rants like these are more than common:

That rivalry is common, due to the misconception that some CEOs have that having both departments bash heads is healthy for the organisation. What those CEOs are trying to achieve is rivalry which fosters competitiveness, but what they are getting is generally a game of “passing the buck”.

The most common area of friction between the two departments is lead generation, but I’m not going to get into that shit-fight right now. I’d like to draw your attention, in this post, to a less contentious, but more cost-effective and much more lucrative area of mutual interest — customer retention.

People think of loyalty as a “customer for a lifetime”, but it is much simpler than that. It’s about the next time, every time!

Getting the “first-time” customer is difficult (read: expensive). As technology improves, there’s a perceived reliance on marketing to keep engaging with customers and entice them to come back. Although marketing automation and CRMs are now commonplace for businesses of every size, I believe we still don’t know our customers as well as we should.

In large corporations, the phrase of the day is “single view of a customer”, which really means that legacy systems were developed in isolation, servicing different arms of the business.

The shift now is towards integration of data into a centralised system, or at least a variety of systems which may talk to each other (via APIs or other means). The fact that the system has an overarching view of the customer is important, but it’s not enough to have the information analysed and projected on the wall in a nice Tableau interactive data map.

Understanding the customer is more than just data collection for the sake of data collection. The first question we need to ask ourselves, both sales and marketing professionals, is “why are we doing this?”. What’s so important in customer data, that we need to collect it, analyse it, and project it on the wall?

Customer rungs

People buying from any business are climbing an invisible ladder. The ladder is only visible to the business, and this visibility is particularly visible in the accounts department… Do you understand where I’m going with this?

Source 1 – Adrian Payne (1994) Relationship Marketing.

This ladder is focused on service-providing organisations, but can be easily be adapted to other types of organisations, and also to levels of relationships salespeople have with their clients. As you can see, having a customer isn’t a goal. A customer is merely someone who only bought once from you. At the very least, you’d like to have clients, wouldn’t you?

When it comes to professional service providers, we should strive to get clients to a position of a partner or an advocate, as those are doing the selling on your behalf! Wouldn’t that be nice to have?

So now that we’ve covered the “why”, let’s explore the “how”.

Mackay 66 – A questionnaire designed to keep sales people strengthening their relationships with their customers

Market research, shopper experience data, NPS (Net Promoter Score) and customer personas are some areas where the marketing department can help. There are multiple ways to communicate with customers on every level, but to really understand and connect with customers, we still need our salespeople to collect data on a very different level.

Harvey Mackay, a sales and marketing guru has developed Mackay 66, a questionnaire which is designed to keep sales people strengthening their relationships with their customers. A great convergence point would be to have the Mackay 66 as fields in your CRM and make sure your salespeople are rewarded for accumulating that information.

The questionnaire does start with the basics (name, age, contact details), but gets a lot more personal as you go along – family names and birthdays, personal taste, dog’s name, etc… If you’re not familiar with the Mackay 66, download it here for free.

We should really include everyone who is client facing in the data collection process, and more importantly, provide them with the required access to the data collected.

Customer Service departments are usually completely disconnected from both the marketing and sales departments, which is obviously a huge mistake.

How many calls have you received recently, trying to sell you a product or a service, from a company you’re currently in dispute with? The reason for these calls is quite commonly the disconnect between the departments, where multiple people can reach the same customer or client, but don’t have access to information gathered by other departments. That includes support teams, customer service, sales, marketing and accounting/billing.

Change is optional. So is survival.

Some CEOs are already working to resolve this issue of inter-departmental disconnection, and trying to break the legacy silos within their organisation. Others aren’t as concerned about it. Breaking the silos of information and control within an organisation should be the primary concern of a good CEO. Getting your teams to work collaboratively, to benefit your clients, should be of the CEO’s top priority.

There are many tools, software packages and mechanisms to collect information about your customers. The directive has to come from the leaders of the organisation, which will change the mindset of all involved.

The better the organisation knows your customer, the better the relationship will be, and the less effort you’ll have to invest in finding your next customer.

Wouldn’t that be nice?


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