A recent article on MarketingProfs, entitled “Marketing and sales Alignment Pays Off in Recession” summarized several details from the 2010 edition of the “Sales Best Practices Study” by Miller Heiman, a company that specializes in ‘sales performance’.

Despite the title, the alignment of sales and marketing always pays off, even if there is no recession. More to the point: the walls between sales and marketing (and other departments) still too form an obstacle to improve the customer satisfaction and the bottom-line in a fragmented cross-channel world where the client is increasingly more in charge.

The study, conducted in cooperation with the Northern Illinois University, established that companies with a strong alignment between the sales and marketing department where much better off during the economic recession. They had more new clients, better revenue, a higher customer retention, a better average order value per client etc.

11% of the companies with a high alignment between sales and marketing had a growth of more than 5% in the area of customer retention compared to last year. The probability that these businesses recorded a revenue growth was 19% higher. And finally, they scored 5% better in the area of customer acquisition.

And the figures carry on. But is this just related with the recession?

What exactly does Miller Heiman claim?

That the sales performance metrics with the best companies are in line with the business objectives. That the same companies consistently centralize their clients in the commercial process, know why their clients buy from them, have participation from the management in the sales process, are quick in adjusting to changing customer needs etc.

All of this is common business sense, just as the alignment of sales and marketing is. Customer-centric and data-driven thinking and acting, everyone striving for the same goals, focusing on procedures whereby the client, the retention and the satisfaction are the most important parameters: it’s business 101.

And companies where marketers, sales people, managers and other divisions can see that this is what it is all about, simply score better.

The most important conclusion from the study was not the fact that the alignment between sales and marketing leads to better results. The most important conclusion in my opinion was that only 4,6% of the companies received the classification “world-Class Sales Organization” and therefore comply with all these sales and marketing best practices. In 2009 that was 7%.

Or in other words: there is still much to do to get companies to actually think and operate customer-centric, cross-channel and holistic.