Building Alignment Between Sales & Marketing Teams

November 11, 2020 StudioDAdmin

Picture this: Your marketing team invests significant effort and expense to identify and research prospective customers, the best channels and communication methods to reach them, and creates content for the sales team. The sales team reviews the marketing plan and materials, thinking, “Marketing doesn’t know what goes into closing a sale in our industry.  This is useless to me.”

Sound familiar?

While the primary goal of both sales and marketing professionals is the same – generating revenue for the business – how they go about meeting that objective can lead to a rivalry harmful to each’s efforts, or worse, the company as a whole.  

Luckily, both parties are equipped with the exact talents needed to work in true harmonious teamwork. They just need to utilize those talents to engage with each other.  

Why do these teammates become rivals? We’ve found that they often start with different mindsets and their leadership doesn’t necessarily encourage goal alignment.

Marketing is a big-picture, long-range endeavor emphasizing promotion of a product, service, or brand to a selected audience. Marketing relies heavily on communicating to customers and prospects to move them through the wider stages of the marketing/sales funnel – from awareness to consideration and, hopefully, to conversion.

By contrast, the sales efforts take a more immediate approach.  To salespeople it’s less important how the fish got on the hook, and much more about landing it in the boat.  Salespeople are all about conversion.  Successful sellers rely heavily on listening to prospects and customers about their needs, so they can respond in such a way as to close the immediate sale.  

survey of both sales and marketing pros identified communication as the biggest challenge to align their efforts. Studio/D’s proposed solution to this problem is to have each team adopt the other’s strong suit when engaging internally. Marketers need to listen to the needs of the sales team and the sales team needs to clearly communicate their needs to the marketers.

Seems fairly simple, doesn’t it?  

But it’s human nature for us to be zealous about the things we’re good at and defensive about what we feel intrudes on them. So, here are some “do’s and don’ts” for internal communication between marketing and sales professionals.

Marketers –

Do: Let sales teams know that a key function of yours is to be of service to them.  Ask what you can provide to tee up hot leads and to convert them to immediate sales. More importantly, listen and understand salespeople’s pain points and do what you can to make their task easier.

Don’t:  Over explain big picture goals like branding, awareness, reach, and frequency. Long-range goals don’t hold currency to those focused on immediate tasks.

Salespeople –

Do: Be honest and specific about how marketers can help generate more qualified leads and provide the information and materials to help you close more sales.

Don’t: Ignore marketers or dismiss and trivialize their efforts as unimportant or too abstract. Their goal is the health and awareness of the company, its products or services – things that make your job easier.

Tips for both –

  • Both sales and marketing teams should meet regularly to share information and brainstorm new ideas.
  • Sales managers should attend marketing meetings and marketing managers should attend sales meetings.
  • Together, sales and marketing should set shared goals.
  • Use a shared platform (Google Docs, DropBox, etc.) for content and idea brainstorming, e.g. marketers building buyer personas with direct input from sales pros.
  • Share your metrics for reporting and analysis.  Yes, you measure different things, but this is a great way of “getting into each other’s heads” without being preachy.
  • Designate specific personnel to process and qualify leads.

Lastly, consider partnering with an experienced communications agency that can help you implement all of the above. If you need a recommendation, Studio/D can help. 

Open and honest communication fosters understanding and trust.  When marketers and sales professionals demonstrate that they have each other’s back, rivalry is dispelled, true teamwork occurs and sales flourish.

By Tom Taylor, Account Advocate, Studio/D.  

Studio/D is a full-service marketing communications firm working with mid-market industrial and manufacturing clients, together with their supporting ecosystem. We’re a team of “makers” who simplify complex communication challenges with messaging that engages and drives results. Learn more about us at StudioD.agency, or reach us at 314-200-2630.