In most businesses where there’s a direct or indirect sales force that’s responsible for all or part of the company’s revenue, its sales department owns the revenue pipeline. Marketing may play a supporting role by supplying leads, although in practice, their leads are often ignored. Sales controls the revenue process and is held accountable for top-line growth. As a result, sales tends to hold more political power than any other corporate function. That’s almost certainly why so many CEOs come from the ranks of sales departments.
Marketing, on the other hand, is usually excluded from the revenue process. At many companies, the sales team conducts a weekly revenue call where various sales leaders update their forecasts for the month or quarter, thus helping executive leaders keep their finger on the pulse of revenue. Yet nobody from marketing is even on the line. Over the past few years, I have asked literally dozens of senior sales executives, CEOs, and CFOs one simple question about their revenue call process: “Do you have your head of marketing in on the call?”
Amazingly, at least to me, almost no one answers with a simple “no.” Instead, they look at me as if I had grown a third head and am spouting crazy talk. They start figuring out how they can get past me to the door.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit, but my point stands. Many executives cannot even fathom the notion that a marketing leader would be an integral part of the ...