‘Smarketing’: strategies for sales and marketing alignment

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By Nick Laurance, Content Strategist, Incisive Media


The marketing and sales misalignment debate is well trodden. It suggests that marketers fail to link advertising dollars spent to actual sales made, so Sales can’t see the value of marketing efforts.

And, because the groups are poorly coordinated, Marketing’s new product announcements often came at a time when Sales were not prepared to capitalise on them.

As a company’s marketing and sales functions mature, the assumption is that the two divisions will link up more successfully. Many of the fund houses in the City of London are well-established with global identities so their relative ‘maturity’ should, the argument goes, transfer into better alignment. At the operating level, our initial research finds this to be true.

Head of UK Marketing at Allianz, Tom Hughes, says:

“Everything we do comes from product so we’re very closely aligned with Sales. I will have a debate with the sales head, he tells me what he wants and I will challenge him.

“Once we have the list of products we want to promote, I go away and create a marketing plan. Then my job is to deliver against that plan.”

That plan, adds Hughes, will generally be a mix of advertising and co-created content around fund launches or anniversaries.

This tends to be the typical approach of how investment marketers work alongside their counterparts in Sales. Another sector norm and to be expected is that Allianz have no board level representation for Marketing.

Yet in some quarters c-suite parity for Sales and Marketing in this sector is evolving. We spoke to an investment marketer at a large workplace pension scheme whose remit is to rollout a content and events strategy. He gave his comments anonymously. Interestingly, the Heads of Marketing and Sales at his employer both report into a board member who has marketing in their job title.

He says:

“We are operationally aligned, content and events go hand in hand. They are literally on the same spreadsheet.

“The idea is that we produce a lot of content which then lends itself quite nicely to be distributed at events. All of our activity around our sales, our business development, is aimed at the larger employers – and then the ongoing management of those accounts.”

The archetypical buying funnel below shows the kind of maturity model that pension groups like this one are on their way to achieving.


The buying funnel

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Source: Harvard Business Review, 2006


He adds:

“Because our buying audience is relatively small, we do nurture a close relationship with the business development team because most of the marketing spend is about developing leads for them.

“My experience at this group is that Marketing through to Business Development is seen as one journey. There is no drop-off.”


Learn more

In the autumn Incisive Media will extend our initial research into a more comprehensive study to find out how well sales and marketing work together in the asset management sector.  Are there more groups recognising marketing in the c-suite? How many fund groups have a documented content marketing strategy? Do they have a marketing automation platform in place?

We will address these questions and more, and present our findings at a dedicated event in February 2018. We look forward to seeing you there.  If you are interested in receiving the final report please register here to join the list.