NEW! Listen to the article
Sales and marketing are not related? It is a ubiquitous tale today. In some cases, the conflict becomes so bad that it becomes an endless game of guilt to justify hampered performance.
Ironically, the conflict between these two crucial departments may be the very cause of the substandard performance.
Of course, that does not have to be the case. Everyone knows that. No company management is unaware of the risks that an inability to collaborate entails. Yet, when the unwanted becomes a reality, many fail to find an effective solution, or even take it properly into consideration.
This article will help you prevent it. Although any business conflict requires a unique solution, this guide will help you focus on the specific problem.
Finally, we’ll talk about “smarketing” (a portmanteau of “sales” and “marketing”), and how you can use it to customize your sales and marketing processes.
Understanding the sales and marketing gap
The key to finding an effective solution to the division between sales and marketing is to understand what is causing the conflict in the first place. To do so, answer the following questions to identify if the problem is inherent in the team structure.
Are the KPIs aggregated?
Most companies set different and somewhat independent KPIs for the sales and marketing teams. The lack of unification gives the impression that the two departments have nothing to do with each other’s work, resulting in interrupted efforts.
To better understand the problem of sales and marketing customization, think of a case where the marketing team’s most important KPIs generate leads. The preferred goal is to nurture Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and convert them into Sales Leads. Next, the sales team takes these leads and tries to convert them into paying customers. So for various reasons, things fall apart and the conversion does not happen. As a consequence, the sales team does not generate enough sales to meet its KPIs for the month.
Letting one team generate a result separately and then have the other take over is not a good formula for optimal collaboration. It will always result in fragmented work that does not invite communication between the two teams.
To combat such fragmentation, you need to create one general goal for which the two teams are responsible together. Do not just ask about leads from the marketing team and look for sales from the sales team.
An excellent overall KPI for a software company would be the number of new paying users.
You also do not have to drop traditional KPIs such as leads and sales – just choose a KPI that reflects the desired end result so that the marketing team does not just aim to meet the required number of leads and stop. Likewise, the sales team, in turn, will make the right effort in closing a sale instead of quickly rejecting the lead when things are not going as smoothly as expected.
Is one team aware of the other’s challenges?
Solid communication between the two teams without an intermediary is a must. Otherwise, the problems start to pile up and snowball.
To avoid these problems, sales and marketing teams should hold regular meetings. Following an agile methodological framework is an opportunity to effectively solve the communication problem.
Agile revolves around the idea of sprints – which are basically short-term goals. To keep track of progress, teams have two types of meetings: Standups that occur every day, and retrospectives that take place during specific periods.
Standups help Sales and Marketing stay up to date on the other team’s current tasks and progress. Retrospectives create the opportunity for the two teams to identify challenges and together strategies a solution.
These meetings increase awareness of the current state of action and develop a sense of responsibility for the combined progress of sales and marketing.
Is there an effective feedback channel?
Now that you have established regular communication between the two teams, it is time to ensure that a healthy and constructive feedback system is in place so that marketing and sales can openly communicate what is not working for them.
To begin with, create a course for your team on how to constructively express negative feedback and avoid conflicts. In addition, create a document based on the training and include it in your onboarding program for new team members.
You can also create lead review meetings so that Sales evaluates the leads it has received over a period of time. The process should involve a review of the quality of leads, needs and challenges in relation to leads, and what helped close the deal or what went wrong. A thorough approach to lead analysis provides an opportunity to specifically discover what works and what does not.
Is there a fair incentive system?
It is common for companies to have bonus structures for the sales team that do not extend to the marketing team. As a result, Sales is motivated to close the sale to receive its bonuses, whereas Marketing receives no rewards for generating these profitable leads.
An effective solution is to create a fair incentive system for both teams: Also reward the marketing team for leads that successfully convert into paying customers. When a lead hits a milestone, e.g. brings in a fixed amount in profit, the marketing team can get a bonus.
It’s just one of the many possible ways you can build fair incentives.
Closing the gorge
Once you’ve solved the ongoing issues, it’s time to take a step back and look at your company’s overall infrastructure. The goal is to ensure that it supports and stimulates a healthy collaboration between Sales and Marketing.
You do this by using the marketing frameworks.
Adoption of ‘Smarketing’
If you are familiar with inbound marketing, you have probably already heard of smarketing. Its goal is to create strong alignment between the sales and marketing functions to accelerate growth.
B2B organizations with carefully coordinated sales and marketing activities achieve an annual growth rate of 20%, the latest reports show.
The marketing framework emerged in the late 2000s. The marketing software provider HubSpot coined the term “smarketing” and helped popularize it.
Later, the growing popularity of inbound marketing increased the adoption of the framework and increased its use across the globe significantly.
We have already covered some of the basic principles of the marketing framework in the previous sections of this article. There are five steps you need to take to turn your sales and marketing into a marketing team:
- Create a consistent sales and marketing meeting schedule.
- If possible, put sales and marketing teams in the same room.
- Set common goals and define responsibility in a service level agreement (SLA).
- Create overall terminology and reporting.
- Review data consistently and do it about finding ways to increase revenue and profits.
Let’s review some of the points we have not already discussed, such as sitting both teams in the same room, which is a great way to invite more communication between the two teams organically. They might even start casually brainstorming and sharing ideas.
Being in the same room naturally increases the awareness between the two departments, so that the stand-up meetings become more effective. It also helps enable the marketing team to intercept sales calls.
Proceed to the next point: a service level agreement (SLA) clearly defines each team’s responsibilities in a written and signed form. You can take it even further by defining the roles and responsibilities of each team member. What’s useful about an SLA is that everyone has to sign it, so everyone has to agree.
And the last point: Have both Sales and Marketing focus on increasing revenue and profit. When reviewing performance data, focus on revenue generation. This means that we approach each data with the question, “How did this help us increase revenue and profit? What is ROI?”
For example, impressions are higher during this month, great, but how does that affect the income month? Even if you focus on increasing brand awareness, remember ROI.
To summarize and answer the question in the title of this article: sales and marketing teams should work together and not compete. Competition within a team is likely to be counterproductive and can cause divisions within the company.
Now you know what steps to take to avoid the problem in your own business and ensure that its infrastructure supports and nurtures sales and marketing alignment.
More resources on sales and marketing customization
The strength of ‘Smarketing’ (marketing and sales customization) [Infographic]
Adjust marketing and sales to facilitate B2B buying | MarketingProfs webinar
Can’t we all just get together? Why sales and marketing should work together