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How Sales and Marketing Teams Can Work Beautifully Together Just Like Peanut Butter and Jelly


Some things in life just naturally go together: peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, and peas and carrots. Then there are the pairings that seem doomed to eternal conflict: cats and dogs, oil and water...and sales and marketing teams.

Sales Meets Marketing: By the Numbers

It’s not your imagination. sales and marketing teams have a history of conflict:

  • 51% of marketers aren’t satisfied with the quality of their communication with sales
  • 53% of sales reps think marketing doesn’t give them enough support
  • Sales reps ignore 50% of the leads they get from marketing
  • The waste and lost productivity resulting from conflicts between marketing and sales cost businesses up to $1 trillion per year.

Root of the Conflict

Before you can fix any misalignment between sales and marketing teams, it’s important to know how it all started -- and it wasn’t because of a snarky comment in the company cafeteria.

The two teams simply approach their work in different ways:

  • Marketers operate within a framework of market analytics
  • Sales reps operate within a framework of dollars and quotas.

Marketers think about how to engage broad customer segments, while sales reps have real conversations with specific customers. In other words, marketers develop strategies, while sales reps apply those strategies tactically.

teams ripe for conflict.jpg

And then there’s the fact that 65% of customers now conduct research online before they even talk to sales. Some marketers -- the creators of the content on which customers rely -- assume that puts marketing in the driver’s seat. But that assumption leaves the insight and experience of sales reps underutilized. And without intentional collaboration, the two departments rarely have clear insight into each other’s jobs, and you have an environment ripe for conflict.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

How Sales and Marketing Teams Can Work Together

Collaboration between sales and marketing teams takes deliberate effort, so let’s start by taking a look at why it’s worth it:

In a nutshell, when sales and marketing work together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Making Strides Toward Strategic Collaboration

Smoothing the rift between sales and marketing teams is clearly worth the effort, but how do you get started? Here are a few tips:

Get to Know Each Other

The first step is for each department to develop a basic understanding of what the other department does and how they do it. Marketers, for example, could listen in on sales calls or tag along with sales reps when they meet with customers. And sales reps could sit in on marketing strategy sessions.

Why is that so important? For marketing, listening to customers’ questions and objections is a great way to come up with ideas for content topics. It can also provide valuable insights into customers’ needs and decision-making processes as well as how they use the company’s products or services.

Sales reps, on the other hand, can gain understanding of why marketers create certain types of content as well as how they envision sales reps using that content. Considering the fact that 90% of marketing content goes unused by sales reps, that one step alone can represent significant savings.

Hug it Out

Once your sales and marketing teams have spent a little time learning about each others’ jobs, the stage is set for drawing actionable insights from those experiences. That could include things like:

  • To what degree sales acts on the leads marketing sends them -- and why or why not -- as wellhug it out.jpg as what marketing could do to improve the quality of those leads
  • The similarities and differences between each department’s understanding of both customer personas and the buyer’s journey, and the development of new paradigms that both departments agree on
  • What kind of content sales would like to have at each stage of the sales funnel
  • What content marketing has already created that sales isn’t fully utilizing.

Take Action

It’s not enough for sales and marketing to understand each other better. If those learnings aren’t put into action, it’s far too easy to slip back into old habits. Specific action steps could include things like:

  • Creating a shared lead scoring system and establishing a schedule for regular fine-tuning
  • Updating marketing automation triggers so that only the most qualified leads are forwarded to sales and that only those prospects who are ready to make a decision are contacted directly
  • Establishing shared KPIs, such as lead generation, email opt-ins, social media engagement, landing page conversion rates, etc.
  • Developing the correct type of content for each phase of the sales funnel
  • Collaborating on content creation so that sales can offer feedback and suggestions for improvement
  • Creating a content library that sales reps can use to supplement and support the conversations they have with specific customers
  • Creating content that builds sales reps’ authority and thought leadership by highlighting them as subject-matter experts in podcasts, webinars, byline articles, etc.
  • Identifying shared policies and standards that support the company’s branding efforts and present a consistent message to customers, vendors, and the community at large

If your sales and marketing teams stay within their own silos, or if they have competing priorities, it’s safe to say that they’re not delivering the greatest possible value to the company. Whether it’s knowledge, efficiency, sales opportunities, dollars, or other resources, something is being left on the table. And business today is far too competitive for that to work in the long term. 

Are you satisfied with the way your sales and marketing teams work together? 

For even more tips to help your small marketing team work at its absolute best, download our free ebook. 


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