We have all seen VPs of Sales and Marketing in organizations. From my experience having worked with probably a dozen or more in some capacity, I can tell you that these individuals are usually very high energy and very sales-closure minded. While they do have the dual responsibility for leading Sales and Marketing within the organization, they are almost always focused more on the Sales than the Marketing. This is especially true near the end of each quarter and certainly around the month of December as they try to close out the year with a bang.
With a VP of Sales and Marketing, you have one individual responsible for two very different charters, requiring varying mindsets and skills. Unfortunately, what happens with such a role is he/she is pulled away from critical marketing discussions and initiatives to put out a sales fire or to close that big deal. Sure, revenue is imperative. There is no denying that. But, a short-term focus on revenue should not obfuscate a focus on longer-term marketing programs which will also yield revenue later on.
Let me show you the differences between the two positions.
Revenue generation, strategic sales plans based on company goals, promoting sales growth within existing accounts, managing sales team; Ensuring proper sales training, sales support and sales processes
Deals, deals, deals; reaching sales targets by end of quarter and end of year. Metrics, metrics, metrics.
High energy, seconds away from having to answer the next critical sales-related call (new opportunity, deal win or loss, putting out fires…); focused on the short term; a talker; action oriented; outwardly confident, somewhat strategic minded
In constant communication with CEO and top management who always want sales/revenue projections and updates
Sales processes, skills, activity, management, training, personnel
Developing marketing, partnership and lead generation policies, programs and systems; generating new leads; crafting and executing strategic marketing plan aimed at achieving corporate objectives; branding, market positioning and brand messaging
Leads, branding, internal and external communications; competition, differentiation and messaging; products and services
Perceptive, a listener, patient, moderate energy, strategic minded, confident but not overtly outward
CEO visibility but not nearly as much as the VP Sales as initiatives are more ongoing and longer term
Budget, resources, competition
After reviewing the above chart, certain pictures should have formed in your mind, and if you’re like me, the two pictures don’t match. This is because the two roles are too disparate to merge. They do both have their strengths and impact on the organization, but they are seemingly paradoxical in almost every way when you see such a side-by-side comparison. The VP of Sales is focused on the short term and deal flow, while the VP of Marketing is focused on longer term programs designed to boost the brand and lead generation efforts. VPs of Sales are focused on end-of-quarter and end-of-year numbers. VPs of Marketing focus on continuing initiatives that are agnostic to fiscal cycles. Yes, there is some obvious overlap which I address below.
Companies with a VP of Sales and Marketing on staff typically chose to empower this person with these two very different roles for various reasons – some they are open about and some are likely kept hidden. They include:
- Reduce headcount and spend
- Streamline the management team
- Consolidate business development and lead generation roles – integrated budgets, etc.
- CEO is focused too heavily on sales and does not recognize the full value of marketing
- Desire to have one set of fingerprints on the gun – that is, with a single VP of Sales and Marketing, there is but one throat to choke when something goes wrong.
- Desire to save money with an integrated sales/marketing budget (with the majority going toward sales initiatives)
Regardless of the reasons, in my opinion, both sales and marketing roles within companies must remain distinctly separate.
There are some obvious areas of overlap between the VP of Sales and VP of Marketing roles that I admit must be discussed, such as inside sales, lead cultivation, tradeshows, messaging and sales tools. The best approach here is for each of the two VPs to allocate personnel and budget to work together. This way both the Sales and Marketing interests will be well represented for maximum impact.
So what I’m saying here is that the two positions should be distinctly separate, but the two departments must be deeply linked.
Split up the two positions with leaders who have the unique skills and experiences required for each role, but make them work together, starting with a merged Sales and Marketing plan which proposes the strategies and tactics that will be employed to achieve the company’s corporate goals and growth targets. I don’t mean this in a window-dressing kind of way. Literally link the two positions with a dotted line so they are forced to work closely together. The value in such an integrated relationship can be tantamount to upgrading from a Honda Civic to a Cadillac Escalade.
I propose leaving budgets separate, however, with one caveat. They must be reviewed together to identify areas of overlap so that appropriate resources from each division can be allocated accordingly to maximize performance. Joint or at least parallel metrics reporting is also imperative here. By pooling data prior to reporting, the resulting KPIs and charts will appear much more telling, insightful, meaningful and valuable.
By Kevin Levi
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