Sales vs Marketing: 5 Things I Have Learned

The sales team. Yep. They don’t report on lead follow-up, don’t use the right collateral, don’t use the right messaging, and so on.

While I can’t say I’ve won the Marketing vs. Sales battle completely, I have learned a few things on how Marketing can communicate better with Sales.

1. Don’t surprise the sales team.

 
We are a new marketing department, so we haven’t been doing lead generation campaigns for that long. But the first ones we launched followed a very different procedure that what we use now.

So what did we change?

Before, we would launch a campaign without telling Sales anything and assume that they would know what to do with the leads. Now, we communicate with Sales as soon as we have the idea, walk them through the campaign, give them “cheat sheets” on how to follow up, and let them run through the live campaign before we send it to prospects.

Following up on leads is a lot easier for reps when they know the first half of the conversation Marketing had with the leads. The extra communication also builds excitement for the leads and improves follow-up.

Campaign Communication Steps

  1. Discuss the initial idea with the sales director.
  2. Present a formal marketing plan with mockups and flowcharts.
  3. Let them experience the live campaign.
  4. Provide a cheat sheet to help with lead follow up.
  5. Share the campaign results.

2. Remember you don’t have the same jobs.

 
How often do you think about your brand’s “story” or message? Probably a lot . . . because that’s your job. It’s NOT the job of the sales team. You can’t expect Sales to absorb the ins and outs of how you’re positioning your company based on a memo and that one time you stopped a rep in the hallway.

You wouldn’t get it either if you were in their shoes.

To get buy in, you need to have a mix of one-on-one conversations, small group conversations, and announcements to the whole group. If you take the time to explain (over and over) why Marketing is doing something, you’ll get a lot more support from Sales.

3. Appeal to what works.

 

Salespeople are naturally aligned to seek results. Just like marketers, right? Well, no. A salesperson seeks his or her results in a more immediate fashion. They think, “I’m talking right now about our new product, and the client doesn’t look happy. I’ll stop talking.”

You can leverage that in your communication with Sales.

Reframe the conversation to: “This is how Marketing directly helps you sell more.”

Directly tie your campaigns to results for them. Don’t just say, “Brand consistency is important!” Instead, talk about how that consistency will lead to more sales.

4. Build trust with your sales team.

 
Marketing wouldn’t exist without Sales, and Sales definitely needs Marketing. We’ve gone from having to declare what we call #marketinglaw to hearing “We trust you. Just do what you think will work best.”

How’d we get there?

We consistently delivered on our promises, and our campaigns consistently delivered results. We’ve made mistakes and had setbacks, of course, but we have insisted on an open and honest partnership.

If your sales team doesn’t trust you, you will never get the feedback you need to improve your marketing. And that takes me to the next point.

5. Listen to your sales team.

 
They have had a big part in building the company to where it is today. They talk to your customers and listen to their difficulties and take the time to understand them (hopefully). Sit down and listen to the sales team. Take a rep to lunch to ask what is working for her. Don’t just send an impersonal survey.

If the only communication Sales gets from Marketing is one-way and usually handing out a new rule, then Sales probably doesn’t like you very much.

Of course they don’t want to cooperate!

Make sure the communication is a conversation. Do your part by listening. The humility to ask for insight will improve your working relationship.

I hope the little I’ve learned helps you navigate your own relationship with sales. And, feel free to add some more tips for me in the comments or on Twitter: @jkarsenault.
 

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