Sales and Marketing: What’s the Beef?

On a recent trip to my home state of New Jersey, I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. We caught up and eventually started talking about our careers. 

Benjamin Pitman

Benjamin Pitman

After I explained my role in sales of content marketing solutions for ScribbleLive, his response was, “How do you sell for a marketing company? Those are two business units that never mix. I don’t think I know one person’s name on the marketing team.”

Now, I don’t run into this dynamic in my role, but I asked myself: “What IS the real problem between Sales and Marketing?”

With that in mind, I found a great 2018 report from InsideView that outlined the state of Sales and Marketing Alignment.

3 Major Sales & Marketing Alignment Problems

The report showed three major sales and marketing alignment problems:

  1. Communication: The two departments don’t talk enough and can’t seem to align their goals.

  2. Lead Gen: Sales feels like they don’t get enough quality leads.

  3. Content: Sales needs more sales enablement content/collateral in order to arm them with the information needed to have more informed conversations with their prospects.

If you’re in sales and face these problems, keep reading. If you’re in marketing and want to improve your relationship with sales, keep reading.

If you’ve gotten this far in the blog post, then keep reading.

Here are my tips to help improve the overall alignment within your business development departments.

How Can We Improve Our Communication?

If you surveyed every employee in marketing and sales, my bet would be that finding ways to bring more money to the business would be the top priority. Find a way to create a culture between the departments that aligns revenue goals, and the relationship will improve.

Tip from a Sales Guy: Hold a “full transparency” meeting where teams from sales, marketing, and leadership get in the same room. Using a round robin approach, each team member openly discusses what they need from their marketing or sales counterparts.

Once everyone has said their piece, create aligned goals around generating revenue. Consider using joint incentives/prizes, as it will help the two departments work towards a common goal and encourage cross-functional relationships.

Tip from an Expert: “Marketing and sales have traditionally lived in two separate silos, only popping their heads up every once in a while to complain or give the other a list of demands.  A powerful way to get out of the rut is to have regular meetings every two or three weeks between a few key players from each team (top performers, managers, or directors).”
David J.P. Fisher, author of Hyper-Connected Selling and President of RockStar Consulting

How Can We Create Better Leads?

I don’t think I’ve ever met a salesperson who was ecstatic about the number of qualified sales leads they received. In my own experience, I would rather receive ten qualified sales leads than to wake up with my inbox full of unqualified leads.

The more data marketing teams provide sales about a prospect, the better. But how can this be done beyond adding more fields to an already lengthy gate?

My answer is by using interactive content. Help surface lead quality, so that higher quality leads are surfaced to sales more readily with rich insights into content engagement.

Korn Ferry repurposed whitepapers into an assessment.

Korn Ferry repurposed whitepapers into an assessment.

Tip from a Sales Guy: Hold a meeting between sales and marketing in which you discuss the top 10 questions that are being asked on discovery calls. Armed with that feedback, look to repurpose a long form whitepaper or a benchmark report into an assessment. Once you have this data and build the assessment (ask me for help on how to do this), you’re well on your way to accelerating the sales cycle.

Tip from an Expert: "At the end of day, these are human issues. Sales and marketing are run by people. You need to ensure that there are strong relationships between those teams. This can be achieved through intensive coaching or by placing both functions under the same person."
Allen Gannett, CEO at TrackMaven

What Content Should We Create?

There is nothing more powerful in sales than having the right type of content to deliver to prospects before and after calls.

Businesses want their salespeople focused on selling—not spending time writing emails about their products or creating slide decks. Provide your sales team with content that will set them up for success and watch the relationship improve.

Tip from a Sales Guy: Consider creating persona-specific content that your sales teams are targeting. Personalized content is king for a reason. Work with sales to understand who they’re targeting and what type of messaging will resonate with the prospect.

Tip from an Expert: “The marketers can ride shotgun on sales meetings, then capture all the questions asked by the prospects. They can then create content that answers those questions, which the sales team can pass along to prospects the next time around.”
Andy Crestodina, CMO and Co-Founder, Orbit Media

Summary from a Sales Guy

In short, it’s time that Sales and Marketing get along. My hope is these three tips kick off your collaborative conversations to help reach the top priority: making money.

And by the way, if you read this far, join us August 29th as we discuss Creating Better Revenue, and get caught up on the rest of the ion “Better” series here.