Thinker, Blamer, Junkie

Here’s some good news in this perilous economic climate: The need to do more with less — and faster — is bringing sales and marketing teams together.  Aligning sales and marketing requires a mindset change from scarcity of resources to be fought over to one of abundance achieved through partnership.  If you’re in marketing, and want to align with sales, sparking the conversation can be daunting because some sales leaders are thinkers, some are blamers and some are what we might call junkies.

The Thinker is a reflective leader, focused as much on the how and why as on the results.  A solid business case for aligning sales and marketing will make sense to them and they are usually a receptive and collaborative partner. Thinkers want to understand the process, how it impacts their team, and when they can expect results. 

  • Start the conversation over lunch, during a social event or after a quarterly sales review meeting.  

Blamers believe their teams are doing the best they can with their resources.  When Sales miss revenue objectives, they think other parts of the organization didn’t do their part with  marketing often to blame.  To get on board, the Blamer needs transparent reporting on lead generation,  handoff to sales and field sales programs. 

  • A formal initial conversation that includes other peers can be more effective than casually broaching the subject. A sound business case and visible support from the CFO and CEO encourages a Blamer to cooperate. 

The Junkie is the consummate sales person.  It’s all about the thrill of the deal, from the hunt to the close.   A Junkie’s frustration with Marketing is a belief that Marketing doesn’t understand how unproductive it is for sales teams to focus on anything but truly qualified leads.  Their interest is in improving the pipeline and customer loyalty. Like the Thinker, the Junkie wants to understand the business case for alignment and how it impacts the teams. 

  • A casual conversation can effectively introduce the idea, but Marketing should expect to lead the effort and do most of the alignment work.  The Junkie needs to be routinely briefed on what’s happening and next steps. If they see progress in the size of the pipeline and close rate, you could not ask for a more enthusiastic partner.

The tension between Sales and Marketing comes from misunderstandings.  The roles are different and each job is hard.  Marketing can get on the path to success through alignment by looking for ways to say ‘yes’ to sales’ needs.  Sales needs to see some results from alignment before endorsing changes.  Understanding the style of your sales leader, being prepared and sensitive to their hot points, and transparency will pay off for marketing and the company.

Comments (6)

  1. Gaurav Deshpande -
    February 25, 2010

    Excellent article Christine! It would be interesting to see a follow-on blog about what type of ideas/proposals appeal to each type (content, style etc.) and ideas on how to neutralize the “blamers” :-).

  2. Kevin McMahon -
    March 1, 2010

    I like your classification scheme – could be the basis for a field guide on “How to ID your Sales Leader”!

    I agree with the importance of transparent data to help diffuse the concerns of the sales leader, though I’m not convinced that approach would work reliably with the Blamer-type. In my experience, these folks are suspicious of data and tend to argue that the numbers have been skewed to support a point of view they do not share. So as Guarav notes above, finding effective ways to address this issue is key if a real “partnership” can be forged between sales and marketing.

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