This article is the second in a series of point-counterpoint articles that aim to reconcile an agency's idealistic view of business with the corporate insider's pragmatic point of view. (The first article was "Point/Counterpoint: Two Seconds to Relevance.") Two of the authors of this debate work for Ciena. Bill Koss is vice-president of global alliance partners, and Bill Rozier is vice president of global marketing. Together, they have built a progressive marketing and sales system that seems to have eliminated much of the typical animosity between sales and marketing. In this article, we will discuss how that happened. But, first, Bill Babcock gives a little more background information.
Bill Babcock: Most companies we know of have a serious problem: Sales hates marketing, and marketing despises sales. Marketing is having great success generating leads and uncovering opportunity. But sales has no respect for what marketing accomplishes. They take leads grudgingly and when the leads turn into real opportunities they claim those opportunities were already on their radar.
There seems to be an unbridgeable gulf between these teams—they have separate goals, separate cultures, and different fears and motivations.
Sales folks make quota or they are gone. They spend their day dealing with rejection and sweating their numbers. Marketing people never feel this constant pressure. When they skip in with a fistful of prospects and say, "I've just made your job easy—go sell to all these hot leads," the sales force wants to kill them.
On the other hand, sales has no detectable foresight. They undercut marketing even when they are getting leads that will make their quota next quarter or next year. Marketing initiates marketing conversations that turn to sales conversations, and when they do, sales gives them NO credit—no matter how overwhelming the accountability evidence might be. Sales cares only about what is happening this quarter and what marketing did for sales today. But marketing has to look further into the future.
We see our clients struggle to bring these teams together. I've always believed that it can be done, but it's a painful partnership. It's like the Brits and the Yanks teaming up in World War II. They didn't necessarily like each other and they didn't hang out together and sing Kumbaya, but they knew the competition was deadly and they were doomed if they didn't work together, so they got the job done. That seems like the best you can hope for.
Ciena looks to be an exception. From the outside, it seems that you and your teams have solved some of these problems. Is that true, or am I just seeing the public face?
Bill Koss (Sales): We certainly live in a different world than marketing—but it is a world with a common end game.