In a recent issue of BtoB magazine, sales and marketing alignment was the subject of a special report. As I read the articles, I saw some themes:
- Marketing manages the call center
- Inside sales is nurturing leads longer
- Technology gains a more prominent role
All of these ideas were solid, and they have a track record in many organizations. We might think there’s progress, at last. Maybe it’s just me … but I felt the “let’s bring this together and make it work dammit” sentiment was missing something completely.
Whenever I try to solve problems, my instinct is to search for a similar situation at another place, explore how it was solved, and capture any lessons learned. There are not many problems that nature and human history haven’t already encountered. My approach is not perfect, but often it breaks the thinking rut I’d be in.
As a private pilot, one place I go searching is aviation. I thought of the relationship between the Air Force and the Army. They each do different things and have a parallel life for the most part, but in modern day warfare, one cannot do without the other. The Air Force provides cover for the Army to advance; the Army can secure and hold the gains successfully.
Another relationship I thought of is between the pilot and the air traffic controller. Pilots are responsible for single airplanes, while controllers manage all the planes taking off, in cruise or landing phase. At any given time, there is more than one controller watching and handing off planes from one sector to another. In my recent trip to Chicago Center (ZAU) I was privileged to watch this fascinating world of air traffic controllers keeping us safe.
These examples bring at least two critical traits: First, everyone involved has a common mission, be it victory or safety. Second, people really are putting their lives in the other guy’s hands in some very risky situations.
Now we don’t think of marketing and sales in this risky a light, but what bond like this do we share? How can we define a common mission? How can our success be measured by the success we collectively achieve?