Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams in 5 Easy Steps

Author: 
Steve Randazzo

Any marketer worth his or her salt knows you have to understand your audience members before you can engage them. But the most important audience you have isn’t potential partners or customers – it’s the folks on your sales team.

If your sales team doesn’t buy into your marketing, its members will struggle to sell, and business will falter. Because of this, collaboration between the two groups should be a top priority.

There’s just one problem: Even though their goals are more or less the same, it’s pretty common for sales and marketing departments to butt heads. It doesn’t really help that Type A personalities tend to fill leadership roles in both departments. With their strong opinions and motivations, it’s no doubt that these types can move the needle. But this also presents certain struggles. After all, we know that their competitive egos can stunt teamwork.

This isn’t just anecdotal, either. Per a 2018 InsideView report, 28% of leaders in sales feel they can do their marketing colleagues’ jobs better than them, and 23% of marketers think they can outperform their peers in sales. When you have sales employees who think marketing is a waste of time and marketing employees who think they deserve the credit for salespeople’s success, then you end up with a less-than-stellar environment. In fact, it’s a rather toxic one.

When Collaboration Beats Competition

The solution? Help these two departments see each other as collaborators, rather than competitors. Both sides can contribute equally to the conversation. And when there’s synergy, amazing things happen. It’s as simple as that.

There’s concrete proof that companies with strong alignment between sales and marketing reap significant financial rewards. Every year, the average company spends a combined $21,600 on sales enablement and training per representative. But when companies have alignment between players in sales and marketing, they can earn an extra $260,000 per rep each year.

The teams can teach each other important qualitative lessons, too. Marketers, for instance, can show salespeople how to frame the emotional value of what they’re selling, and sales team members can fill in marketers on common customer concerns and misconceptions.

So how can you create that genuine bond between sales and marketing teams? Here are a few pointers:

1. Start from the top. Each department should support the other as well as the company’s best interests. Before big company initiatives, sales and marketing leaders should sit down to brainstorm and talk strategy. Instead of coming up with sales and marketing approaches that live on two remote islands — and expecting them to join forces — plan them so that they can coexist. One detailed, collaborative plan is much more effective than two completely isolated ones.

Once the sales and marketing leaders agree on process, get the rest of the teams in the same room in order to present it. Both teams can carry out their work with confidence thanks to upfront buy-in.

2. Get the sales team’s brutally honest feedback. Don’t assume you know what the sales team needs. Instead, just ask its members point-blank.

It’s better to ask about their roadblocks and provide creative branded content and collateral that addresses those themes. If this conversation doesn’t happen, the marketing team will create material that doesn’t solve actual problems — then wonder why it’s never used. As awesome as the material might be, it’s meaningless if it isn’t strategic.

For example, salespeople might say: “We’re struggling to reach more single moms” or “We really need a way to convey a certain message more clearly.” Start with the problems and work toward solutions together. If they feel like their issues are taken seriously, they’re much more likely to back marketing initiatives and cheer you on in return.

3. Marie Kondo your marketing materials. Is the marketing collateral you create easy to find? It is organized, or does the sales team have to dig endlessly to find it? Marketing materials don’t have to spark joy in the way that your household items do, but they should all serve a specific purpose, elicit an intended emotion, and be easy to access.

Think of it this way: If you don’t make marketing materials easy to find, use, and consume, how can you expect people in sales to do so?

4. Communicate — for better or for worse. When all is said and done, sales and marketing departments are part of a team. So if a strategy isn’t working out as planned, be sure to draw up possible solutions together.

Monthly or quarterly communication that shows off new opportunities and information from the marketing team is one way to avoid rifts. It ensures sales folks know what’s available to them and what’s in the pipeline, and it provides areas in which both teams can work together.

5. Celebrate together. Sales can’t make it without marketing, and marketing can’t make it without sales. If your CEO praises a marketing project, marketing should also recognize the part sales played in making it successful. So when there’s a win, it’s key to celebrate that victory together. This creates a culture where everyone’s work — however different it might be — is appreciated.

While the marketing team looks to reach target audiences and engage them, sales gets those people to buy over and over again. These are two different approaches to increasing revenue, but they need each other to survive. To see success, both departments have to work in tandem and show respect for one another. Anything less, and you’re holding each other back.

Steve Randazzo is the founder and president of Pro Motion, Inc., a trusted, award-winning experiential marketing agency located in St. Louis since 1995.