There’s been a lot published over the years about overcoming the disconnect between Marketing and Sales, right? Recently, in fact, CMO published an article on this very topic. (It’s a pretty good article, but it doesn’t address the heart of the problem, like I’m about to do. Right now.)

The primary reason for the disconnect between Marketing and Sales, in my opinion, is that Marketing is frequently not focused on  a real outcome – it’s focused on a red herring. Specifically, all too often, Marketing believes that it exists to get leads. The marketing person or group has goals for numbers of leads generated, is sometimes compensated based on number of leads generated, and is frequently disappointed that the sales team doesn’t seem to take their leads seriously.

The fact of the matter is that marketing should NEVER exist to get leads (again, my opinion). Marketing exists to get sales. And sales are what give you the #1 goal of pretty much every business – increased revenue.

This situation happens because “get leads” is not the real outcome – and it’s a mistake to treat it like it is. Until marketing is tied to the sales goals, there will continue to be a disconnect between marketing and sales (no matter how sales-aligned your content is – as recommended in the cited article above). Increased revenue is the real outcome, and that’s where Marketing needs to be focused.

We get here by following a very short Why Chain, a concept that I originally developed as a way for organizations to understand the difference between real outcomes and red herrings in a decision process. I was studying the science of decision making back then, working with some very smart people who were doing groundbreaking work in the field, and one of our key findings is that most organizations have a disturbing tendency to start at the wrong end of a decision process – not clearly thinking through the outcomes that they want to achieve.

We get to the statement “increased revenue is the real outcome,” above, by following a short Why Chain, like this:

  1. We need more leads.
  2. Why do we need more leads?
  3. So we have more people to sell to.
  4. Why do we need more people to sell to?
  5. Because the more opportunities we have, the more sales we will have.
  6. Why do we need more sales?
  7. To increase our revenue.

The last step in the Why Chain exercise is to connect the first question to the last conclusion, like this: we need more leads so we can increase our revenue. See how it works? Too often, we create a burden around the first question in a why chain and lose sight of the desired outcome, as frequently happens with marketing – burden marketing with “get leads” and there’s a firestorm of activity to get leads, but without an eye on the outcome, the quality of leads suffers.

See what I mean?

The beauty of the Why Chain is that it works for EVERYTHING.

  1. I need to clean my house.
  2. Why do I need to clean my house?
  3. Because I want to invite people over.
  4. Why do I want to invite people over?
  5. Because I enjoy having people over.
  6. Why do I enjoy having people over?
  7. It makes me feel connected and engaged and happy.

Therefore, I need to clean my house so I can feel connected and engaged and happy. See?

One last key thing on this.

The beauty of the Why Chain is that it allows you to refocus your marketing efforts. Once you identify the real desired outcome – increasing revenue or feeling connected and engaged and happy, in these examples – you can work your way back DOWN from the outcome and explore OTHER ways in which you can achieve the desired outcome – and other places for potential improvement, and it lets you do it with your lens set correctly on the OUTCOME rather than the initial task. That’s focusing on the RIGHT end of the decision process.

When Marketing and Sales recognize that they are TOGETHER, in the same boat, aligned around the SAME goal – to increase revenue, the organization becomes stronger. Follow your Why Chain and see what your goals are – and align people around the right things that will allow them to work together to achieve those goals.

In the case of Marketing and Sales, once the teams are aligned around a common goal, you’ll likely see a higher quality of leads being passed to Sales, Sales more willing to engage with those leads, and a deeper understanding of how Marketing fits into the Sales process.

This is job #1. Get this straight, back it with the right marketing automation tools to enable action and measurement, and you’ll be on your way to the top of the proverbial heap.

In my next post, I’ll show you how to use the Why Chain to really get into the heads of your perfect potential customers. Fun!