Columnist Rachel Balik examines the sometimes tenuous relationship between Marketing and Sales. Can’t we all just get along?
When you bump into a member of your sales team at the coffee machine, you probably manage to have civil conversations about safe topics like the weather, sports teams and just how bad the coffee really is.
But behind closed doors, you know there’s a possibility they’re talking about how badly your team is doing. While they probably don’t hate you as a person, they’re not easy to please on a professional level. It’s easy to let tensions escalate and react by mudslinging. After all, the sales team isn’t perfect, either!
However, the unfortunate reality of true conflict resolution is that to do it, you first need to really understand your opponent’s position. If you listen before you get defensive, you might discover that these issues are easier to resolve than you think.
You Flood Them With Leads They Don’t Want
Almost all marketers can relate to the feeling of busting their butts all quarter and knocking the monthly qualified leads (MQL) goal out of the park only to hear sales complain about how they never get any support from marketing. Meanwhile, marketers don’t understand why the sales team isn’t even bothering to follow up on those “great” leads.
Although the idea of a MQL was a great breakthrough in terms of formalizing and organizing the lead generation process, we haven’t perfected it yet. With the rise of marketing automation technology, the emphasis on lead gen has grown faster than might be right for the goals of the business overall.
Given that it’s been somewhat of a marketing-driven movement, it’s not surprising that the needs of the sales team have been neglected. As it turns out, your definition of “qualified” is not their definition of qualified.
In fact, Sales is focusing most of their energy on key accounts they know they want to close. Unless you can help them break into those accounts, you’re just overwhelming them with unnecessary noise.
You Celebrate After They’ve Had A Bad Quarter
Although both teams fall under the “revenue” department, their goals are often surprisingly misaligned. It’s not uncommon for Marketing to celebrating all their great wins in the same quarter when Sales has missed their revenue goals.
The problem is that most marketing metrics don’t translate into meaningful outcomes for sales. More booth scans, more website traffic, more tweets… they’re all exciting outcomes for marketing, but as it turns out, more isn’t always better.
If your metrics don’t match up to progress with the specific accounts they’re targeting, your success doesn’t mean anything to sales.
You Don’t Invite Them To Your Brainstorms
As marketers, we spend a lot of time generating ideas. We go offsite so we can be creative, and we tend to focus our energy on making things engaging and entertaining. But from Sales’ perspective, while we’re running off to get our creative juices flowing, they’re back at the office, on the phones, working in Salesforce and just trying to sell.
The real problem isn’t who gets to have more fun (there are probably arguments on both sides). It’s that Sales is in the field gaining understand of the market and your customers while you’re at an offsite hoping that some combination of divine inspiration and peanut M&Ms will help you produce the perfect message.
That’s not to negate your strong talents or the magical powers of chocolate, but the truth is, Sales is a valuable resource when it comes to knowing what customers are doing and thinking, not to mention how they’re reacting to your current messages.
You’re More Worried About Attribution Than Revenue
Marketers must work hard to prove their value, but as a result, Sales often feels like marketing is taking too much credit. In most cases, marketing owns about 5% of the buying cycle, but, if just so happens that a marketing event or email was the last touch, they get credit for the lead.
In fact, there’s a lot of work done by both teams that goes into moving a prospect through the funnel. It’s not that marketing hasn’t contributed, it’s just that if you’re trying to prove your value as a team and improve your strategies over time, you need a lot of detailed information and data.
Current attribution models tend to be fuzzy at best, with marketers scrambling to check boxes and hit their numbers while Sales is left to fill in the blanks and close deals. This is fine as long as marketing doesn’t aspire to play more than a supporting role and never aspires to truly earn the trust of sales.
If Marketing wants respect, it needs the same goal as everyone else: revenue generation.
You Ditch Them When The Going Gets Tough
Another problem with marketing metrics is that they’re intensely focused on the top of the funnel, which is why there are quarters when marketing is celebrating despite poor sales performance. Marketing tends to deliver their MQLs and move on to the next round of anonymous leads, but Sales actually needs support throughout the entire funnel.
In B2B, the sales cycle is long and there are anywhere from four to seven stakeholders who need to sign off on an average deal. Even after sales has made contact, they need marketing’s help to drive awareness and education among all the stakeholders.
That means running ongoing nurturing campaigns, delivering targeted ads and creating great and relevant content for every stage of the buying cycle. It also means communicating with sales and integrating CRM data into your plans.
Sales needs your help, but ultimately, you need the insight they have about their accounts and territories in order to truly accelerate the process.
We Can Work It Out
While this list of grievances seems substantial, it’s not insurmountable. Meet with Sales early and often to define your shared goals and make sure the process remains collaborative throughout the entire buying cycle.
Not only will it make work a little more pleasant, it will actually improve your company’s overall results.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.