For years now, there has been much discussion about recognizing and overcoming the disconnect between Sales and Marketing. A recent article was published in Adobe’s CMO publication about this topic: Content Can Fix The Disconnect Between Marketing and Sales. Though it’s a good article, it doesn’t focus on the core problem – like I am about to do.

In my opinion, the main reason for the disconnect between Sales and Marketing is the lack of focus on a real outcome. In fact, the focus is a red herring, and I will explain this phenomenon. All too often, the people in Marketing believe their purpose is to get leads. For example, the marketing person or team has goals for numbers of leads generated. Sometimes, they are compensated based on the number of leads generated, but they are often disappointed when they observe that the sales team doesn’t seem to take their leads seriously.

Truthfully, in my opinion, marketing people should never exist just to get leads but rather to obtain sales. Why? Sales are the primary goal of every business – to increase revenue so that they can justify their existence.

Let’s look at the real outcome and why just “getting leads” misses the mark. Marketing should be connected to sales goals, or else the disconnect between marketing and sales will ensue and mess up the whole sales process, no matter how sales-aligned your content is. Marketing should focus on increased revenue as the real outcome, not just obtaining leads attached to many “maybes” which places the goal of real outcomes into a grey area.

Our own Veep of Sales and Marketing, Margaret Johnson, came up with a great way to discern the difference between real outcomes and red herrings in a decision process. She created a very short “Why Chain” concept that we now incorporate into our processes here at A while back, Margaret studied the science of decision making and worked with some very smart people who were doing groundbreaking work in the field. One of her key findings was that most organizations mistakenly begin at the wrong end of the decision-making process while not clearly analyzing the outcomes that they want to achieve.

According to Margaret, obtaining the goal of “increased revenue is the real outcome” mentioned above, can be achieved 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.

To conclude this Why Chain exercise, the last step is to connect the first question to the last conclusion,  such as “we need more leads in order to increase our revenue.” This is how it works. Often, a burden emerges with the first question in the Why Chain and the desired outcome is lost in the process. In fact, this frequently happens with marketing as the burden and goal of “getting leads” occurs in a firestorm, but without focusing on the outcome. The quality of leads suffers when this happens and a disconnect manifests.

The practical use of the Why Chain is that it works for everything and allows marketers to actually visualize real outcomes.

Here is another general example I devised using the Why Chain:

  1. I need to invite people over for dinner.
  2. Why do I need to invite people over for dinner?
  3. Because I want to invite people over.
  4. Why do I want to invite people over?
  5. Because I enjoy the communication.
  6. Why do I enjoy the communication?
  7. It makes me feel connected, engaged, and I am always learning from others’ knowledge and experiences. I enjoy networking because you never know where it may lead.

The real outcome is learning, communicating, growing and not necessarily entertaining, see?

The wonderful goal of the Why Chain is that it allows you to focus on your marketing efforts. Why is this necessary? Once you identify the real desired outcome, which is increasing revenue or wanting to learn and communicate with others as depicted in these examples, you can work your way back down from the outcome and investigate other ways in which you can obtain the desired outcome. By exploring other ways to achieve the desired outcome, you can decipher other areas for potential improvement with the focus on the real outcome rather than the initial task. By taking this approach and following these steps, your attention is focused on the right end of the decision-making process.

Marketing and Sales people should recognize that they are together in the same vehicle and aligned around the same goal – to increase revenue. Once the revenue is increased, the organization or company becomes stronger so it’s important to follow your Why Chain, determine your goals, and align people around the right strategy and course of action that will allow them to work together to obtain these goals.

When the teams are aligned around a common goal in Marketing and Sales, a higher quality of leads will be passed to Sales. What is this course of action? Sales will engage with those leads, allowing a deeper understanding of how Marketing connects to the Sales process. It’s all about “connecting,” after all.

Get this right from the start - the intention, the initial task, then connect the dots with Marketing and Sales. Once achieved, back it with the right marketing automation tools to enable action and measurement. Then you’ll have climbed the mountain and will enjoy the spectacular view from the top.