How Executives Can Bridge the Gap Between Marketing and Sales

How Executives Can Bridge the Gap Between Marketing and Sales

 

It’s widely understood that marketing and sales teams are prone to data silos and can have a hard time seeing each other as teammates. At some companies, the animosity between marketing and sales can be so strong that it rivals any negative feelings about the actual competition. 

 

Though having these two integral areas work together is becoming more of a priority, there’s still a large disconnect. In 2017, Televerde surveyed more than 200 sales professionals, 38% of whom characterized their relationship with marketing as “hit or miss.” 

 

This unpredictability takes a toll on your bottom line. Organizations, where sales and marketing teams work closely together, have 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales close rates than other organizations. In other words, misalignment between sales and marketing teams results in fewer sales and a longer pipeline — not to mention the hit to morale when teams don’t feel like they can trust other people in the company. 

 

As an executive, your mission is clear: Align your marketing and sales teams in order to improve your bottom line and employee satisfaction. Here are some things to consider as you go.

 

What Causes the Disconnect Between Marketing and Sales?

 

First, you should investigate the issues within your workforce — but I urge you to go beyond the surface level of the answers you get. 

 

Ask sales and marketing teams what their biggest challenges are in aligning. According to Televerde’s research, the top three challenges they’ll give you are: 

 

  • Lack of regular communication
  • Differences in how sales and marketing successes are measured
  • The lead qualification process

 

Of course, it’s good to fix miscommunication issues between your teams by getting them to meet regularly, but if your company isn’t addressing the deeper issues at play, the relationship between sales and marketing will still be tenuous. 

 

Many times, we’ve seen that the issues between marketing and sales come from a deeper root issue, such as the following:

Marketing Is Seen as a Sales Support Function 

 

Does your company have a marketing executive in leadership discussions? If not, that’s a sure sign that marketing is taking a backseat to sales and isn’t taken seriously as a driver of revenue. 

 

Marketers get frustrated when they’re seen only as support to the sales team. They do much more than provide sales with communications materials; there’s no question that sales materials are important, but so is marketing’s more analytical and strategic work to improve customer retention, personalize the buyer’s journey, and develop the company brand. 

 

Strategic marketing activities impact a company’s revenue too, but many times marketing’s role in the profitability of a company is not fully understood. Marketers can quickly become frustrated if all they’re asked to do is format sales brochures and edit PowerPoint presentations.

 

Team Goals Are Individual and Not Linked to Company Goals

 

Next up: Are your teams aware of, and working synergistically toward company goals? If your sales and marketing teams are working only towards different, department-specific goals, you’ve basically put them into competition with each other.  

 

A much better approach is to unite sales and marketing teams by having shared goals. By bridging the gap between sales and marketing departments, they will become much more cooperative, as they understand they’re working towards the same goal.

 

Senior Leadership Prioritizes One Over the Other (Hint: It’s Usually Sales)

 

Attitudes at the top of a company have a way of trickling down, and employees know if one department is the favourite child. Understandably, this is not a recipe for a collaborative working environment.

 

You may believe your company values each department equally, but here’s one surefire way to find out: Pull out your budget. Money talks, and if one department has a much larger budget than the other, that tells you everything you need to know. 

 

How to Align Sales and Marketing

 

Now that we’ve identified the primary causes of misalignment between marketing and sales, we can examine some of the ways to fix them. I encourage you to start garnering ideas by going straight to the source. Ask your teams: What would help you work together better? What can our executives do to make sure sales and marketing are equally valued at our company? 

 

Create Shared Goals and Strategies

 

I mentioned it above, but it bears repeating: Creating shared goals for your marketing and sales goals is essential. And aligning marketing and sales teams together improve effectiveness. Executives can speak to the idea of everyone being on the same team and part of the same family, but shared goals are what make it truly happen.

 

The executive team should help marketing and sales teams develop:

 

  • Shared revenue goals
  • A list of target accounts and/or customer personas
  • Shared customer retention and engagement goals

 

Combining the forces of these two teams can help your company reach your financial goals, create more informed customer personas than one team would’ve developed, and come up with a clearer idea of how to keep your customers satisfied. 

 

Consider Creating a Service-Level Agreement

 

You’re likely familiar with a service-level agreement (SLA) as a contract between a business and their client. But SLAs can also provide clarity of roles for sales and marketing teams within a company. 

 

A simple agreement outlining which team is responsible for what, and in what timeframe, will go a long way toward eliminating misunderstandings between the teams. Make sure to spell out key responsibilities in the lead nurturing and prospect processes to start; ask your teams what other processes and responsibilities should be included in the agreement. 

 

Adopt Technology That Works for Both Teams

 

Using the same technology makes working together so much easier. Data sharing, lead generation and nurturing, defined KPIs, customer conversion and customer retention — all of this gets significantly more difficult if your teams aren’t using the same technology. 

 

With all the solutions out there, there’s no excuse not to adopt technology that works for everyone. At RelationEdge, we use Salesforce CRM and Marketing Automation products, as they combined have features that help our sales and marketing team do their best work together. 

 

Communication is Key 

 

If the only marketing and salespeople that regularly talk to each other are leaders, your company has a problem. Consider having regular cross-department meetings so teams can regularly touch base. Consider marketing and sales employees’ desks in the same area so they share the same water cooler and can easily pop over to chat in person. It will go a long way in encouraging communication and helping each team understand what the other does. 

 

When it comes to marketing and sales, your company doesn’t need to be a house divided. Get your marketing department and sales teams on the same side with shared goals, agreement about who is responsible for what, technology that works for everyone, and regular meetings to encourage communication — and watch your company culture and bottom-line benefit.

Matt Stoyka

Matt Stoyka is the Founder and CEO of RelationEdge, a Rackspace company. Matt has more than 20 years of experience helping to grow businesses in both the technology services and manufacturing industries.

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