I have been selling for a fairly long time (over 12 years to be exact) and in that time I have seen plenty of wars between the marketing and sales staff. I can recall some meetings between the two departments that were so intense that it reminded me of the last fight scene in Rocky (pick one). Lumps and bruises aside, I have rarely seen the two departments see eye-to-eye.
Even so, there has always been an important connection between marketing’s activities and the efforts of sales. In order to support long-term growth for an organization, it is crucial to have buy-in from both parties. Also, Marketing plays a crucial role in lead generation. I recently hit a roadblock when attempting to unify both departments towards a common goal. A room full of sales people and marketing associates? I should have brought a referee in with me. Needless to say the meeting went off track and very little was accomplished.
Marketing and Sales Staff: “He Said, She Said”
“Marketing is out of touch with the customer and doesn’t understand their needs. We interact with customers everyday, we should be listened to more.”
“We see emerging markets and instead of focusing our advertising in those areas, we waste money and resources on delivering the same old message to the same old market.”
“Sales is too focused on individual experiences and doesn’t see the big picture.”
“We need to continue to build our reputation in our current market while slowly expanding out to others. Sales people confuse chatter with market analysis.”
Regardless of what had been said, I was not giving up. I took a step back for a minute and recalled my experience from Criteria for Success. One of the initiatives we put in place for our clients was a strategic Sales and Marketing team. This team would be made up of representatives from each department who meet monthly to identify projects that would help the company achieve growth. There was also a system for assigning tasks and holding each member accountable.
That’s when it hit me! Structure. That’s exactly what we needed. Instead of having a Royal Rumble of participants from Sales and Marketing, I could select a few members from each side.
Fast-forward two weeks later to Round 2. I opened the meeting with some of the feedback that was shared last time and then talked about the goal of us working together.
Leading by example, I decided to extend the olive branch. I spoke about how necessary Marketing was to our efforts in Sales and focused on all of the positive lead generating functions in which they were currently engaged. This instantly started lowering defenses and set a tone of collaboration. You could clearly see the breakthrough, as participants were ready to stop bickering and start rolling up their sleeves.
In my later blogs, I will outline what we accomplished together as a team. For now, I am excited that we have been engaged in the process over the last couple of months and have shown forward momentum.
How do you keep your Marketing and Sales staff on the same page?