Sales and Marketing Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

Eliza Culhane on September 23, 2019

You’ve decided it’s time to invest in a marketing initiative, but your sales team is resisting your efforts to get them to participate. They’ve been doing sales for a long time and they don’t see why they need to change…especially if they feel it’s a waste of time. Sound at all familiar?

If so, then we highly recommend taking time to rethink the relationship between your marketing and sales teams.

The relationship between sales and marketing is give and take

The role of marketing is often misunderstood. The assumption that marketing is just there to feed new prospects to the sales department to turn into customers is shortsighted. Marketing should be playing a role in every step of the buyer’s journey.

A well-functioning marketing team works together with each department to provide leads, prospects, and customers with relevant, tailored content. To achieve this, there must be an ongoing conversation between marketing, sales, and the products/services teams to align messages and make the flow of the buyer’s journey as easy and natural as possible.

For instance, the sales team needs to tell marketing what questions they get asked the most. With that information, marketing can then create relevant and informative content to address common questions so that by the time a prospect talks with the sales team, they are higher qualified prospects.

Working together like this, sales can spend less time answering repetitive questions with less qualified leads and more time working with better educated prospects who are more confident and ready to buy. Walking into a conversation with more prepared prospects increases the closing ratio of qualified prospects to customers.

This sounds great, right? But here’s the deal. If the other departments don’t do their part, the marketing department loses. And so does everyone else.

  • If the sales team is not keeping marketing up-to-date with their needs and there are discrepancies between what a prospect learned from marketing and what they are learning from sales, customer trust is lost.
  • Or, if marketing is rolling out great new content on the company’s social media platforms trying to reach a greater audience, but your sales team isn’t engaging with it, the content goes nowhere and doesn’t get seen. This is especially an issue for smaller businesses with a smaller following base.
  • Or, if your marketing team is attempting to implement a CRM system that requires sales to input current data on their leads and customers, but the sales team isn’t following through, the whole system falls flat. The company loses ROI, resentment builds, and money and effort is being spent on wasted initiatives.

Building Trust

Trust is vital to helping customers through their buyer journey. When your message is consistent throughout, your company is earning the trust of its prospects and customers by following through with what it promised in the beginning. This means aligning the messaging of both marketing and sales to match up so that prospects who interact with both teams don’t find themselves asking if they’re being intentionally mislead.

But trust isn’t just important for the customer. It’s also important for the marketing and sales teams to trust each other. Establishing that both teams are working toward the same goal and are there to reinforce each other and lift each other up is vital to getting teams to participate in each other’s initiatives.

Reinforce communication

You can help your sales and marketing teams align in a number of ways. One option is to create a Service Level Agreement where both teams come together to agree on and cement goals and make commitments that will lead both teams toward meeting the company’s revenue goal.

You can also set up monthly meetings where marketing can highlight new marketing initiatives (such as campaigns promoting an event or new content offer) to the sales team to keep them up-to-date and on the same message.

For example, the sales team tells marketing that employee retention is an ongoing issue with clients and prospects. The marketing team can put together an eBook detailing ways to keep employees happy and engaged. Sales can now use the eBook to show their value to prospects by helping address a problem they’re having.

Having a meeting between the departments is also a great opportunity for marketing to learn from sales the most common reasons they lose leads to other companies and strategize about how to counteract that loss. 

Engaging leadership

This part is simple. If company leadership approves marketing initiatives but doesn’t take part, they are sending a message loud and clear that interdepartmental participation isn’t necessary. If leadership doesn’t have clear expectations that their sales team will follow through, then nothing will move forward.

It is up to leadership to hold their teams accountable. Plain and simple. Without this component, any initiative that is rolled out is dead from the get-go. Getting your sales team to interact with marketing and getting your marketing team involved with each department may be a difficult, slow process, but it could be the best thing you’ve ever done for your company.

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Photo by vvvita

 

Topics: Leadership + Management, Marketing + Branding