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Sales and Marketing Don’t Have to Be at Odds with Each Other

18 May 2020

Examine the way your company functions and you’ll notice how your sales department and your marketing departments run out of sync with each other. Sales and marketing have often a different set of goals and fight for dominance in the structure of a company, usually competing for resources in a bid for dominance. It’s easy to see why this push and pull relationship has formed once you break down the nature of both.

Whereas sales targets customers on the individual level (you meet face-to-face with a prospect in a B2B setting to offer a sales pitch), marketing speaks to customers on a much higher level. Even the level of communicating the company’s message is different. Marketing wishes to create strong, overarching narratives that are consistent across all channels, which is not possible to accomplish when you’re in a meeting with a client. Salespeople have learned to anticipate the precise needs of a prospect and cherry pick parts of the message that would best predispose them to purchase.

There are other fundamental differences. Sales have to work on a much time frame – here and now with this specific client. Marketing works year round to tell compelling stories and draw prospects. Even the channels for communication are radically different. There’s the variety of direct channels salespeople use – face-to-face, phone or email – to the less personal channels in marketing such as print ads, radio ads, digital ads, general social media presence.

"Perhaps the biggest difference that places marketing and sales at complete odds with each other is their placement on the sales conversion funnel."

Marketing, which is considerably less direct except for the most aggressive and intrusive strategies, marks the start of the sales conversion process as the thing that incites curiosity within prospect buyers and further guides them down the funnel. The role of sales, which always has been direct, comes a little bit later, when the prospect is ready and primed to be won over and make a purchase.

Because both are regarded as complete opposites (direct / indirect; impersonal / personal; early / late in the conversion funnel), it’s to be expected that they would create a natural push and pull in your company as the two departments (or rather the people who perform this duties, if you’re in a smaller company) fight for resources and work towards sometimes completely opposite goals.

The one place where marketing and sales seem to function as one and show that you don’t need to have both at odds is during trade shows. The nature of the event is to stimulate companies to compete for sales, but also command attention and inform through marketing. This bridges differences and demonstrates how when sales and marketing are in harmony with each other, your company grows.

But how do you recreate the magic of a trade show that lasts for a week tops in your company the whole year round? Isn’t that the big question, and the answer is simple (though not implemented as easily as you’d wish) – you have to establish a common ground between the two departments and discover mutual goals that neutralize the push and pull to instill equilibrium.

There are two major roadblocks to this being easily achieved – 1) it’s incredibly time consuming, and 2) there’s a tendency for different departments to try to dominate the other, rather than listen or compromise.

While the first roadblock concerns itself with logistics, it’s the second one that is the bigger threat, because communication in bad faith threatens any payoff in the long term. What you have to decide early on, when trying to agree on a singular path between sales and marketing, is to think only what’s best for the customer. After all, both departments in your company have to think about the customer first and the consistent collaboration between both is ultimately what will improve customer experience and increase overall sales.

To make a stable collaboration between marketing and sales, you need to do the following:

  • Always maintain active communication channels between both departments as a means to touch base on the goals – this can be done weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the size of your business, although it’s not recommended to hold them any less frequently;
  • Agree on who your customer is and how you’re going to target them as a joint unit – this will clear up any miscommunication and streamline the work process in the future so that you don’t waste time clearing any lingering confusion;
  • Establish exact procedures on how joint efforts should proceed – this has mostly to do with follow-up between the two departments; every piece of information that’s exchanged has to be actionable by the other department such as sales department following up on leads submitted by marketing team;
  • Track the whole process and use numbers to guide your decisions – what will undo your project is forgetting to track and monitor the effectiveness of your strategies. When there are gaps in the internal knowledge of the company open you up to inefficiency and internal problems that go undiagnosed until it’s too late. You have to hold everyone accountable.


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