Are your sales and marketing functions siloed? Mine were, but we're changing that in a hurry. Why? Because more and more evidence supports the wisdom that organizations with tightly bound sales and marketing functions run rings around their siloed foes.

Consider these statistics:

  • Forrester Research reports that aligned sales and marketing organizations achieved an average of 32 percent annual revenue growth while less aligned companies reported an average 7 percent decline in revenue.
  • MarketingProfs says organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing had 36 percent higher customer retention rates and achieved 38 percent higher sales win rates than their competitors.

While I'm a big believer in quantitative data, I'm an even bigger fan of qualitative research. So, I turned to one of our clients, Peter Weedfald, SVP Sales & Marketing Home Appliances, SHARP Electronics Marketing Company of America (SEMCA).

According to Weedfald, "Sales and marketing are exactly the same consumer-facing and customer-facing process and proposition. When sales and marketing perform as one, the company and the stockholders have won."

Here are his tips for merging two siloed units into one ferocious weapon:

1.) Set the tone at the top: Leadership must make it clear to the entire organization that sales and marketing have the same purpose, vision and strategy, and are fully empowered to invest and act as one. The functions should operate with one budget (both above and below the P&L line) and be measured as a single entity.

2.) End Old Habits: This new creed should be codified in an operational alignment document agreed upon by sales and marketing and shared with all parties. Bring this to life, for example, by creating new business cards for every team member that read "Sales & Marketing."

3.) Cultivate a start-up mentality: Sales and marketing should act like a startup, with the vision and power to shred traditional company practices when it comes to process and engagements.

4.) Form a knowledge nexus: Marketing must be trained on all aspects of the sales structure and process, while sales must be trained on all aspects of the marketing structure and process. Shared knowledge will drive mutual respect, planning and action, which will ignite business.

5.) Galvanize with a shared purpose: Sales and marketing must agree on how to target customers to drive their desired outcome. Each function can leverage a different toolkit, as long as both move a customer from attention to interest to conviction to desire to close. Marketing may use a 30-second TV commercial - with only the first 10 seconds to gain attention and interest. Sales might use a 60-minute meeting - with only the first 10 minutes to do the same. Their strategies should mirror each other, even if the tactics are different.

6.) Create a data reservoir: All customer sales data and all consumer marketing data must be made easily accessible by all team members and shared so it can be analyzed to improve on sales and marketing investments.

7.) Unite in the market: Marketers should be invited to face-to-face and virtual sales calls to gain perspective and add value with their marketing expertise and assets. Likewise, sales should be invited to marketing meetings, including brainstorms and media buys.

8.) Share every success: Leaders must create channels to enable each side to applaud the other for smart strategies and successful tactics. Create a process for incorporating these winning ways into both functions.

9.) Feed the content machine: Content is king and queen when sales and marketing unite to make it more creative and relevant. Implement a process to enable both functions to contribute content across every touchpoint on a regular basis.

10.) Follow the formula: Sales and marketing should have a common goal: capture the imagination of customers through the brand and its products and services. What's the formula for realizing this? Imagination = creativity + relevance. If sales and marketing campaigns are highly creative but not relevant, they'll fail. If they are relevant but lack creativity, they won't grab the imagination. Each function can act as a check and balance for the other to make certain that both factors come to life.

Want more proof? Listen to what Warren Chaiken, CEO and president of Philadelphia-based Almo Corporation, a privately held national appliance and consumer electronics distributor (and Sharp partner), had to say, "The strategy to combine sales and marketing under one united team is highly effective and profitable for our brand and our customers. For us and Sharp Appliances, it's resulted in a formidable double digit percent average account increase in multiple local markets."