Integrative Medicine: So Why not Integrative Marketing and Sales?
I am a big fan of the integrative medicine movement. As Duke Integrative Medicine describes it: Integrative medicine is an approach to care that puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. It uses the most appropriate interventions from an array of scientific disciplines to heal illness and disease and help people regain and maintain optimum health.
Now, let the analogies begin. If such a well-established industry as medicine (finally) starts to adapt to changing circumstances, why can’t marketing and sales?
As the Kalish Institute put it: A good integrative clinic takes into account many different approaches to healing and wraps them together into the best possible package for an individual patient. And as Chris Ryan puts it: A good integrative marketing and sales model incorporates and blends all marketing and sales processes into one seamless lead-to-revenue framework that fully supports and optimizes revenue growth.
Just to be clear, integrated marketing usually refers to using all of our weapons in the marketing arsenal to communicate our brand message to the consumer. Here, we are talking about integrative marketing, which puts revenue generation at the center of everything. Irrespective of silos, this holistic focus retains a laser focus on how revenue is generated; by whom; and how we replicate success and avoid failure implementing these specific processes
Four Tenets of Integrative Marketing and Sales
No preconceptions. This means no sacred cows and no hard and fast rules about which media or functions to utilize. Certain marketing and sales managers have their preferred strategies and tactics and they want to apply these to whatever current scenario they face. This is like the statement that “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
As an example: Early in my career, I was a marketing director at one of the hottest enterprise software vendors (name omitted to protect the innocent). We hired a new VP of Sales for North America and he immediately initiated a process to verticalize the field sales force. In other words, you were no longer a rep responsible for the Southeast Florida territory, but rather, a telco rep responsible for 20 states. Fair enough, but when this individual left the company, his replacement reversed the vertical assignment so all reps reverted back to the geographic territory model. I like to think that both decisions were made based on hard data, but in fact, they were based on the comfort level of the sales executives and what they had done in prior positions. .
A problem in one area impacts overall results. Effective integrative marketing and sales is like a finely-tuned manufacturing process, where a problem with one step can inhibit downstream activities and reduce total output. Likewise, a company that is great at generating inquiries, but poor at the qualification step, will starve the sales team of opportunities, definitely affecting revenue. To make sure this does not occur in your organization, you need to establish a range of acceptable performance for each function (e.g. inquiry-to-qualified lead conversion ratio) and relentlessly monitor and adjust as necessary to stay within these ranges.
Shared data-driven measurements – I mentioned above how pre-conceived notions and prior experience can trump data when it comes to marketing and sales policies. Worse yet, when the numbers aren’t met, the sales and marketing people start pointing fingers at each other. Before I knew better, I was part of these usually counterproductive discussions. A better alternative is to create a scenario where both the sales and marketing departments are responsible for, and get credit for, generating new and repeat revenue. Yes, each department has its own set of sub-deliverables, but in the end, you either succeed or fail together.
Service Level Agreements – Shared responsibility and credit sound great but only if they are based on strict accountability from each party. To ensure this, create a service level agreement (SLA) between the two departments, containing items like:
- Number of leads required
- When they are to be delivered
- What constitutes a sales-ready lead
- How leads are distributed to the field
- How a sales reps dispositions and closes leads
- How marketing and sales contributions are measured in a closed-loop system
Read this for more information about whether you can benefit from a service level agreement. And, unless your marketing and sales functions are fully optimized and integrated to meet your revenue goals, consider giving the integrative approach a try.