The sales--marketing struggle isn’t a problem with a one size fits all solution. By using a combination of education, accountability, and communication, you can help your teams come together to optimize efforts on both sides.   

So you’ve got a problem that looks something like this:  

  • I’ve been working on my marketing efforts, but I’m struggling to get my sales team on board with the new practices. 
  • We need the sales team to be entering data into our CRM so we can better track our prospects and leads, but they aren’t sticking to it.  
  • We need all our teams to participate in our social media efforts, but we’re only seeing one or two people engage.  

In the past, marketing was thought of as pamphlets and paid advertisements in magazines. Now, marketing encompasses the entire journey a buyer goes through from recognition of a pain point, to exploring options, and finally deciding how to fix it. It starts by nurturing a relationship, educating prospects, and readying them to become highly qualified leads. It prepares these prospective clients for the conversations they will have with your sales team and helps create a smooth, cohesive customer experience.  

For marketing to do its job well, it’s vital for sales and marketing to marry their goals and work together as a unit.   

First comes education 

For your sales team to want to participate, they need to see the value in what they’re being asked to do. If they don’t understand the purpose of marketing, they won’t understand the meaning of the tasks assigned to them.   

Help them to understand that marketing is doing an important job that is going to help them make sales. It is in their interest to participate in marketing. 

Effective marketing means that over time the audience your business is speaking to becomes more and more knowledgeable about what your company has to offer, how it works, what your values are—in essence, marketing is an educational tool.  

And the more educated your audience is, the more qualified they will be when they begin to approach the decision stage in their journey. When prospects already have a sense of your business, services, and what it’s like to work with you, they are more receptive to a conversation with your sales team. In effect, your conversion rates will rise, and your sales team will have to do less to get them through the door.  

Whatever it is that you’re asking your sales team to do—whether it’s inputting data or participating on social media—help them to understand the bigger picture of how their efforts will pay off for them and your company.  

Then comes commitment 

There are several ways departments can effectively communicate clear commitments to each other. One popular method is to draw up a service level agreement (SLA). An SLA is a document that specifies measurable goals and deliverables that departments are committing to providing one another. It is used to clarify duties, distribute responsibility, and create a foundation for accountability.  

Whether or not you use an SLA, your teams must come together to understand their different roles in accomplishing the goal. It may mean committing to consistent meetings, quarterly reviews, the creation of an internal process document, or a combination. But the goal is for it to result in a real commitment. 

Then comes accountability and leadership (in a baby carriage) 

Finally, for there to be real progress, you need two things.  

  1. A strong commitment to participate from someone (or multiple someones) in a leadership position.  
  2. A system to hold departments accountable for their actions (or inaction).  

This is where many agencies become stuck. Leadership doesn’t want to hold their sales team accountable for their inaction. For example, the sales team points to a slew of reasons they haven’t participated in social media or entered their data consistently, and leadership allows those reasons to become valid excuses.  

This happens for one of two reasons: 

  1. Leadership doesn’t actually see the value in marketing, and thus agrees with the sales team. If this is the case, you’ve got a more significant issue on your hands.  
  2. Leadership is uncomfortable holding their producers accountable. They don’t know how to respond when their producers refuse or sidestep their new responsibilities. If this is the case, leadership needs to create a checks-and-balances system to hold producers accountable. Whether it’s withholding something until tasks are complete, or increasing reviews, define what it is and stick to it.  

A happy family  

When you’ve successfully created a bridge between sales and marketing, you’ll see your conversion rates rise, your sales team will be answering less and less repetitive questions, and your customers will be more aligned with your company. It’s worth the (sometimes painful) effort to align your teams. But like any marriage, it requires communication, commitment, and continuous effort.  


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