Smarketing: How to Improve Collaboration Between Marketing and Sales (And Why It Matters)

Written by: Munira Fareed on 1/21/16 5:21 PM


When you think of famous rivalries, what comes to mind? Montagues and Capulets. Coke and Pepsi. Tesla and Edison. Marketing and Sales?

In spite of working toward the same ultimate goal – it can often feel like the two main departments tasked with helping businesses create new revenue are at odds. It may be an exaggeration to refer to it as a “rivalry,” but most people who work in either department have likely at least sensed an unhelpful disconnect between the two, if not something more adversarial.

Why can’t marketing and sales just get along?

Why Marketing and Sales Are Often Detached

A big part of the problem is simply that the two are in different departments, focused on different tasks, tactics, and metrics. Marketing is concerned about broader goals like brand awareness and authority, whereas sales is focused on helping leads cross that final line to become customers. Each department has been trained in different techniques, believes strongly in the value of what they’re doing, and doesn’t intuitively see the value in what the other does.

Adding to that, the fields attract different personality types. Salespeople are focused on relationship building. They’re usually extroverts who do a lot of their work on the phone or outside of the office, working directly with other people.

A marketing department, on the other hand, is often made up largely of creative types who do much of their work in front of a computer and rarely interact directly with the people on the other end of it. Instead of seeing an immediate response to their marketing campaigns in the faces of their audience, they interpret marketing analytics that provide an idea of how people are responding.

Both departments know there’s a limited amount of money to go around. When the company’s executives sit down to parcel out the budget each year, the two departments are in competition. When everything’s going well and the company’s growing, that may not be an issue. If things start to get tight and there are cuts, both are likely to look askew at the money the other side’s getting.

And then there’s the blame game. Both marketing and sales are held accountable for bringing in new business. If the company isn’t meeting its goals for new sales, when executives come calling for an explanation, the obvious place for marketing to point the finger is at sales and vice versa.

As a result, instead of working together, sales and marketing often view each other as competition. That’s not just bad for the company; it does a disservice to both departments, each of which can be made stronger by working with the other.

Why Marketing and Sales Must Work Together

The most obvious reason is simply that they’re both working toward the same thing. You want to reach the same people in order to create the same results. And both teams have knowledge that the other can benefit from.

When marketing and sales start to work together, success becomes circular: marketing sends leads to sales, sales learns more about which leads are most valuable and what they respond to, they send that information back to marketing, marketing refines their efforts accordingly, and they send more and better leads back to sales as a result.

One of the biggest goals marketers have is working to understand their audience. Sales has that down because they talk to them every day. One of the biggest challenges salespeople face is having enough leads to accomplish the sales volume they need. Effective marketing produces enough leads to solve that problem, and good marketing data can give salespeople the information they need to vet those leads effectively and approach them more efficiently.

With more communication between departments, processes run more smoothly. Leads get helped along to the sale more quickly. And results improve. Drastically. Companies that have sales and marketing teams that work together have 208% more revenue than those that don’t.

How to Make it Happen

Improving relations between your marketing and sales departments to the point where they’re actively working together and collaborating requires both a cultural shift and some changes to your technology infrastructure. Here are some steps you can take to move the process forward.

Use the demand waterfall model to improve and clarify lead definitions.

If sales gets leads that aren’t worth their time, that fuels the perception that marketing isn’t providing value and contributes to breeding resentment between the departments. If you make sure both departments are using and familiar with the demand waterfall model, you’ll provide clarity on what’s considered a lead that’s worthy of being bumped up to the sales part of the process.

When marketing starts taking the time to qualify leads before they go to sales, both teams benefit. Marketing will end up with a clearer picture of how well their campaigns are paying off –the full number of leads is a less valuable metric than the number of qualified leads – and sales will end up with better leads that are more worth their time.

Make sure goals are aligned.

Naturally, that final goal of bringing in new business is the same for both departments, but make sure all the goals that lead up to that final one are in alignment for both departments. This relates back to the demand waterfall –if marketers are rewarded for producing a high volume of leads, but your sales team finds that most of them aren’t valuable and end up wasting their time, your two departments will have goals that are out of line.  If you have a market development function that works to set up meetings for the sales team, make sure their compensation is tied both to the number of meetings and the revenue the sales team brings in.

Make sure the goals that both departments have are designed to support the other department and ultimately lead to higher sales and revenue for your company.

Track leads throughout the full buyer’s journey.

Almost all of your leads will come into contact with your marketing materials before they become a customer, usually several times. In many cases though, marketing only sees the lead as one of the 5,000 views on a post or 3,000 clicks on a PPC ad, without having the means to connect that specific view or click to the lead that proceeds further into the buyer’s journey.

Sales will never recognize the role you’re playing in helping send valuable leads their way if you aren’t able to show the connection between your marketing analytics and the contacts that turn into sales. And you won’t really know your contribution either, for that matter. If you invest in a powerful enough marketing performance management solution, you’ll be able to connect marketing touchpoints and campaign responses to all contacts associated with opportunities.

Share knowledge between departments.

Encourage and make it easy for departments to share information. Set up frequent meetings to discuss recent results and anything new each team has learned. Have sales provide insights into customers based on their experiences. Have marketing share the insights they’ve gleaned from the results of their recent campaigns.

Make sure all of the software products your teams regularly use are integrated, so they have shared information like metrics, goals, and calendars easily accessible at all times.

Make feedback between your teams easy. Sales should have a simple process for being able to let marketing know if there’s any issue with the quality of leads they’re receiving. And marketing should be able to provide any data and insights they have on specific leads that could be useful to the assigned salesperson without too much effort.  Marketing team members should feel ownership of the leads they help create, from the time the lead turns into a customer all the way until the customer turns into an advocate. 

With the right technology and plan in place, achieving the impressive results that can come with improved sales and marketing alignment is within reach for your business.  If you’d like more information on how marketing performance management software can help, let’s talk.

Icon made by Freepik from is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Topics: Hive9