sandboxHistory has always been filled with great rivalries:

  • Dogs vs Cats
  • Tom vs Jerry
  • Pepsi vs Coke

And now in the 20th Century – Sales vs Marketing.

There has always been a disconnect between these two groups, and much blame gets passed to one another.  Marketing works hard to create a brand strategy that will make the phone ring and the website light up.   Sales gets leads but complainsthat they are either too few or not qualified enough.  Sales says they are far too busy to give constructive feedback to Marketing about the changing customer needs, and Marketing feels that Sales doesn’t appreciate how exciting their new campaigns are.  Sales continually asks for more from Marketing, and when Marketing delivers, Sales complains that they are not ready.  So organizations struggle because of lack of communication, and more importantly, lack of a cohesive sales and marketing strategy.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

The fundamental problem is that most times, Sales and Marketing have different agendas.  And not one is more important than the other.  Let’s assume both sides want to do everything in their power to get marketing ROI because it is in both of their best interests.  Follow these steps to help make it work.

1.  Involve the sales manager from the beginning in any marketing promotion

We are not talking about getting the sales manager to help create the campaign.  That is Marketing’s job, so sales managers, don’t get bossy!  Sales and Marketing should work in tandem when new promotions are being crafted.  You can discuss best dates and times to launch a promotion, how much time the sales team may need to prepare, and also what resources or research the sales team may provide for marketing.

Have an open discussion about the goals of the marketing campaign.  Marketing, how many leads would you like to see from this?  How much ROI do you hope to get out of it?  What would be your ideal goals?  Sales, explain how you can see those goals being achieved, and what you may need to ensure that happens.

2. Create ramp up time for the sales team for a new marketing message

Too often, Marketing works in the shadows creating a fantastic strategy or promotion and then unleashes it on Sales.  Often in a 30 minute conference call full of overwhelmingly detailed information and Sales are told, “It starts today.”  Sales is unprepared and may not be able to support the promotion in the most ideal way.  Sales may well be very excited to have some new tools, but they already feel time constrained, so they don’t make the most of their new tools and ROI suffers.

Building on the initial conversation in step 1, the sales manager can establish and effective timeline for their team to learn about the new promotion or strategy.  Then, through a series of smaller information sessions, Sales can understand what will be expected of them and the best reps will even start pre-planning how they will work the new strategy into their current strategy.  Then when the new promotion launches, it fits EXACTLY into their plan.

3. Combine marketing and sales language

Marketing and Sales speak different languages.  Don’t believe me?  Ask both sides what they feel are effective measures of success in a marketing campaign.

As part of the ramp up process in step 2, the sales team will need some time to fully absorb the message of the new marketing campaign.  They need to let it soak in and they need to own the message for themselves, before they can convey it to the customer.  Marketing, keep this in mind when you are crafting your message.  Discuss the message with Sales and see how they would explain it to the customer.  Work towards a seamless language.

Marketing, the last thing you want is your message being diluted because someone explained it in a different language.

4.  Have a COMPLETE strategy

Remember that the sales team will always be busy and have aggressive targets.  That means in order to be successful, they need a pipeline that feeds the business.  Each marketing strategy should fit into their pipeline and be part of the whole system.

When Sales is un-prepared or confused about the new marketing campaign, they feel frustrated because they may not be sure where to begin.  Leverage all of the tools at your disposal when creating the new campaign.

If you have followed steps 1-3, then your sales manager can work on creating a toolbox for the sales team to use for the new promotion.  Discuss the call to action for every stage.  Leverage your CRM in conjunction with your new marketing message.  Create an email marketing campaign that spans the length of the promotion.  Have the design of the emails match the design of the promotional material.  Create POS (Point of Sale Material) to give to customers.  Create a sales strategy to support the marketing campaign.  Have a plan for the sales team for what to do on DAY ONE, what to do in the first week, and all the way through the end of the promotion. Lay out how many calls, emails, etc. and also what to say to their customers.

A complete strategy is the way to the promise land.

5. Get and give feedback

Sales, you have now involved yourself in the process, and quite possibly annoyed them by doing so.  Now think about what you can do for them.  First off, deliver the sales results that you discussed in step 1.  But here’s a secret – Marketing likes STATS.  They feed off of lead counts, web page visits, SEO, analytics, etc.  Talk to your sales team and get feedback for Marketing to use.  Create some surveys for them to fill out.  Get the sales team to talk to their customers about the promotion and get feedback from them.  Compile as much data as you can that you can feed to Marketing, so they can use it the next time they have a plan.  Then…

Follow steps 1-5.  Repeat.

5.1 Improve your communication.

This step trumps all others.   Collaboration between Marketing and Sales is a beautiful thing.  But as we discussed earlier, each group has their own agenda and different sets of pressures.  Respect each other and seek to understand the unique challenges that both groups face.  Genuinely empathize and work with each other.  Read more about effective communication on my post on Listening Your Way Into Better Relationships.

All new ideas, promotions, and product launches are exciting!  Marketing loves them, Sales loves them, and when done correctly – your customers love them. 

image:  by jen_rab

Joe Girard
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    3 replies to "5.1 steps to Get Marketing and Sales to Play Nice in the Same Sandbox."

    • Mr X.

      There always seems to be that war of sales and marketing. Having a clear openly discussed plan that is agreed upon by those involved makes it a much smoother process. Also, getting their input makes it more of a joint project, instead of one feeling like the other creating more work for the other.

      Mr X

      • Joe Girard

        Great feedback! It is frustrating when one side feels that they are getting uneccesary work, but a good plan can help minimize that challenge.

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