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Marketing and Sales: Setting Each Other Up for Success

Jessica Devaney
Published on February 18, 2016
By Jessica Devaney
For many companies, getting sales and marketing to work together can be like trying to mix oil and water. Each side has their own ways of finding and securing leads and in some cases it can be an “us vs. them” scenario. But it doesn’t have to be that way; in fact, it shouldn’t be – both teams are tasked with growing revenue, and by working together these goals can be achieved faster.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some fantastic sales teams and below is a step-by-step process we developed to achieve our goals together.

Marketing and sales supporting each other to reach true goals

Step #1: Put pride aside and listen to each other


The marketing team is often very proud of the content they have produced for the website or for marketing collateral, but if that content is not drawing interest, there may be a disconnect in the message that is being presented to the audience. And often, the sales team is proud of their own methods/messaging they use to get prospects and make a sale, and they don’t feel that marketing needs to be involved. Both sides are wrong in this thinking, and pride is clouding their better judgement. The sales team has the luxury of talking to prospects and customers; they get direct feedback which helps them understand how the target audience responds to certain messages. This knowledge is gold and should be shared with the marketing team so they can develop effective messaging. And the marketing team, when drafting messaging, should always get input from the sales team.


Step #2: Set goals together/determine roles and tactics on a quarterly basis

Many sales teams get together on a quarterly basis for their QBRs (or quarterly business reviews) when they review the success of the previous quarter and talk about goals for the next quarter. The marketing team should be invited to this meeting, and in some companies this is often overlooked. Often, the QBR brings all the sales representatives together in one place, and it’s a great time to brainstorm and meet with marketing to talk about tactics for the coming quarter together – and come to agreement. The sales team should know what the marketing plans are; the marketing team should understand the top targets the sales team is going after, the events they are planning to attend, and any challenges they’ve run into, as there may be places where marketing can provide support. If your company doesn’t do a QBR, marketing and sales should still make a plan to meet quarterly (in person, if possible) to set goals for the coming quarter, discuss tactics and get a handle on who is doing what.

Step #3: Plan to meet weekly

It may seem like a lot of meetings, but it’s important to have a weekly touchpoint, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. As a junior marketing manager, I was assigned the role of working with the sales team and I found that I could never get a hold of anyone – but then they told me that they felt marketing wasn’t listening to them. Working around their routines – for example, they were on the road Tuesday through Thursday – we found a time that worked for everyone. In fact, I was asked to join their Friday morning pipeline calls to give a 10-minute update on marketing, and then each member of the team could ask me questions or provide feedback. After that no one said that they felt marketing was unavailable to them; they knew they could find me every Friday on the pipeline call. If further discussion was needed, I would set up a separate call, but in having a recurring call every Friday on my calendar with the sales team, I was able to get consistent feedback from the team and form a relationship with them. I also learned another valuable lesson here about the team: I had been reaching out to them via email but because they were on the road so much, I learned that calling them would get me faster feedback and show them that marketing was listening to them.

Step #4: Review, assess, make changes when things aren’t working, and think of ways to improve monthly

Sometimes plans fail, and it’s important to figure out why. And often, this is where there can be a struggle between marketing and sales (back to the “us vs. them”). Go back to step #1, put aside the pride because no one is going to get anything accomplished if marketing and sales are pointing fingers at each other when goals aren’t met. It’s important to note that some tactics may be more successful than others, and that it can sometimes take time to build results. If you set up projected goals for each program, and after a month find that they are not succeeding the way you had hoped, it’s time to take a deeper look into why it didn’t work, and make a plan to either fix or kill the program.

Step #5: Make sure you agree on reporting tools and how you are going to measure results (and that you understand the process for updating/making sure the data is accurate

The last thing, and probably the most important, is coming to an agreement on the process for reporting your results. While most marketing and sales tools integrate, there needs to be an agreed-upon process for organizing and tracking campaigns. Both sales and marketing need to be able to track where the lead first came from, when it turned into an opportunity and finally when it closed (or was lost and why). Having this insight enables everyone to have a better view of the average time it takes to turn a lead into an opportunity and then close it, as well as track what worked and what didn’t.

If you are struggling with getting your marketing and sales teams to work together effectively, give these steps a try. Marketing/sales alignment benefits everyone, helps grow the sales pipeline, and helps you to meet (and exceed) your business goals.

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