Often companies get stuck in what comes first dilemma – business development or marketing. Business development and marketing for an organization are two sides of the same coin. They both need to work hand in hand for the winning stroke.
Let’s take a fresh look at the two functions and their roles in an organization.
Marketing: The go-to-market strategy decider. A company creates products or services to fulfil demand(s). The end consumer will know of it only once availability is communicated and how it addresses a specific need – implicit or explicit. Marketing is the process of understanding the requirement that the product or service addresses; crafting tailored messaging to articulate how the offerings address the need optimally to create a demand. The target audience decides the tools of communication that one employs.
Business Development (BD) is the team that front-ends the Customer. They bring in ideas for new products, competitor intelligence, and needs in the market that the organization may be well equipped to address with new and unique products or services. They are the face of the company.
In the early stage of the product lifecycle, they help validate the product/ service concept before the organization invests. Once ready to market, the BD team is responsible for bringing in the sales.
The two teams need to work in unison to amplify the messaging and for consumers to see the offering in the right light. It is critical for creating the personality of the offering in question- the positioning, needs it addresses, whom it’s meant for and what sets it apart from the rest.
The BD team knows the Customer better, and the marketing Team knows the messaging better. The two must come together to arrive at the winning messaging and strategy.
Being as different as chalk and cheese, how does one achieve this?
Sales & Marketing Alignment.
A shared communication system, strategy, and goals to make the marketing and sales work as a unified organization.
Once aligned, the teams can cohesively deliver high-impact marketing activities, improved sales effectiveness, and increased revenue. Some steps the organization can take in this direction includes:
Step1: Create a single customer journey. Create systems and processes to ensure a seamless and consistent experience from the Customer’s awareness stage to being a loyal advocate. Employ CRM
Step 2: Agree on a customer persona. Align on who is the end customer. In other words, create a customer profile. For best results, have the marketing and BD team work on this together. Thereafter arrive at the target market.
Step 3: Align on goals. Both teams aim to grow the company’s sales, but their functional goals and KPIs need to be defined and aligned to realize the bigger picture. Business Plans that arise post the alignment have a higher propensity to succeed.
Step 4. Strategize together. Often the BD lament is, “I know better; I am the one in front of the Customer”. Marketing lament, “I know the product positioning and what the Customer wants.” Sitting together to strategize brings all concerns to the table, resulting in a strategy with a buy-in.
Step 5. Align Roles & Processes. Each views its role in the sales process differently. Understanding each other parts and responsibilities is a must. It needs to be complemented by putting processes in place that allow for seamless communication and information between the two teams to build transparency & trust.
Step 6. Align Systems and Technology to enable both the sales and marketing teams. Depending on your business, choose what is needed. Irrespective of the requirement – tool for drip email marketing, lead management system, or account-based marketing- the approach adopted should keep both sales & marketing informed.
Support each other and flourish together.
Marketing and business development are uniquely positioned to increase revenue significantly. It is vital not to replicate actions and constantly complement each other’s efforts, making seamless communication between the two teams imperative.
While marketing and business development activities may occasionally overlap, they are likely to be more successful independently while maintaining open communication.
While most senior managers and CEOs understand the need for the two functions to work together, often, as a growing company, they find themselves challenged. It is often advisable to hire a business coach or a growth consultant to find the best solution for the organization. Not having the skin in the business, a business coach can give you an objective perspective. Their years of experience and expertise help you create processes for the long run.