4 Ideas to Spark More Effective Collaboration Between Sales & Marketing

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By Jennifer Clark 

Too often, sales and marketing teams function like oil and water. But why?

In a lot of cases, these two departments are rarely in sync, often operating under different strategies, key performance indicators (KPIs), and understandings of the customer profile and buyer persona. 

A recent survey by Lean Data, Inc. shows 51 percent of marketers are not satisfied with the level of communication between the teams, and 53 percent of sales professionals are not pleased with marketing’s support. This may also be why, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 90 percent of the content created for sales by marketing is never used by sales. 

These challenges stem from miscommunication and conflicting goals between the two teams. 

Marketing typically aims to entice and enhance the customer experience by providing volumes of highly valuable content. Sales, on the other hand, is focused on convincing prospects to buy the company’s product or service. 

If we look past the surface-level description of each department’s main goal, they are in fact one and the same: to turn prospects into lifelong customers by providing an optimal user experience. Many companies that have aligned their sales and marketing teams have not regretted it. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 36 percent even report higher customer retention rates as a result. 

Here are four ways to help your marketing and sales teams, as well as your overall business, communicate more effectively, work more efficiently, and drive better results. 

Establish a Common Understanding 

Similar to advice you may have heard about your love life, a healthy relationship cannot exist solely through electronic communication. 

To take the sales-marketing relationship to the next level, the teams must get together in person. This is the easiest and biggest first step toward establishing open lines of communication between the two departments. 

The main thing getting together for a meeting or lunch will accomplish is working toward a common mission and company understanding. Everyone may know what a KPI is, but that doesn’t mean your marketing department looks for the same KPIs as sales. Do the KPIs mean the same thing to both teams? What type of overlap exists between all of these KPIs?

For example, both sales and marketing care about the rate of lead generation and user engagement. So there should be an overlap in KPIs that provides insights for both teams. 

Establishing these common areas will not only help both departments gain understanding of the other, but will also set a common language to use and the same goals to strive toward. With a common objective comes teamwork. The benefit of a healthy sales-marketing relationship can be found in the overlap. 

Meet Frequently 

Consider scheduling a weekly or monthly meeting between the two departments as a great way to bring up challenges and issues that may exist. This will inevitably happen, as sales and marketing have a tendency to point fingers at the shortcomings of the other in the event that a deal or campaign goes awry. Done in a professional and constructive way, that’s not a bad thing. 

Airing grievances is important before moving forward and does not have to be a frustrating practice. By identifying the weaknesses between sales and marketing, everyone can begin to work together to bridge this deficit. 

It is also important to promote an optimistic and affirming outlook by highlighting the strengths and skills that each department possesses. This will give both sales and marketing teams the chance to understand what they must work hard on and will reassure them that they have the skills to accomplish such a task.

Start Working on a Joint Project 

Now that your teams have established contact and community, it’s time to put your working relationship into practice.

Start by working on a bipartisan issue, such as creating or refining buyer personas. Buyer personas are typically thought of as a task for the marketing team. However, you’re already behind if you’re not using the input of your sales team, too. 

Marketing is in the business of knowing the multitude of in-depth data, habits, and intricate pieces that make up a customer. Sales, on the other hand, has the most face-to-face experience with actual customers. This gives the sales team the knowledge to predict trends where data may fail. 

By combining their expert insight, sales and marketing can better figure out who’s buying, what they’re buying, and what is motivating them. As one salesperson once said to me, “Any time you’re struggling to fill your editorial calendar, talk to the sales team for 10 minutes or join them for one customer call.” 

Create Better Content Together 

Following the creation of more accurate buyer personas, sales and marketing can work in tandem to make better content overall. 

Marketing can no longer be looked at as a one-way communication tool. With the use of data analytics as well as insight from the sales team, both sectors can work together to create more targeted and valuable content. For example, the marketing team can consult with the sales team about the most common pain points customers experience. 

With these pain points in mind, marketing can create articles that address these struggles and provide solutions along with a call to action that leads them to understanding why your company’s product or service would be a good fit to their problem. 

With sales and marketing working together to create content, the member’s journey will be smoothed by a unified brand voice. 

Jennifer Clark is a senior international studies student at Fordham University and a content marketing and social media intern with DMTraining. 

For more on sales-marketing relationships, download the ebook Ultimate Inbound Marketing and Sales Playbook.