How to Make Sales and Marketing Work Seamlessly Together

A person can get themselves into trouble by confusing a salesperson with one who works in marketing. They are most certainly not the same thing as, and such should not be confused with one another.

While the war wages on between the two departments, there is a considerable overlap between marketing and sales.

Speaking in broad terms, the marketing department is responsible for generating leads which they then pass on to the salespeople who must then take these leads and bring home a sale. These are different roles, but it does not take a rocket scientist to see that they are indeed related.

What happens when these two teams work together?

The specific goals of each department may vary considerably, but the bottom line of a business can be greatly impacted if they were able to work harmoniously together.

There should be no break in the line of communication between the departments. Instead, the tactics of each should be designed with the other in mind. They cannot and should not work in isolation. The onus does now, however, lie with only one department.

Businesses that strive for marketing and sales cooperation report that not only their overall revenue increased, but that they also have higher rates of conversion and shortened sales cycles.

“Companies with dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes report an average 10% more of their salespeople meet their quotas compared to other companies.” – CSO Insights

Celine McGrath, Sr. Manager – Marketing at BestEssays, mused that ”Marketing is a must-have strategic tool to increase sales, not a nice-to-have frill when you can afford it”. She adds, ‘’You cannot talk about marketing without thinking about sales. And thus, as the landscape of business changes, marketers need to think like salespeople and salespeople need to think like marketers.’’

So, how do we make this cooperation happen?

These 10 insights into making Sales and Marketing work together will give you a head start.

1. Sales and Marketing teams need to speak the same language

Going abroad will show you how frustrating a language barrier can be. When you consider that in sales and marketing they do not speak the same language, then it comes as no surprise that there are severe lapses in communication.

If you are going to get people to work together, then the first step would be ensuring that they can understand each other. The two terms that are key here are:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)

These terms represent the goals of each department. The definition of each should be decided upon after consulting with both the sales and marketing teams. In terms of an MQL, how much did the potential customer engage with the marketing material? How many times did they engage with it?

These must be taken into consideration when weighing or scoring the lead so that each department is clear on how good of a lead it is. Moving on to SQL, what is the actual chance of conversion here? Is there a set way of quantifying this? Do both teams understand how and why an SQL has been weighted the way it has?

“Cohesion between the sales and marketing departments results in 208% more value and 108% less friction in the sales process.” – Research by App Data Room & Marketo. 

2. They have the same goal, but they need to be told that they do

The endgame of the sales/marketing duo is quite simple: To convert as many leads as possible into paying customers. Nothing else. But, if you had to ask each department, the chances are you would find some variation when they talk about their respective goals.

A very simple way in which to align the goals of each department is to have an accurate way of scoring leads. Furthermore, this scoring must be fully understood and implemented.

3. How are leads scored?

In the marketing part of the funnel, how accurate is the scoring of leads? Do they take into consideration the amount of time a website has been visited? Is the level of interaction with the company noteworthy? And finally, at which score does the lead get passed onto the sales department?

It is all well and good passing on a massive amount of leads to the salespeople. But, how many of those leads are viable? Does the customer intend to buy the product or are they simply fervent browsers?

When it comes to handing over leads, the sales department should be consulting. By sourcing out their opinion on the matter, one can ensure that only leads with real potential are handed over.

This useful guide by Hubspot gives you the 101 on scoring leads.

4. Roles should be well-defined and agreed upon

What should each department be doing? Each department needs to know specifically what is required of them. Marketing roles can be split up into three levels:

  • The first is generating demand via the use of marketing content.
  • The second is the marketing of products.
  • The third is building relationships with the customers

Once these duties have been fulfilled, the sales department takes over:

  • Their first task is determining the priority of the lead and categorizing them.
  • And the second is to initiate the first contact.

This is how the roles should be defined and should be put down in black and white in a service-level agreement. By making it official and binding, there is a level of accountability that gets injected into the process.

5. Marketing content should be created by consulting with salespeople

Marketing content is what draws customers and potential buyers. It acts as the first point of contact long before a salesperson steps in. But, it is not only used by the marketing department. Salespeople utilize the marketing content as they go about their business.

“B2B buyers are 5X more likely to engage with a sales professional who provides new insights into their business or industry.” – LinkedIn survey.

However, studies found that many sales departments would just create their own marketing content if they could not find what they were looking for or if the content they were given was insufficient.

A content audit at SAP showed that almost 60% of the marketing content which was created for one product area alone, never came into force as it was inaccessible to the sales team.

The big questions to ask

During this time, every piece of marketing material needs to be evaluated.

  • What content is available?
  • Who is using the content?
  • What is being completely left untouched?
  • Why is this content not being used?

By finding honest and accurate answers to these questions, a company can streamline their content.

So, how can content sharing be encouraged?

Once an audit is done, it is time to create new content. This is where the sales team can provide insight into what works well with the customers.

By bringing them in on the creative process, a company can decrease the money that is wasted and work on producing content that is highly effective. The marketing department also needs to consider the funnel that the sales team works with.

Marketing and sales funnels are different and need to be treated as such. By producing content that lends itself to both the sales and marketing funnel and by establishing a content sharing schedule between the two departments, a company can ensure that they are fully equipped to deal with the conversion process.

6. Content must be available and customizable

Brilliant sales-targeted content is less than useless if it is not made readily available to the salespeople themselves. Information, as well as content, needs to flow freely between the two departments.

Optimal use of technology is the key

By setting up a platform which allows the effortless sharing of content such as this, you can ensure that the people that need the content have access to it. Furthermore, this content needs to be presented in such a way that it can be customized to the individual.

Salespeople know how to appeal to the individuals. They know how to deal with their customers, and they need content which can help them finally make the sale. The simple solution is to create some content that can be tweaked and changed as needed. This will allow for targeted selling.

Another approach can be to create interactive content such as personality quizzes, calculators or assessments, which provide a more personalized experience from the get-go.

Marketing and sales departments should also have software platforms that are compatible with one another. Nothing is more frustrating than two systems that can’t integrate and transfer data. This leads to inaccurate and messy data in an organization’s CRM software platform, ultimately leading to a mishandling of customer relationships.

7. Each department should have access to the other’s tools and information

If the marketing team have access to sales analytics, then they can work to optimize the content they are creating. They will know what is being used, what is working and what kind of customers they are dealing with. Knowledge is power after all.

The approach works in the opposite direction as well, clear access to all created content for the sales team will stimulate them to inspire prospects.

8. How does each department define success?

People need something to work towards, but they also need to know when they have got there.

The marketing team needs to be made aware of what is considered successful by the sales team. Maybe it is the number of phone calls made or the number of emails that are sent out. Once they have been made aware of this, they can work to produce content that is specifically designed to meet those targets.

9. Praise needs to be distributed

Everyone wants to be appreciated. They want to know that people are acknowledging the work that they have put in. It can be very easy to only give praise to the department that was directly involved. This is a mistake.

A success for the sales team is a success for the marketing team and vice-versa. This kind of thinking needs to be reinforced and will help boost productivity as well. Furthermore, credit needs to be given to indirect involvement whenever there is a success in the business.

10. Know when to step back

The goal is cohesion between the sales and marketing departments. You want them to start working together. What you don’t want, is one trying to take over the others job. Both teams need to know when it is time to step away.

Their roles and positions have been defined, and they need to know that they cannot wander off from those roles. This is a relationship, and it should be built on trust, understanding and most importantly, respect. Respect for each other and respect for the task at hand.

What are your experiences when it comes to Marketing and Sales departments working together?

Let us know your tips and insights in the comments!

About the author:
Warren Fowler

Warren Fowler

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