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4 Strategies to End the Struggle Between Marketing and Sales

By Jun 01, 2014

By Pieterjan Bouten

Marketing and sales are often mentioned in the same breath, giving the appearance of two groups working together as one cohesive unit. In reality, the two can be more like oil and water. But times and technology are changing, and with this change comes the opportunity for sales and marketing teams to bridge the divide to achieve success—together.

sales and marketingAt the same time, the customer has never been more informed. New data from a TapResearch shows that nearly 50% of sales professionals admit to being outsmarted by a customer during a sales meeting. Clearly it is time for sales and marketing to unite forces, find common ground, improve communication and achieve success in partnership. Here’s how to get started:

1. Get Social
Establishing a healthy working relationship with colleagues is always important, but it tends to take extra effort with someone who isn’t in your department. Move beyond company social networks like Yammer, Chatter or old-school group email to create meaningful one-on-one relationships. Hold meetings outside the office in a more social environment to build camaraderie. Understand the motivations—both personal and professional—that are important to your colleagues in sales. Are they focused on family goals? Looking for professional gains? Or, are they passionate about new technologies that will help them in their jobs? This context will help you engage in more authentic conversations. Know the key accounts that your sales team is trying to close. Ask sales people for feedback on marketing campaigns and materials to find out if they had an impact generating leads and closing deals. Celebrate success and discuss strategy and next steps over dinner. Getting to know each other in a more social setting may be the best way to achieve your joint goals.

2. Set a Common Goal
The best professional partnerships revolve around a common goal. Of course, revenue growth is the one overarching goal sales and marketing are ultimately working towards, but what does the path to success look like? Identify the pieces of the sales process that will gain incremental results from working together. Review lead-scoring elements together. Are the right leads making it to the sales team? Identify sticky parts of the pipeline and discuss how marketing programs might make an impact. Assess the technologies both groups are using to determine if they can truly help achieve the end goal. The TapResearch survey of sales professionals shows a significant rise in adoption of mobile technologies with 30% reporting tablets as the technology that would help them most on the job. Sit down and discuss how these new platforms could improve marketing and sales alignment to ensure everyone is working together to achieve the end goal.

3. Divide and Conquer
Now that you’ve aligned your interests, you can focus on those things that you are good at and trust your counterpart do the same. As marketing communicates more and more directly with prospects, lines become blurred. A direct course of action is for marketing to clearly identify a lead as ‘qualified’ and then pass it with an assigned process to the sales person. Marketing is best at finding and engaging the target buyer; sales can then follow with the corresponding tactics and messaging to help the buyer further. Meet regularly to compare notes and take responsibilities for areas of improvement. There will always be instances where you have to work together: Focus on the areas that you are good at and trust that your partner will do his or her part.

4. Recognition Goes a Long Way
Everyone needs a pat on the back every now and then, but it’s more than a “thanks” at the annual meeting. Consider an annual sales awards program or better yet, a sales and marketing joint award. The TapResearch data showing that sales pros meet with customers who are smarter and better prepared than ever underscores the need for marketing and sales to work together. Have this collaboration start at the top by having the CMO participate on a sales call. This sends a powerful “same team” message and CMOs often know the pitch and customer stories better than anyone in the company. Make your vice president of sales an expert in your blog, as he or she has been selling a long time and knows all the angles.

Sales and marketing departments run at high speed. It’s easy to lose sight of these best practices and fall into familiar silos. Take the time to pause and connect. Ask yourself and your counterpart, “What problem are we trying to solve?” By revisiting these strategies together on a regular basis, operating as a team can become second nature and both sales and marketing teams will discover how powerful their partnership can be for their careers and for their companies.
Pieterjan Bouten, co-Founder and CEO of Showpad.