Expert's Panel

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    What are your thoughts on the organizational trends to separate sales from marketing and combine sales with field service?

  1. I don't like it. I think the sales people need to be more focused on the sales side and the field service people focused on service. The sales/field service combination is definitely a trend, however. I am absolutely an advocate of the separation of sales and marketing. They can report to the same top executive and there are some advantages in that, but they have to be completely separate organizations. Otherwise, marketing ends up spending too much time on sales and sales support causing a failure in doing product strategy and product definition. And, you certainly don't want your sales people doing too much of your field marketing activity, because they are too close to the customer. Instead you need a balance in the organization.
  2. I agree to the last half of what was just said. Sales and marketing need to be separated - they have different functions, different tasks, but they do need to closely interact. The fact that they are separated should make their interaction more useful and productive. I believe that the customer support group and the sales group should be under the same executive who has the major customer responsibility, who is the top sales manager. That being said you cannot normally put the field service person at the back and call of the regional sales manager unless that is a matrixed arrangement. The reason is that the sales person tends to over utilize the field service person in his or her selling activities to answer technical questions.
  3. (same respondent as Answer 1) - I have to disagree. My experience with a combined sales/field service organization is that my salespeople were spending way too much time in service meetings. They were camped out at Motorola at the dailies, doing yield reports and failure analysis, instead of selling products. In this particular case the VP of sales and service didn't have the ability to separate out this issues and let things pretty much run awry. Be careful with it.
  4. The last person you want running the service organization is the operations executive or engineering executive. Where in the world are you going to put them - it is a customer function which means with the sales organization.
  5. All three of these activities - sales, field service, and marketing - have different priorities. Where the problem lies is where an executive who is managing more than one isn't up to the task of managing all three with different goals. There aren't too many managers with that ability, so you are usually better off having them as separate organizations reporting to a common executive high up.
  6. I want to add some comments about people in key or global account management roles. Recent surveys indicate one of the greatest challenges they face - they are charged with maintaining the relationship and fertile account environment for future sales - was being able to marshal the proper resources to achieve that goal. So in these type of accounts, which are increasing in our industry, there is much to be said for having sales/service in one organization.