Sales and marketing have had a complimentary relationship since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Sure, marketing wasn’t called marketing then, and selling may have been more commonly known as “peddling,” but the codependency between “sales” and “marketing” has been there all along. Traditionally, marketers hunt leads; and sales converts them to customers. Sounds like a natural pairing. Is there a problem here? Yes, they heavily rely on each other to succeed, but more often than we’d like, they’re not working together as a unified team. To bring in new customers, sales and marketing teams must work with and support one another, not simply take care of their own “clan.”
It may very well be the case that your sales and marketing teams are not exactly working hand in hand for the greater good. So how can your organization’s leadership team and the larger group of folks in each of the two departments solidify and optimize a symbiotic relationship that ultimately results in more wins? Here are a few pointers:
Take It From the Top
In business, change almost always comes from the top. It’s up to leadership to effectively communicate the message that Sales and Marketing have to join together to function as one big team. Again, this mandate succeeds best when those at the highest level of the organization clearly outline the goals and objectives that are foundational to the success of the business. When failure arises, usually the blame game is not far behind. What typically happens is that Sales says it’s Marketing’s fault, and Marketing turns around and points the finger at Sales. In hindsight, members of both teams are pretty certain who made the mistakes and what everyone should have done differently … if only they’d been the ones doing the decision making. You can increase the chances of succeeding more often by defining goals and objectives, and by ensuring that they’re understood and agreed upon by all. From there, sales and marketing department heads can develop actionable plans, with steps, benchmarks and clear accountability for both teams.
Rethink Lead Scoring
Lead generation is obviously in Marketing’s wheelhouse, but it’s really important when leads come in to score them objectively. A new marketing campaign can result in a flood of leads, but if all or most of those leads score low, they’re of little to no worth either to Sales or to the business as a whole. On the flipside, marketing campaigns that might have been previously seen as low-value initiatives could bring in fewer but higher quality leads.
Viewing the business from this standpoint is key to objectively holding each team accountable for steps they can control and outcomes they can influence: It’s Marketing’s responsibility to generate quality leads, which is what Sales wants; Sales is accountable for closing deals, which is what Marketing wants.
Create the Right Assets
By now, most everybody understands that today’s customers are pretty savvy. The internet has provided them with the tools to weigh their options quite early on in the buying cycle. This represents a monumental shift in buying habits that has resulted in Sales wielding a lot less influence during the research phase of the buying process. This change in buying habits means that Marketing is now tasked with producing “assets” that clearly demonstrates the importance of solving a problem. At the same time the assets must be targeted to establish credibility in the organization and the product/service. The tricky part is Sales is not there to back that up with a conversation, the way they might have been in the old days. Assets can include things like white papers, e-books, case studies and infographics. When done right, such collateral stands in for the “early conversation,” effectively communicating a targeted message, creating awareness, building credibility and encouraging the prospect to engage with sales.
Communicate, Communicate—Communicate Some More
Communication is crucial for collaboration between your sales and marketing departments. Work together to create plans, but know that you might have to go “off roading” because sometimes the path takes an unexpected turn or disappears before your eyes. That’s OK. You can build in the possibility of unanticipated outcomes. Just be sure that when implementing your plan—and all its possible iterations—you’ve got clear, consistent communication between Sales and Marketing. Only then can you all learn, adapt, and make sound choices as one big team, improving the process by increments as you go. What you want always is the best partnership you can build. Remember, we’re stronger together.