At most organizations, sales and marketing teams don’t get along.
It’s a constant battle of playing the blame game.
Common things Salespeople say:
“I can’t hit my numbers because marketing didn’t drive us enough leads”
“The inbound lead quality is horrible. I’m wasting my time calling prospects that aren’t even remotely interested in what we do”
“We can’t close deals because all of our sales material is outdated, why hasn’t the marketing team updated them yet?”
“Maybe if marketing spent less time on social media, then we could actually hit our numbers”
Common things Marketers say:
“Their job is so easy, we’re essentially handing them deals that are ready to close, and they still can’t even close them.”
“The sales team isn’t following up with their leads in a timely manner, that’s why we’re not hitting our quarterly targets.”
“Our sales team doesn’t even fully understand the product or what we’re selling”
“I don’t even think sales fully understands what we do on a daily basis. They think we just play around on Facebook all day.”
But for an organization to successfully grow, sales and marketing need to be on the same page. They need to be working together towards a common goal.
In this post, I’m going to share some reasons why sales and marketing don’t get along, from a marketer’s perspective, and then share some ideas on how to go about solving this challenge.
Marketing Is Seen As A “Support Position” Instead of A “Business Driver”
This is the number one thing frustrates marketers at any company.
Because the sales team typically has revenue goals tied to the department, marketing is seen as a support position to help sales hit their goals, instead of being thought of as a unit in the business that can drive more revenue for the company.
Marketers will get told to do tasks like “create sales material for the sales team”, “make things look pretty”, and “write emails for the sales team”, instead of doing what they really should be doing for the company… driving warm leads for sales to follow up on, figuring out how to activate customers and working on improving customer retention.
If marketing in your company means making support material for sales, it means you don’t really value real marketing.
It means there is no good marketing strategy (otherwise your marketing team would be too busy executing on the strategy to create sales material). It essentially means the organization thinks real marketing is unnecessary (at worst), or is support for sales (at best).
When companies ask of these types of things from marketers, they’re stereotyping all marketers as good product marketers, designers, and sales assistants.
The only time a marketer should be doing this type of work, is if the marketer was specifically hired on for this role.
For example, a marketer with deep adwords expertise could be a GREAT asset for an early stage B2B company that really just needs to dominate ONE strategy to hit 12 month revenue goals. That channel could very well be adwords/ppc. The marketer in this role could have zero visual/graphic/sales material experience, and forcing them to do this type of work is a massive waste of a company resource.
I’ve found that marketing being seen as a support role happens when an organization is in it’s infancy and hasn’t seen marketing drive business yet; therefore they don’t know the results it can produce. Or, when the leadership team doesn’t believe in marketing because a large majority of the revenue is directly attributed to sales efforts.
Successful marketing takes time to build. While some channels can see more instantaneous results – paid ads, PR (depending), direct response, etc., running those type of campaigns successfully, takes a deep understanding of the user (which again, takes time). Most other channels will take between 1-6 months to start seeing measurable results from.
Another big challenge with marketing is quantifying its impact.
With sales, you close a deal and know exactly what the impact was. With marketing, there’s no bulletproof way to provide attribution to exactly what marketing initiatives influenced someone to buy.
Most companies still measure success on last-click attribution and don’t have a clear understanding of why someone purchased their product or service. And the solution isn’t as simple as just switching to first-click attribution.
For example, maybe the lead came from an existing client’s referral and took months for the sales rep to close, but along the way, the decision makers could have:
- Signed up for a drip sequence that helped build trust
- Saw retargeting ads that kept your company top of mind
- Read a blog post that helped convince them that they want to work with this company
It’s hard to “give marketing credit” for those things (because, to be fair, it’s hard to measure those things), but it’s really easy to give the sales rep credit for closing that deal. Therefore when allocating budgets and resources, it’s hard to make the case that marketing should get more (unless the CEO, or senior leadership, really believe in marketing).
Companies need to be cautious of how they use their marketing resources. Make sure that the tasks you’re giving their marketing team, are truly moving the needle. When there is good marketing strategy and execution happening in a company, sales typically will have the support material needed to close deals. From leads, to content, to emails, etc.
I’m sure many people can testify in the comments below, when marketing drives business for a company, it can scale 10x faster than it ever could with just a sales team.
Marketing and Sales Have Separate Goals Which Causes Them To Compete Instead of Collaborate
Another big challenge that I’ve seen working for various companies is that many times marketing and sales have different goals instead of one overarching goal. This causes the two teams to compete instead of collaborate.
In a past company I worked for, goals were based on team performance instead of company performance. This had very negative consequences for the company: politics.
The sales team was responsible for a revenue target for the company and the marketing team was responsible for driving qualified sales leads to the sales team. To make a long story short, if the sales team wasn’t close to their sales target, they would blame marketing for the lack of leads driven to them.
Even if marketing had hit the lead goals, then blame would fall on the fact that “the leads were not high enough quality to be able to close”. The blame got passed back and forth, from sales to marketing, marketing to sales, and the company ended up hurting because of it.
Sales and marketing were competing with each other instead of working towards a common goal (growing the company).
Contrast that with a really well run company that I worked for, where there was one revenue target for sales and marketing, and no one hit their goal unless the company hit its overall goal. This environment was extremely collaborative.
It wasn’t about individual team goals, it was about the two teams coming together to figure out how they could best grow the company. It required marketing being focused; not on the pure number of leads, but also the quality of them. It required sales to constantly give feedback to marketing about what’s working and what’s not working. It forced the two teams to become friends and talk with each other instead of being at odds with each other.
And when sales and marketing collaborate, it can lead to great things (20%+ y/y growth).
Sales And Marketing Don’t Communicate Enough
Sales and marketing need to talk regularly. Once a week during a forced sales and marketing meeting is not enough.
The time when I was most successful as a marketer was when I had a great relationship with my sales team. Every morning I would go and talk to the sales team to find out how their calls went the day before, what the quality of leads were like, and what the common objections were that were preventing prospects from buying.
This did three things:
- It created a feedback loop for me to be able to see where we needed improvement on the marketing front
- It showed the sales team that this is team work and that we (marketing) were committed to helping them be successful
- It gave them a better understanding of what marketing does on a daily basis
I find that often times, the biggest challenge between sales and marketing working synergistically, is a lack of understanding of each other’s role.
No joke, this was a quote I heard from a salesperson just a couple of weeks back:
Me: “Where do most of your leads come from?”
Salesperson: “This system called Marketo”
My mind was blown. I thought to myself:
“How could someone just think all of their leads just magically come from marketo?”
“Do they know that little about marketing and how it works?”
“How is a company going to be successful with salespeople that don’t even know how they acquire their leads?”
Explaining what marketers do on a daily basis, to sales, helps bridge the gap between sales and marketing.
Here’s some ideas on how to solve this problem:
Hold a lunch and learn that walks through the ins and outs of what marketing will be doing on a monthly basis. Go into the strategy, the thought behind the campaigns, and even the systems if need be. At the lunch and learn from the sales sales side, have sales share what channels are performing the best, details about what goes on in their phone conversations, and what’s working and not working from a sales perspective
Pair marketers with a buddy on the sales team and have them chat with each other on a daily or weekly basis.
Have marketers sit in on sales conversations so they can better understand the talking points and what happens on sales conversations. Many times when doing this, I’ve found out that sales and marketing aren’t on the same page. Marketing has certain talking points and sales has others. When this misalignment happens, it causes prospects to get confused and go purchase from someone else. Tackling how to best sell through the buyer’s journey as a team, will have the best impact on the bottom line.
When marketing and sales are talking regularly, that’s where the best ideas come from.
The Real Problem: Senior Leadership Views Sales As The More Important Function
The biggest problem overall is when senior leadership gives more importance to one function over the other.
This tweet can be interpreted in multiple ways. Marketing being BUILT for sales, to me, implies that sales is more important than marketing.
Having worked for a few companies that have operated this way, I can tell you that if this is your mindset about marketing, you’re likely causing friction in your company and you’re hindering your company’s growth potential.
While sales brings the deals through the door, marketing, when done correctly, can bring in deals that are pretty much ready to sign on the dotted line. Or even without sales people at all (SaaS).
The same goes the other way around. At the early stages of a startup, sales usually drives the growth alone and marketers are usually hired on later to help it scale (not the best way to do this in my opinion… but that’s for another post).
Fortunately, I interpreted the tweet incorrectly and he meant that sales and marketing should get along.
The best outcome for a company is when marketing and sales work in tandem and are completely aligned with each other. They are of equal importance.
Hopefully, now knowing why marketing and sales don’t get along, you now can recognize weaknesses in your current system, and work on making the appropriate changes to make sure that sales and marketing work together towards your company’s success.
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