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Marketing and Sales Integration – An Expert’s Advice

Sam Bailey works at Miele as regional sales director for Northern Europe. This role is his latest in a substantial career involving both B2B and B2C sales and marketing, both in-house and agency. You could say Sam has seen the world of B2B from all sides. So, we were keen to interview him to discuss ways in which sales and marketing can be better integrated and what can be achieved as a result.  

Thanks for talking to us Sam; could you first tell us about your B2B career at Miele?

I originally worked in Miele’s consumer marketing team, then after a six-year commercial stint at Dyson, I returned to lead the GB commercial operation. Now, since the business was reorganised to be more customer centric, I’m a regional sales director looking after ten markets across North-West Europe for the HCS (HoReCa, Care and Self Service) customer segment. 

How has it been stepping into a pan-European sales role? 

I officially started in this position on 1st April 2020, just as the pandemic was picking up pace, so I’m currently responsible for regions which I’ve never even visited! Fortunately, Miele has a great employee culture which really helps to build interpersonal relationships within the team. What I love about the role is the opportunity to shape the sales and marketing approach for my sectors and pooling all the different strengths and best practice across the region.  

B2B and B2B Sales and Marketing: Which is more challenging?  

Having seen both sides, I believe that B2B is more challenging, as we must sell to an entire set of decision makers over a long and complex sales cycle, as opposed to selling to individuals with the power to make quick purchase decisions. Consumer is much more black and white, while in B2B there are lots of shades of grey!  B2B requires us to change our approach based on each decision maker, with many people in the business having a say in the purchase. Oh, and despite this complexity, B2B marketing budgets are invariably smaller – so innovation and efficiency are key!  

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Is it possible to have truly integrated marketing and sales?

I think it is possible, but it takes complete commitment from both teams. Having worked on both sides in my career, it regularly relies on the leadership of both departments communicating well and presenting a united front in order to avoid potentially toxic rivalries between the sales and marketing teams.  

Another vital component of successful integration is setting shared objectives and incentives. Not only bonus schemes, but also making sure sales are responsible for helping deliver some marketing goals and vice versa. It’s not easy to achieve but with complete commitment it is absolutely possible. 

There’s a lot of talk these days about marketing qualified vs sales qualified leads. Do you think making these distinctions is helpful? 

It’s not a concept I like; everybody should be working from the same sheet in terms of what a lead actually is. It isn’t healthy if sales need to validate each and every lead passed to them before it is deemed ‘sales qualified.’ A lead is a lead, and of course the level of qualification will change through the B2B marketing and sales journey. However, I think badging leads as marketing owned or sales owned creates more division than clarity. 

How do you work with your B2B marketing equivalent to ensure consistent integration?

Fortunately, we’ve both stood in each other’s shoes, so we understand what it’s like to work in both the sales camp and the marketing camp. We make sure to communicate very clearly on the priorities for marketing and sales: at Miele these include maintaining a strong digital presence and continued sector-based brand investment. It’s all about clear communication and shared goals.  

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Do you think there’s visible improvement in relationships between marketing and sales teams?

15 to 20 years ago, the teams would’ve rarely been interested in learning about the other’s world, and I do believe this has changed. Marketing has become far more commercially minded, in fact being renamed the ‘commercial’ function in some organisations. In our industry, product managers work well with sales in terms of profit margins and budgeting, which is something I didn’t see in years gone by.  

Where do you think the weaknesses are in marketing and sales integration?

There is often a sense that sales takes full ownership of a prospect relationship as soon as they begin interactions. In B2B, where sales cycles are slow and complex, even if sales are taking the lead, ownership of the prospect should be shared with marketing. Marketing can still add huge value in helping to nurture the prospect and keep the sales process moving in the right direction, through campaigns, content marketing and events.  

What one piece of advice would you give to anybody struggling with sales and marketing integration?

It all depends on leadership. You need to look at whether sales and marketing are collaborating effectively with the shared goal of continuous improvement. It will always be tough dealing with teams who just don’t get along with one another, but the sales and marketing leaders need to be 100 percent committed to a transparent relationship.  

Thanks for your time Sam! 

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