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After spending some time as a sales professional, I can honestly say that I love sales professionals. I’ve talked to many young marketers at marketing conferences over the years, and one of the things I always tell them is that to be a great marketer, you have to spend time on sales.
Since sales and marketing are different jobs within a company and both rely on the other for success, conflicts will often arise. Marketing professionals are responsible for building the overall brand while helping to increase engagement and awareness among potential buyers. Sales professionals, on the other hand, help turn that engagement and brand awareness into revenue.
The competition between the two departments can often reach a peak. During my career it always feels like one side is always jealous of the other and vice versa. The catch is that these teams need to be in sync with each other. Because salespeople need the brand awareness that marketers develop, and because marketers depend on sales to foster deeper connections with buyers, sales and marketing are actually two sides of the same coin. There must be unity between the two departments for a company to ultimately be successful. Let’s take a look at four strategies I’ve used over the years that can help you take that competitive nature and translate it into better camaraderie for a smoother, more influential, and more profitable marketing and sales partnership.
Related: 3 Ways to Unite Sales and Marketing Teams to Generate Demand
1. Meet regularly
Many factors affect how often sales and marketing converge, such as the complexity of your offerings and campaigns. External factors also play a role. For example, during the pandemic, many organizations had to adjust the number of virtual meetings, not only because so many people were offsite, but also to reassure and support everyone involved. Don’t be afraid to be flexible and reduce or increase the number of meetings according to your circumstances.
When I first brought my sales and marketing teams together, I talked a lot about my own agenda. But the meetings evolved over time and became an opportunity for everyone to introduce and discuss ideas. Because everyone cooperated, the conversations became cohesive. People felt much more like we were on the same page. I also purposely blurred the line by inviting our head of sales to present with me at a marketing-focused event. We spoke with the guests present about how sales and marketing can work together in the interest of the organization. This top-down collaboration modeled for both teams that it was not only acceptable, but actually preferable for us to work as a team.
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2. Define terms
Sales and marketing teams often use their own language and use terms such as lead, prospect, engagement and close. Even if both teams think they are familiar with the definition of these expressions, there may be differences in connotation that can cause disconnection or confusion. So one of the most critical aspects of bringing sales and marketing teams together is to purposefully define what the words or phrases within your organization mean to you. Going through this process improves understanding and efficiency. It gives people a chance to think about the company’s goals and values as well, as you will be using specific language when developing and implementing specific strategies. When people can talk clearly about what the company wants to do, it’s easier to get both buy-in and a healthier relationship between departments because everyone understands their role and purpose within the bigger picture.
3. Discuss process
Both sales and marketing may seem superficial, but there are many steps to getting there, including conducting buyer surveys, A/B testing campaigns, or customizing campaigns, products or services based on sales feedback. Some of these steps may be independent within one department. Others are linear, where sales cannot move forward until marketing is complete or vice versa.
Both sales and marketing need to understand the steps required to complete the process and why you are going through them. This reassures people that others are not wasting time or resources and helps them see how all the different steps fit into a larger strategy. It also helps people be realistic about pacing. If you need to adjust your process, the togetherness and awareness of both teams will make those transitions smoother. This is crucial, as markets are never static and require great flexibility from companies. Discussions of the process also allow you to re-evaluate your tools and organizational structure.
Related: What the Future May Hold for Account-Based Marketing
4. Follow and trust
There are plenty of opportunities for sales and marketing teams to track their collaborative success, such as through customer surveys or checking how many units you’ve sold. But make sure you collect as much of your data as possible in one place (that is, create a single source data that includes both marketing and sales data), and then make that information accessible to everyone. When you democratize data in this way, people can be confident that others will use that information appropriately for their jobs. Build dashboards that highlight the right data to hold everyone accountable, because the data will let everyone know how your organization is progressing.
A vigorous walk begins with the first step
As the old saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So if your sales and marketing teams are more disjointed than you’d like and closing the gap seems overwhelming, just focus on getting the first interdepartmental meetings going. Start the conversation and let them taste some first results, because through the process of creating those discussions and experiences in a safe environment, you can make people dream about how unity could transform the business. Those dreams can then turn into a collective motivation that will propel you forward. Sales and marketing will always be essential to each other, so help your people see that and use their competitive nature to help them move in the same direction.