Do your sales and marketing teams collaborate as well as they should?

Do your sales and marketing teams collaborate as well as they should?

Most executives are well aware of an inherent contradiction between two of their most important departments: sales and marketing. At first glance, they seem fairly similar, but they have differences that can lead to friction if not properly managed. In this blog, we'll take a look at the functions of sales and marketing, explore the importance of each, and highlight ways to merge their activities towards greater collaboration and improved productivity.

What is 'sales'?

Without wishing to state the obvious, 'sales' is the act of actually selling your organisation's goods and services. As a result, sales teams are usually concentrated on the bottom line, sales targets, or achieving a specific number of units sold. The sales process starts as soon as your business has generated a customer lead, often due to your marketing department's efforts. Once the lead has been generated, the sales team takes over and attempts to convert the lead into a customer.

Ultimately, sales is all about generating revenue. Many sales teams have goals or quotas that they try to hit each week, month, or quarter. Managing sales teams effectively is crucial to most businesses but can be challenging, especially when teams are working remotely or across a large corporation. In addition, sales departments may require dedicated resources which sometimes clash with or contradict the efforts of your marketing team. Some of the most common sales strategies include:

  • Cold calling potential leads
  • Delivering sales presentations
  • Making direct sales to customers
  • Price negotiation and giving discounts
  • Contacting potential clients who have expressed an interest but have not purchased anything yet

Each of these strategies involves directly interacting with a customer or potential customer and can sometimes concentrate on the here and now rather than developing a long-term relationship with a client or potential client.

What is marketing?

Marketing is complementary to sales - it's all about generating the leads that will then be used to make a sale. Marketing aims to raise awareness of your products and services - often in the face of fierce competition from your competitors. Marketing plans frequently involve:

  • Selecting the specific products and services you are going to sell
  • Determining which customers to target for different campaigns 
  • Choosing the right communication channels
  • Determining the ideal price points to maximise leads

Each of these steps should be data-driven and focused on long-term gain. Marketing is a long game and outcomes may not be immediate. There may also be some tension between marketing and sales - for example, the sales team may want to offer a discount that was not part of the marketing strategy for a particular product. Or a marketing activity may use resources that the sales team feels would be better used for their projects or objectives.

Why keep marketing and sales separate?

Simply put, marketing and sales can get in each other's way if not properly managed. Marketing teams attempt to reach as many people as they can with each campaign. Sales, in contrast, is all about connecting with a single individual or customer. Marketing is also all about the big picture and is especially concerned with how your brand is represented. Marketing can be short-term or long-term but typically takes a medium to long-term focus since it involves aspects like brand identity, brand awareness, and building relationships.  

Marketing teams typically use data analysis to make decisions about which audiences to target. They often reach conclusions that apply to large groups of people - such as a particular demographic - but which may not apply to individuals. Sales focus on persuading a single person at a time to commit to a purchase.

Ensuring sales and marketing work together

It's important to align the sales and marketing activities of your company and there are a number of ways to do this. Make sure that your sales and marketing teams have regular meetings so that they can align their objectives and discuss areas where they may overlap. You should also clearly define who is in charge of decision-making. For example, if your marketing or sales teams need to speak to your product development team, only one of those teams should be the go-to department for your product development people, not both. 

It can also be useful to create opportunities for your sales and marketing people to collaborate on shared projects. These can include attending industry events together or taking team-building courses to help them communicate effectively and decrease friction. Communication is king and good communication between your sales and marketing teams is business-critical. If required, appoint a chief compliance officer to ensure that both departments follow agreed strategies in a way that streamlines productivity and secures company data. Companies that collaborate in this way perform better than companies that maintain competition between both departments.

Here's a simple example of how both departments can collaborate. Let's say your sales and marketing teams want to work together to come up with a new email marketing campaign.  Email marketing generates buyer leads, which sends prospects to your website for where they can see special offers and other incentives. Marketing analytics indicates which potential buyers are most interested and these prospects are contacted by the sales team. Meanwhile, the marketing department collates feedback from the sales team and tailors the next email campaign so that it is even more effective than the last. It's a virtuous circle. 

And finally…

As we have seen, marketing and sales are not the same, but they are complementary. It's in the interests of both teams to work together for maximum success. Getting sales and marketing to work together should be pretty straightforward as they are basically on the same side. If they integrate and work well together, they will be better placed to adapt to changing industry trends and the brighter your company's prospects will be. 

by Lee Li Feng | 27 Sep 23

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