No one wants to clash with her co-workers, but conflict inevitably has a way of happening. This is particularly true in the middle of the sales funnel, where marketing teams overlap and intersect with sales teams.

Much of this tension stems from disparate goals. Marketers tend to play the numbers game, working diligently to drum up as many leads as possible. Salespeople are more focused on generating revenue, spending time to foster relationships with leads they believe they can close. While marketers like to cast the widest net possible, salespeople don’t always like everything that’s caught.

Several studies reveal the grim reality of this discord: Most companies suffer from poor collaboration between sales and marketing. Productivity woes related to these alignment issues cost businesses about $1 trillion per year. If creating a harmonious workforce isn’t enough motivation, business owners who care about their companies’ bottom lines would be smart to soothe any strife between the departments.

Hashing It Out

As with most conflicts, any tension between marketing and sales teams can be resolved with good communication. To help foster that dialogue and ensure everyone feels like part of the same team, here are four questions to have the departments pose to each other:

  • What questions and objections have you heard from prospects recently?
    When marketing asks sales this question, they learn more about customer needs. Marketers want to create content capable of persuading customers who might buy products or services from their company, so this insight can be tremendously useful.

  • How can we support you with content?
    Marketing departments should think of themselves as sales with a budget. They should support their sales counterparts with appropriate content, email messaging, templates, and anything else that might improve the customer experience and reduce the time and energy the sales team spends on nonselling activities.

  • What are the conversion rates and sales velocity for leads from new sources?

Marketing specializes in finding new ways to get the word out, but that doesn’t mean every opportunity delivers the same results. If your sales team says leads from recent webinars are harder to move through the pipeline than other prospects, marketing should nurture those leads longer before they’re ready for sales conversations.

  • Do we still agree on our definition of a marketing-qualified lead?

It’s imperative to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the definition of marketing-qualified leads. In the same way businesses naturally evolve, this definition should be flexible to accommodate change.

Bridging the Gap

Once you’ve established an open dialogue between the two departments, it’s important to prioritize their alignment. Make sure the C-suite sees the importance of this collaboration. Set up regular meetings between sales and marketing leaders, and encourage both departments to talk through conflicts as they arise.

Above all else, develop habits that will help sales and marketing exchange knowledge. Whether it’s creating an internal email to detail every newly won customer or having members of your marketing team sit near sales and listen to calls, the key is making sure marketing understands what’s driving people to purchase the company’s product.

Our team has found some success by encouraging a half-open door policy between marketing at sales, enabling the sales team to walk into our marketing area and directly communicate with us about problems with leads. Marketing isn’t obligated to do anything about a specific lead, but those conversations help ensure our process is working as intended.

Sales and marketing are two crucial components of every company, though some conflict can seep into their working relationship over time. Effective and open communication can help alleviate this strife, ensuring both teams are pulling in the same direction.

How well do your marketing and sales teams work together? What is the biggest source of conflict between these departments at your organization?


Aseem Badshah is the founder and CEO of Socedo, a demand generation system that helps marketers discover, engage, and qualify leads through social media to increase revenue at scale. Aseem has been a leader in the social media marketing space for more than eight years.