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A Chartered Institute of Marketing 'Marketing and Sales Fusion' white paper has predicted the demise of separate marketing and sales departments within the next decade – but what of customer service?

The paper reflects on the history of marketing and sales, and considers the possible future direction of both disciplines, arguing that businesses that have integrated their sales and marketing functions have experienced significant benefits, while those retaining separate departments may be hindering their own growth by doing so. This article is copyright 2011 TheWiseMarketer.com).

The institute suggests that marketing has reached an evolutionary dead-end and that it must return to its roots in sales to continue to develop over the next decade. The paper noted an increasing separation between marketing and sales functions in most businesses, resulting in neither function giving due recognition to the role performed by the other. It seems that in many cases, struggles between the sales and marketing departments mean that the importance of customer – and therefore the bottom line – is sidelined or forgotten.

There are, the paper argues, a number of obvious benefits to be derived from integrating the marketing and sales elements of any business, not least of which is that a closer alignment between the two departments tends to drive growth business-wide. Conversely, companies retaining separate departments tend to pay a high price in terms of competitiveness. Integration certainly improves information flows, can deliver much more accurate measurements of return on investment (ROI), and allows marketing and sales to join forces and feed both specific and strategic information back to the rest of the business.

The institute is therefore calling for a psychological shift in the way businesses approach marketing and sales integration. For example, practical measures are important but they must also be accompanied by the recognition that genuine integration can only be achieve with board level buy-in. Small businesses, in which sales and marketing are often handled by the same team, were actually found to be ahead of the game in many respects, and large corporations can learn many valuable lessons from their smaller counterparts.

"We hope that this paper will provoke genuine debate. For too long the trend has been toward separating marketing and sales, and the marketing profession, in its desire to establish itself, undoubtedly contributed to this," explained David Thorp, director of research and professional development for the CIM. "We believe that, in the next decade, more and more companies will see re-integrating marketing and sales as a smart move that brings real rewards. In the past few decades, marketing has proved its worth as a discreet discipline but in the next few decades, it will need to evolve again by embracing a reunion with the sales function."

Among the key findings of the 'Marketing and Sales Fusion' paper:

  • There has been a trend toward the separation of sales and marketing functions in businesses: this results in unnecessary competition and a detrimental impact on the business overall.

  • Research demonstrates that companies with closely aligned sales and marketing departments are more competitive and more successful.

  • A conceptual shift is required at the highest level of UK business. Both sales and marketing functions must abandon their 'silo' mentalities and embrace not just cooperation but union. Big businesses could have much to learn from SMEs, where sales and marketing are often integrated.

  • Marketing evolved out of sales, and the two disciplines share many fundamental characteristics, so reuniting sales and marketing will bring benefits across the business. 

 

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