As long as people will be people, and as long as sales and marketing have different goals, we will have conflicts of interest between the two. A recent study by the Corporate Executive Board revealed that 87% of the terms used by sales and marketing to describe one another are negative. (Sounds a bit like the grade school playground, yes?)
However: A December 2011 report by Aberdeen Research showed that companies that are best-in-class at aligning marketing and sales:
- Find that 40% of the sales forecasted pipeline is generated by marketing, compared with 22% among Industry Average companies and 13% for Laggards, and
- Experience a 31.6% average year-over-year growth in annual company revenue, versus 18.2% for the Industry Average and a 6.7% average decrease among Laggards
So, perhaps that stunning revenue growth could be an incentive to find ways for sales and marketing to be more cooperative? Here are five tactics to do just that:
1. Marketing should reach out to sales
Marketers are the communicators inside an organization. If the relationship between sales and marketing is adversarial, it’s appropriate for marketing to reach out to bring both sides together. Someone has to take that first action; be proactive.
2. Managers should meet regularly
Meeting regularly outside the office is one of the most productive activities you can do. A lunch or coffee will offer a casual atmosphere to talk and understand each other’s point of view. Do something together once a month. Both sides should be committed to making it happen.
3. Marketing should sit in on sales calls
This is often called a “ride-along.” The purpose of this exercise is to observe how your qualified leads and sales interact. You might come away with some ideas on information you can provide sales during the lead hand-off, or you might have recommendations for sales on how they communicate with the leads you pass. You might learn something new about which messaging is most effective, or what real customers really want.
Whatever you call it …”walking in someone else’s moccasins” is a good idea. This is an essential activity and should occur on a regular basis.
4. Over-communicate with each other
Of all the potential challenges both sides will face as they work together, communication should be the easiest to solve. If a problem crops up, ask for a meeting and talk about it. Otherwise, the issue could fester and harm the relationship.
Another excellent type of communication is to make sure the sales team is aware of new developments in marketing. You could create a weekly email to sales with the latest information about campaigns, new marketing materials, or anything else that could affect sales.
Cooperation often happens more frequently when the CEO mandates it (no surprise there). Let the CEO know what both sides are doing to work together, and get buy-off and support.
If you’d like to dig deeper into sales and marketing alignment, get the Act-On training course “Intro to Sales and Marketing Cooperation” in the Act-On Center of Excellence, along with several white papers on the topic.