It's every company's nightmare scenario, and an all-too-common one. The sales team doesn't "get" what the marketing team is up to, and the marketing team doesn't appreciate the sales team's efforts either. But without one, the other can't function. Here are some things you can do to get these teams seeing eye to eye.
Getting on the Same Page
In some cases, marketing materials can be a source of contention between marketing and sales teams. Barbara Fowler of the executive outsourcing firm, Chief Outsiders, relates her own experience in dealing with a disconnect between these two parties at a Polish finance company.
She states the salespeople were claiming that they received insufficient resources from the marketing staff, while the marketing staff reported that the marketing materials were fine -- the salespeople just weren't using them properly. This mutual finger-pointing did nothing to resolve the issues at hand, and it wasn't until both groups began thinking as a single team that they could productively move forward.
Understanding the Differing Timelines
One of the reasons sales and marketing teams have trouble empathizing with each other involves the very different timelines each type of professional operates under.
According to the technology marketing research firm OneStopClick, marketers are so used to focusing on the long game of brand building and market expansion that they have trouble relating to salespeople's fixation on short-term transactions, and vice versa. Fowler adds that a marketer might accuse a sales rep of making "only" ten calls without understanding how involved, exhausting, and ultimately profitable those calls can be.
To bridge this "temporal divide," make sure each team grasps how the other feeds its goals -- how today's marketing plans turn into tomorrow's sales, and how short-term sales offer valuable course correction for marketing strategies.
Turning Stalled Leads into Marketing Fodder
Salespeople need pre-qualified leads to generate a steady stream of sales, and marketers need data on how well or poorly those leads are working out for the salespeople. Cold leads will fail to perform for the salespeople, and OneStopClick notes that these cold leads tend to get shoved into limbo and more or less given up on. This may occur because the salespeople feel obliged to use whatever marketers send them, but the lack of communication that results is bad for both groups.
To mend this communication breakdown, emphasize to salespeople the need to kick those withered leads back to the marketing department so the marketers can try different tactics to warm them up again. At the same time, emphasize to marketers the value of these stalled leads as fodder for the company's overall big data. What's working, and what isn't? Answering these questions will aid both marketing and sales.
Two Departments Under One Roof
A unified point of view may call for a more unified business structure. Elaine Wong, writing for Forbes, states that advances in social selling and Web analytics have already taken down one important wall between marketing and sales -- namely, accountability. While sales teams have always had their work scrutinized in terms of units sold, total income and other straightforward numbers, marketing ROI has traditionally been nebulous at best.
But now that modern analytics and big data techniques have quantified marketing results to a degree, these two teams can communicate more productively on the level of dollars and cents. Even more important for mutual understanding and empathy, however, may be the integration of marketing and sales into a single machine. Wong quotes Best Western marketing and sales VP Dorothy Dowling's opinion that both sales and marketing should be accountable to a single person to ensure a team perspective.
You can also have representatives from each team sit in on the other team's periodic meetings and pep talks so everyone understands how everyone else feels about current and future challenges.