Why Can’t Sales & Marketing Just Get Along?

by Paul Castain on August 3, 2014

This is a guest post from Hoda Kamel

Many articles and blog posts revolve around how the Sales and Marketing functions are constantly fighting with each other.  Each function views the business world differently which often leads to the creation of incompatible goals between the two functional areas. Marketers tend to think that sales people are too short-term focused, whereas salespeople may complain that marketing doesn’t understand their customers and that the pricing is too high. At least, these were the complaints that I heard as a marketer.

Being a marketer for most of my professional career, I viewed sales professionals as an integral part of my team and as allies in achieving product launch goals. Maybe I was lucky to have worked in companies where the sales and marketing areas belonged to the same team. The recipe for success is simple and can be copied by any organization.

In an article from 2006 titled “Ending the War between Sales and Marketing,” published by the Harvard Business Review, Kotler, Rackham and Krishnaswamy provide straightforward solutions in regards to improving teamwork between sales and marketing. These solutions are the same techniques that the companies I worked for used.

The following are 5 actions to take to improve teamwork between Marketing and Sales:

1. Improve and Encourage Communication between sales and marketing through regular quarterly or bi-monthly meetings to highlight major opportunities or concerns. In every company that I worked for, the product management team attended the sales status review meetings to learn about the opportunities and challenges from the frontline salespeople.

2. Create Opportunities for Joint Projects or assignments so marketers and sales professionals can work together and become familiar with how each other thinks and acts. Sales personnel should sit on product planning reviews; this can be rotated among sales people. It’s also beneficial for marketers to participate on sales calls. In the process of launching a complex technological product, I accompanied several sales people on calls and listened to what the customers were saying.

3. Co-locating Sales and Marketing can contribute to better interaction. Being physically close to each other improves teamwork and collaboration. In several companies, we were co-located with sales or met with them regularly if they worked remotely.

4. Improve the Sales Force Feedback to Marketing by getting regular feedback monthly or quarterly to adjust marketing activities, and to develop contingency plans in case of problems. Key personnel on the sales team have to participate in the review cycle of marketing collateral as well.

5. Define Where Handoffs and Responsibilities Lie in the Sales and Buying Funnel. Each function highlights where their strengths lie, and then determines where the appropriate handoff to the other function is in order to optimize the sales process. Marketing tends to be more strategic, and should focus on branding, brand awareness, preferences, including product pipelines, while the sales team can focus on prospecting, defining needs, preparing proposals, negotiating contracts, and maintaining customer loyalty. A defined handoff will clear up any role ambiguity between the two functional areas.

Teamwork between sales and marketing is crucial for the success of any company. The two functions are intertwined and affect how a product and company are perceived in the market.  Therefore more effort should be done to align these two functions and help them work better together.

Hoda Kamel is a consultant, facilitator, and the President of Sinai Maple. She works with teams, organizational leaders, and business owners to develop unique solutions for organizations to improve their teamwork, communication, and strategies for conflict resolution. To learn more about Hoda and how she can help your organization, click HERE.

  • Chris Ryan

    Excellent discussion Hoda. I’ve written quite a bit about this subject in my books and used to do talks about how to bridge the gap between sales and marketing. To add to your point 5, one of the best ways to create better alignment is through a service level agreement specifying the responsibilities of each function, lead criteria, hand-off, lead nurture process and so forth.

    Chris Ryan
    Fusion Marketing Partners

  • http://www.sinaimaple.com Hoda A Kamel

    Thank you Chris! You are right. An agreement or a process between Sales and Marketing will definitely assist in identifying collaboration and hand-off points, also maintains continuity even when there is turnover in both teams.

  • Pete Primeau

    Great article Hoda! Point 1 is foundational and at times in some companies almost non existent. The best companies encourage, define, and refine communication between sales, marketing, operations, and office to optimize customer service to maximize each customer.

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