There are times when combining the roles of sales and marketing director
must seem a logical action to even the largest of companies. After all,
the only function of marketing that matters is to promote sales -
everything else, from marketing communications to pricing and
distribution, is a means to an end. Why not make the board member who’s
responsible for sales also responsible for their promotion?
For many, it’s an arrangement that seems to work. Yet this week Philips
decided to split the sales and marketing roles. According to UK managing
director Simon Turner, it saw the need to focus on the relationship
between brand and consumers - especially young consumers, and to
cultivate electronics buyers of the future.
Here’s a clear example of where sales and marketing may clash: the sales
function is held responsible for its performance as measured in revenue
at the end of each month, quarter or fiscal year. Yet building a brand
is an activity that may produce its best results in five, ten or 20
years. Short-term and long-term objectives may clash, and both need a
champion in the boardroom.
Advertising and promotion is a ‘soft’ budget area which is ripe for
cutting when times are hard. Will sales fall in the first year of a cut?
Probably not - but short-term, the result is a boost to the bottom
line. But if the reservoir of brand awareness is not kept topped up by
promotion, and if new consumers are not spotted by marketers, sales will
Philips’ problem is not quality of product, or its brand image - it is
that it has allowed a generation of consumers to grow up who think it’s
boring. Mr Timmer has a major task ahead, but by recognising there’s a
problem, Philips is half-way to a solution.