Helping Sales and Marketing Bridge Their Gaps

Getting Sales and Marketing Teams on Same Page

There has always been a bit of a disconnect between sales and marketing. One wants to build the brand and expand the channels, while the other needs solid leads and has to focus on the next sale. But there are ways to bridge this gap. A research provider called Aberdeen Group writes, “New marketing and sales effectiveness tools have emerged that address this disconnect, but success must begin with a revamped process and a new understanding of how marketing can effect its goals in businesses where direct sales is the primary communication channel to customers.”

At this past summer’s SIPA UK Conference in London, Michelle Godwin, the information and delegate sales director for Incisive Media Limited, presented a session titled, “Friends or foes: sales and marketing, can they love one another?” Here are 11 points from that session:

1. For a starting point, agree how the relationship is going to work. (Who is in charge of whom?) When Godwin took over her group at Incisive nearly four years ago, the marketing team felt they owned the sales team, and the sales team was there for anything from selling to manning a stand at an exhibition. Roles need to be made clear.

2. Agree on methods of communication and feedback. Marketing people like to be kept in the loop constantly. Sales people tend to hate detail and writing reports. Agree on a regular catch-up (outside core selling time) and stick to it.

3. If possible set a joint incentive. Having two people focused on the same commercial goal works every time. Encourage the two people to work together and incentivise them with quarterly targets.

4. Acknowledge that all relationships take a lot of work. You may not have got it right in the first instance and you may need to adapt early agreements.

5. Understand what makes one another tick. (Money vs. spreadsheets.) Sales people tend to be paid less than marketing in their basic salary so hitting their commission targets is everything to them. Marketing people tend to love spreadsheets.

6. When it comes to leads for sales people, quality not quantity works every time. If you send a sales person a list of 500 people to call and the data has missing phone numbers and the job titles are irrelevant, the sales person will lose faith in the marketer. So be accurate.

7. Celebrate success. If targets are achieved, then allow the sales and marketing persons to regale a bit. Also make them talk about why that campaign worked well in particular.

8. Change it up some. Sales people like variety as selling on the phone is the hardest method of selling. If a relationship is not working, mix it up. Conversely, if a relationship is working well, give the team more to do or change the products they are working on.

9. Put your best people on your biggest products and stretch them. Set them extra targets for over-exceeding.

10. Where appropriate and applicable, get the sales person involved in product development/budget setting/new strategy. Sales people will be more likely to be motivated if they feel they are being listened to. No one talks to the market place as much as they do.

11. The idea that sales and marketing can work well together has to come from the top down. The manager’s role is crucial; the way he or she behaves towards marketing/sales will often be emulated by the teams. So building cohesion can be done, but it takes a lot of time and care.


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