Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Sales and marketing folks need to collaborate, not compete. Vendors should focus not only on aligning their own teams but also on helping partners sell and market solutions effectively.

By Diana L. Mirakaj

In most companies, the finance, IT, and human resources departments seem to get along well. So what makes the sales-marketing relationship such a contentious one?

It’s easy to blame an epic power struggle for the well documented sales-marketing battle that plays out in so many organizations. Marketing is the analytical brain child, while sales is run by revenue and relationships. Sales can see only as far as the dashboard, while marketing is staring out past the horizon. Marketing is strategic; sales is tactical.

Those polarities are more about perceptions than realities.

The fact of the matter is that sales and marketing need to work together, not in opposition. For channel partners, this can be especially difficult given the often limited expertise and resources in these areas. Ultimately, the channel isn’t a strong sales and marketing engine. Vendors know well that partners are more a source of technical skill and market presence (feet on the street) than a source of independent sales and marketing. In the pursuit of more revenue and profitability, what will ensure effectiveness and success?

First, it’s important for vendors to take note of the goals they hope to accomplish with channel sales programs. They include:

  • Growing revenue through shorter sales cycles
  • Expanding market share over the competition
  • Elevating margins by lowering operational overhead
  • Decreasing the cost of selling product/solution
  • Advancing up-selling or cross-selling opportunities
  • Expanding their footprints by selling through the channel via VARs, resellers, and integrators

Unfortunately, the path to achieving those goals is often peppered with obstacles. Research by The 2112 Group has uncovered some of the challenges that partners face when it comes to sales and marketing:

  • Insufficient marketing skills and processes
  • Incomplete or nonexistent business and sales planning
  • Low top-line revenue and limited sales pipeline visibility
  • Scarce acquisition of net-new customers
  • Ineffective sales, support, and/or technical resources

Those obstacles, among others, explain to a large degree why partners lean so heavily on vendors for sales and marketing support. But they shouldn’t be used as excuses. Partners need not drop the ball on the sales and marketing efforts they expend; they just need to be more deliberate in their planning and execution.

The goal of partner engagement and enablement on a business level – specifically, in sales and marketing – is to ensure that growth doesn’t end with re-marketing to existing customers. Vendor marketing teams must communicate the value of products and services to, with, through, and for channel partners. Furthermore, such programs should focus on helping partners find new customers and expand market share for themselves and their vendors.

Leveraging marketing automation platforms and customer/partner relationship management (CRM/PRM) systems with channel features such as MDF/co-op fund management allow for more efficient reporting on sales and marketing progress. As a result, vendors and their partner networks can keep tabs on marketing campaigns, sales progress, and deal registration, among other things.

It’s an unfortunate reality that time, challenges, and even success can cause partnerships to drift apart. This applies to both external and internal relationships. To continue moving forward, what’s sometimes needed is an affirmation of future potential. Successful technology businesses and channel partners have to re-invent themselves and their mutual commitments in order to thrive and grow. Sales and marketing teams need to re-align to remind themselves they’re all on the same team. Like the seasons, everything comes full circle.


Diana L. Mirakaj is president and chief operating officer of The 2112 Group. You can follow her on Twitter at @dlenam.