In this new series of posts, I will pose some of the most common dilemmas I’ve seen in my career. I hope to ask the types of questions where the right thing to do is not so obvious and to get your perspective on how you would handle these situations.
Today’s Dilemma -- Should You Say Something?
You report to the VP of Marketing who is, in your opinion, a fairly competent marketing leader. His background is in branding and he has a deep understanding of targeting markets and positioning products. He’s not as strong in demand generation, but he is supportive of your efforts.
Being in charge of generating leads, you also have the responsibility to work with the sales team. You believe your relationship with sales is strong, but, like a lot of companies the economy is taking a toll on everyone’s attitudes as the company struggles to meet its goals. It’s nothing serious yet, but it is a constant struggle to respond to the sales team’s suggestions for how more leads can be generated.
Some of the suggestions from the sales team are good, but none of them are cheap. In your opinion, they aren’t going to bring in as many opportunities as the programs you are already executing so it’s not worth the trade-off. It’s difficult to explain this diplomatically to the sales team, but so far showing the cost/benefit of the programs seems to be working.
Recently, the VP of Sales suggest a project to you. She’s always been a bit of an “abrasive” personality, but before the economic slowdown her team was meeting goals regularly. It seemed that executive management was willing to put up with her style.
You suspect she’s under a lot of pressure to meet goals as she is becoming increasingly adamant that you execute her program – even more so than usual. You’ve tried to show her the cost/benefit analysis, but she’s not giving up. In fact, she’s suggested (perhaps demanded is a better word) that you execute her program and if it takes more money then marketing should find a way to get it. In this organization, all marketing campaigns are budgeted by marketing so asking for funds from sales is not an option.
Since she’s the peer of your manager, the VP of Marketing, you’ve tried to arrange a connection between the two of them. He’s the one who manages the budget and would have to approve any additional funds allocation. With the threat of budget cuts looming you suspect it's not likely to happen, but you figure it doesn't hurt to have the discussion.
You’ve been in some of the meetings between the two of them, but not all of them. From what you’ve seen, the VP of Marketing and the VP of Sales just aren’t communicating. Admittedly, the VP of Marketing doesn’t speak “sales” and the VP of Sales can’t tone down her style so that she can really communicate with the more even-keel VP of Marketing.
Now the VP of Sales has started to criticize the VP of Marketing in your meetings with her. She’s even made a couple of comments in front of her sales team that made everyone uncomfortable.
All around it feels like a bad situation. You doubt the VP of Marketing really has a clue what is being said about him. You have no idea what she says to executive management, but you suspect it’s not good. And, you’re certain that her attitude is going to start affecting the relationship between sales and marketing – to everyone’s detriment.
What would you do?