Over the years, sales and marketing departments at many companies have been at odds with one another. In some organizations, the relationship between marketing and sales is downright contentious, with each complaining about the other behind the others’ back.
It’s a well-documented problem. In fact, many people have written about the need to break down “the wall” between sales and marketing.
As professions, marketing and sales tend to attract different types of people – people who operate differently and who are incentivized differently. Marketers and salespeople don’t always spend a lot of time hanging out together at the office or outside of work.
Sales may feel that marketing is not communicating the right message in digital collateral such as PDFs. Marketing may feel that the messages they developed are not being properly communicated to buyers.
There can be financial tension between marketing and sales. Sales may disagree with the size of marketing’s budget. Sales may also feel that products are priced too high.
Sometimes, the term “better sales and marketing alignment” is applied to the idea of resolving conflicts and differences. Alignment is defined as, “arrangement in a straight line, or in correct or appropriate relative positions.” This definition seems a little narrow for the optimal end game.
“Synergy” means, “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”
The goal should be not only for marketing and sales to see eye to eye, but to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.
The Differences Between Marketing and Sales
In order to understand how to achieve sales and marketing synergy, it’s important to first identify and accept the fundamental differences between marketing and sales roles — and therefore why a wall exists in the first place.
English businessman John Edmonds asked over 300 managers and business owners whether they knew the difference between marketing and selling. About 90% of them could not articulate the difference.
According to Edmonds, “Marketing is bending product and services supply towards the mind of the customer. Selling is bending the mind of the customer towards product and services supply.”
In addition, marketing has a much wider scope in most organizations than sales does. For product companies, the marketing department is responsible for everything from product design to production to pricing to distribution.
The activity of selling has a much narrower scope. In fact, Edmonds goes as far as to say, “selling is a small part of marketing and not the other way around.”
Ways to Achieve Sales and Marketing Synergy
So, how can true sales and marketing synergy occur?
First of all, senior management needs to have a clear idea in their own minds of the difference between marketing and sales. Management should, in turn, internally communicate these differences and explain the complete role of the respective group to members of the other.
Marketers can tell salespeople whom they’ve identified, through research, to be the ideal buyer for a given product or service.
Marketing relies on sales to be the final leg in the journey from product inception to customer and repeat customer. Sales relies on marketing to make their job as easy as possible.
Salespeople can provide valuable insights to marketers about the mind of the customer, as they’re the ones having daily conversations with prospects and customers.
Salespeople should have a way to communicate to marketing what they think they need but are not getting.
There needs to be a forum or vehicle for this type of information to be exchanged. The conversations are not going to just happen on their own. Monthly or quarterly meetings should be arranged.
These meetings should focus on not only resolving differences, but on proactive maneuvers such as jointly strategizing on growing major accounts.
Technologies such as Slack can be leveraged for more ongoing sharing of information and for feedback.
Marketing to Sales Lead Handoff
Marketing should never blindly feed salespeople all incoming leads. It should be handing off those who have expressed a need for the company’s product or service or who likely have a need.
When a website visitor’s contact information is captured, marketing can use big data sources to enrich leads and to let salespeople know which person they should ultimately be approaching within an organization that the visitor represents. The visitor may be a symptom of product or service need within an organization, but may not be the best sales contact.
Marketing technology has opened up new avenues for sales and marketing synergy. It’s easier than ever to control the lead flow.
With closed loop reporting, marketing can understand what sources, content and offers ultimately resulted in the highest close rate.
In fact, the data provided from an integrated marketing automation and CRM system can be a key facilitator for greater marketing and sales synergy.
A Combined Marketing and Sales Funnel
One of the symptoms of the long standing division between marketing and sales is the fact that each normally has its own funnel representation.
If both departments are working toward a common goal and are in regular communication, there’s no reason that there shouldn’t be a single combined funnel that represents a continuum of marketing and sales stages.
In fact, a starting point for greater sales and marketing synergy could be to develop your own combined funnel visualization.