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Sales and marketing?

Just before Christmas the CIM took the very bold step to publish a paper that has sparked a huge amount of debate within the marketing press.

The paper called for the integration of the marketing and sales functions. A rather radical statement from a professional body that is funded by membership fees paid, largely by marketing professionals.

Over many years, the CIM has tried very hard to develop and promote professional standards within the marketing profession, so many such highly accomplished professionals appear to be quite aggrieved by this approach.

The premise of the proposition is that the most effective businesses are those where the sales and marketing functions work together and jointly take responsibility for revenue generation and the future of the business or the brand.

It uses language such as “firms are forced to consider changes in the conventional distinction between marketing strategy formulation and sales implementation”.

Even the great Malcolm McDonald is quoted as saying: “Marketing is already dead in the water in many organisations,” citing the poor performance of the marketing function in demonstrating the return on spend which then leads to the marketing department being perceived as a wasteful promotional department.

Taking this last point, I totally agree that many marketing managers have failed to demonstrate the ROI on their budgets and show that marketing spend is Investment and not cost. I even put my hand up and admit that I have often found this difficult to do.

I also agree with another point made in the paper, that many companies use the marketing function purely for promotions and communications, which is just one of the infamous 4 Ps of the marketing mix.

Here I think it is the marketing profession (namely the CIM) that has failed to demonstrate to the CEO that marketing is more about strategy than a nice brochure.

Above all of this I found that the paper demonstrated to me that basic business functions such as marketing and sales differ across industries. The paper caused a huge outcry vocalised in Marketing Week in particular.

You would have thought that the CIM has called the Queen a devil. But the commentary simply shows that there is a difference in the approach to marketing between B2C and B2B organisations.

Indeed, I firmly believe that industries will tackle the marketing function in different ways.

In my 25-plus years of working in the construction industry, I have always worked in businesses where sales and marketing work closely together.

Sure, there is often friction because the sales team can’t sell with the brochure that the marketing guys created, for instance, but generally it is sales and marketing not sales or marketing.

In fact, there are very few businesses that split sales and marketing at the board level.

So maybe the CIM is right to call for integration of the functions? I say it has already happened in many companies in the construction industry and that’s a good thing.

But I call for the CIM to stick to raising the standards and awareness of what marketing really is and what it can do for the business, irrespective of who does it.

Ian Exall is the marketing manager at shower manufacturerAqualisa and chairman ofCIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group.

CIMCIG is the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group. CIMCIG assists marketers working in the construction industry. Whether they work for contractors, manufacturers, professional practices, materials suppliers, information providers or specialist marketing consultants. Membership of CIMCIG is more than 800 and growing. For further details


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