Effective sales and marketing teams are independently necessary to the economic engine of an organization.
Your sales team represents the company’s front-facing force, presenting to large groups, attending conferences, and getting face time with the person who employs everyone at the company: the client. The marketing team, however, is the behind-the-scenes Swiss army knife that crafts compelling messaging with print and digital media, optimizing all marketing efforts to drive customers to your company and ultimately convert them.
These two roles serve a shared purpose: to identify, attract, and close business for the company. But far too often, these teams find themselves acting out a typical “Dilbert” comic script of blame, backbiting, and mutual frustration during slow sales cycles.
Fortunately, there’s another way. It’s possible to bring these two groups to the same table to work off of the same script and dramatically improve your team’s — as well as the entire company’s — performance across almost every worthwhile metric.
Yes, sales can maintain a sufficient level of success, despite hardly speaking with marketing. But why not dig deeper and achieve your potential as part of a whole? That may seem like an overstatement, but it’s true. Over the years, we’ve found that the more integrated our sales and marketing teams became, the better our overall results were.
When marketing and sales are on the same page, each team helps the other achieve its goals. Marketing can track online behaviors of leads to warm the sales team up, and your group can help marketing get a more detailed idea of which types of leads convert best.
Plus, high-quality, actionable items are delivered frequently with high levels of consistent messaging, leading to more recognizable brand positioning.
Lastly, accurate sales material (the livelihood of your team) is created in a fraction of the time, eliminating multiple rounds of revisions being pinged back and forth between sales and marketing.
When sales and marketing don’t act as a cohesive unit, projects can take three to four times as long as they should. This results in an immediate loss of sales activity and decreased revenue.
But the benefits of such a partnership paint a beautiful picture — one of a well-oiled machine functioning at peak performance.
When you’re ready to tap into the companywide benefits of an integrated sales and marketing team, here are five actionable steps you can implement to merge effectively:
1. Schedule regular meetings. No matter how technologically advanced we become, when you’re trying to foster connectivity, nothing beats face-to-face communication. Whenever possible, coordinate weekly, biweekly, or monthly touchpoints to help your team and marketing get to know each other. Prioritizing in-person meetings will also help you send the message that the integration is a permanent adjustment, not a short-term fad.
2. Encourage truthful feedback. Ask your sales team for frequent feedback on what’s working and what’s not — and make sure the marketing manager does the same. Have each employee provide comments so everyone has an opportunity to improve the process. (You may need to ask a few creative questions to get to the truth.)
3. Craft a mutual big picture. Discuss an annual strategy that describes the company’s path over the next few years with companywide decision makers. This will help both teams let go of the turf wars and focus on working together to achieve mutual goals. Of course, planning must adjust for reality. Be ready to shift this plan — as a team — as needed.
4. Consider swapping seats. If you’re trying to heal a great divide, you might see a lot of benefit from having your team swap seats with marketing. This could be as short-term as having marketers sit in on one of your team member’s calls or as long-term as reassigning your sales members to marketing teams to get a feel for the role. You could also reorganize your team around customers rather than products, automatically putting marketing and sales together in groups that serve certain customer segments.
5. Embrace technology. Use technology to your advantage, and use programs and tools that exist to help the teams work together. For example, one of your current problems might be that your team and marketing have different information about a customer. Deploy a tool that will comprehensively integrate customer information, enabling both teams with a new source of information as the glue that holds them together.
We all know that information silos kill businesses, yet it’s all too common across industries for sales and marketing departments to function independently. Marketing thinks that sales will happen if the branding is done correctly, and your team might think that marketing exists solely to provide leads.
However natural this approach might feel, it’s causing a lot of damage within the business as a whole. Teams that struggle against each other to achieve a shared purpose will not reach their full potential for profit — or long-term growth — until they set aside their differences and become fully integrated.
Mark Scrivner is the founder and CEO of ECOS, a cloud-based, digital presentation platform that helping bridge the gap between sales and marketing. Mark is also the founder and COO of SnapShot Interactive, a Nashville-based, full-service digital agency that provides high-quality video production, award-winning web design and development, and creative online marketing strategies.