— October 12, 2017
The schism between sales and marketing departments is a long-standing one that many businesses still struggle to bridge. While there will often be times the two do not agree, it’s incumbent to reduce the rift if a business hopes to compete, accelerate growth, and increase revenue. Why? Research shows that those who work to align marketing and sales improve ROI by up to 20 percent.
Stop the Blame Game
It’s a divide everyone is familiar with, but why it has persisted for so long isn’t always easy to understand. After all, aren’t the two departments working towards the same goal? The underlying tension does nothing to create or amplify value for the customer, so why do they do it? Some suggest it’s due to the inherent competitiveness that exists in all sales organizations. Whatever it is, the time has come for the mindset to change so that both teams join together to best serve the customer.
Reducing the Rift
For years, sales and marketing teams have walked different paths with contrasting strategies:
- Marketing uses long-term campaigns that focus on brand recognition and lead nurturing.
- Sales teams move at a faster pace and focus on finding quick solutions for a customer’s problems.
As is often the case, it’s the customer that is forcing the two teams to get along. Today’s customers are mobile, connected, and far too informed to tolerate conflicting messages from the same brand. Marketing and sales must work as one to encourage an audience to engage with and trust a brand enough to become loyal customers.
There are several ways companies can begin to breach the divide:
- Institute shared definitions so all team members are speaking the same language. What is a contact, qualified lead, or growth opportunity? Does everyone see the buyer’s journey in the same way? If the two departments are talking at cross-purposes it prevents your organization from reaching its goals.
- Have regular meetings. Communication, as always, is key to people understanding each other. There should be agreed-upon topics and hard data that supports points of view. Weekly meetings with the entire teams is ideal, with smaller informal meetings happening in between. For the formal meetings, mix up the seating instead of having the two sides face off as if they were going to battle.
- Educate each team about what the other one does. Have team members spend time in their “rival’s” department, so they better understand another point of view. Traditionally, sales and marketing positions have attracted different personalities. For example, marketers tend to be highly analytical and data-oriented. Those who choose sales tend to be people-oriented and are skilled at building relationships. Teams should switch their focus from competing to understanding the mutual benefits their two unique efforts produce.
Creating an alliance between sales, marketing, and the customer is the difference between mediocre and stellar sales. Marketing and sales alignment is not complicated, it just requires a willingness to accept the changes necessary for the arrangement to work.