Just like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Ren and Stimpy, and Batman and Robin, sales and marketing are an iconic duo that should never be separated. When working in unison, sales and marketing can be an unstoppable force. They can bring a more cohesive company culture, shorter sales cycles, better-qualified leads, happier customers, an increase in revenue, and a more streamlined sales process. At least, that’s the hope.
Unfortunately for most companies, however, this reasonable fantasy is far from a reality. For small companies and billion-dollar enterprises alike, the struggle between sales and marketing is real.
It doesn't have to be such an epic struggle, though. And fortunately, it's a common obstacle many companies are working to overcome. Getting the two teams to work in unison can be easy if you know what to do. If you're looking to create interdepartmental harmony and align the sales and marketing departments toward a common goal, here are four steps you should take.
1. Unite your teams with communications reform
One quick win is to make sure everyone is speaking the same language. For example, both teams should have uniform terms for things like leads, such as marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs).
MQLs are based on internet activity that the marketing team looks at to determine if someone is likely to be a customer. An SQL is often an MQL that has been properly vetted, researched, and deemed ready for the next step in the sales pipeline.
Speaking of the sales pipeline, make sure that both sales and marketing are looking at the same funnel so everyone is on the same page. Using the same terminology, the same funnel, and ensuring that leads are scored properly are all crucial to getting the teams aligned and keeping them transparent with each other. That transparency helps hold each team accountable to the other, and unifies them toward their common goal.
To help solidify these details, consider holding joint meetings monthly or quarterly to go over team successes together. Take it a step further and make it fun by offering prizes to both teams based on goals achieved.
2. Share resources across teams
The marketing team drives leads, and the sales team finalizes the deals. That’s what makes the world go round in business. However, there isn’t always a clear handoff point where marketing responsibilities end and sales responsibilities begin.
Often, a salesperson is nurturing leads for weeks, months, or even longer, and needs helpful email templates, articles, and other content that can be used to keep the lead warm. Those are resources marketing has at their disposal and can easily share to give the sales team an edge over the competition.
Infusionsoft by Keap helps you create marketing and sales templates that the teams can share with one another. Software like Voila Norbert can be useful in periodically verifying that email lists are correct and up-to-date for the marketing team. The sales team can also use the tool to find a prospect’s email address to begin their initial outreach.
All of this shouldn't be a one-way street. Salespeople often have vital insights into a customer’s psyche that should be shared with the marketing team to help them produce the most effective content. Both teams collect specific data on customer interactions and deals, and that data should be shared frequently back and forth. To facilitate the conversation, consider having a shared Slack channel to encourage more communication between team members.
3. Overshare and provide constructive feedback
Got a hot lead that didn’t pan out because of some miscommunication from the marketing team? Tell them about it. Having difficult conversations gives much-needed insight into both teams' day-to-day interactions and can pay off big time with incremental adjustments to talk tracks, marketing materials, and the scoring of leads.
As with any interaction, it’s typically best to start with the positive. What did they do well? Where did their expertise shine? Then, touch on what could be improved. Be sure any criticism and feedback given is in the SMART framework, as defined by management consultant Peter Drucker: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. If feedback given doesn't touch on any of those criteria, then it’s not actionable or constructive, and should be avoided or reframed.
When possible, take things a step further when giving actionable advice by telling them what you’d like them to do (showing them if you can), and providing additional feedback. Modeling that new tactic, framework, or behavior can pay big dividends toward aligning the sales and marketing teams and increasing the bottom line.
4. Let loose together regularly
Oftentimes the marketing team isn’t on the same floor or in the same building as the sales team, which can make the other team seem unrelatable. In an effort to overcome this obstacle and facilitate more human interaction between the teams, schedule frequent happy hours, offsite events, lunch-and-learn sessions, and more, so each team can better relate to the other's day-to-day and get to know each other on a personal level. Doing so helps make both teams more empathetic and understanding towards each other and any shared struggles or failures, while also making shared successes more memorable.
Similar to the shared Slack channel mentioned above, consider another one solely for personal interactions, where team members can share random, funny, and interesting content to connect on things outside of work.
If your company is large enough, it might even be worth exploring some sort of company sports event or an annual charity drive. Consider an event like a softball or ping-pong tournament, or organize a shared charity drive between the sales and marketing teams such as Rise Against Hunger, Carter Blood Drive, or whatever charity fits in with your mission.
Although the sales and marketing teams in countless companies have historically been at odds with each other, it doesn't have to be that way. It’s about time that these two critical teams began working together. They are immensely valuable to a company, and when their best efforts are in sync, the results can be out of this world. Sometimes getting everyone on the same page takes little more than reminding them that when one team succeeds, so does the other, even if they're tackling the problems at hand from different angles.
The key to making sure your sales and marketing teams work seamlessly together boils down to uniting each team through shared goals, common terminology, and complete transparency. This process works best if each team is sharing resources like email templates, data, content, and any other helpful resources. Finally, it’s important to not only seek out constructive criticism and feedback between teams, but also to make time to let loose together.
Sujan Patel is a leading expert in digital marketing. He is a hard working and high energy individual fueled by his passion to help people and solve problems. He is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and a partner in a handful of software companies including Mailshake, Narrow.io, Quuu, and Linktexting.com. Between his consulting practice and his software companies, Sujan’s goal is to help entrepreneurs and marketers scale their businesses.