Quick question: How often does your marketing director interact with your sales team?
C. When they have to
D. Not enough
E. All of the above
The truth is, for many businesses sales and marketing are fairly separate responsibilities.
Marketing is responsible for creating social media posts, for designing and creating brochures and flyers, for buying digital advertising, and, of course, for the dreaded “re-brand.” Marketing departments frequently sign up for trade shows or industry events and might even dictate some objectives in terms of leads and scripts for the salespeople that staff the booth.
Sales departments are typically responsible for cold-calling, managing and growing accounts, prospecting, closing new deals, developing contracts and proposals, networking, and the overall acquisition of new business. Of course, to accomplish these tasks they rely on the aforementioned tools that the marketing department cooked up. So what gives? Why isn’t there more collaboration?
- Sales and marketing typically involve different skill sets: Marketing folks are often creative in the artistic sense: writers, designers, graphic artists, photographers, software users (think digital marketing). Salespeople are traditionally “people persons”—fond of conversation, introductions, chatting, and not afraid of putting themselves out there. Naturally, these two groups gravitate toward very different tasks!
- Companies have simply been organized this way for a long time. This separation of duties may have worked in the past, but not so much anymore. Old habits die hard, and once an organizational style becomes commonplace it takes an investment of time, energy, and money—resources frequently being spent elsewhere at a business—to change it.
- It’s “good enough.” If it ain’t broke (so broken that it’s shutting the company down) businesses rarely fix it. So if money is coming in, payroll is handled, and ownership is making money, a big structural change is unlikely regardless of how much better sense it might make on paper.
Perhaps a better question is, what can a business do differently to create increased synergy between their marketing and sales teams to drive more growth?
- Record your selling process(es).
Not only is this important for your sales team as a standard best practice, it also provides a clear picture for marketing to create around (think training new hires, and having a gold standard for accountability purposes). Are face-to-face visits the primary way you close accounts? Then marketing should probably focus on tools to make these conversations more successful—like leave-behind literature. Is your target demographic men over the age of 60? Then the marketing department should probably not focus on an expensive and in-depth Facebook campaign, even if it’s super cool.
- Explain the goal behind marketing campaigns to the sales team and sales management, then be open to input.
Perhaps it makes sense to the marketing department to create a series of blogs to load into an email drip campaign—BUT, the sales director has been focusing on cold-calling because the department gets frequent complaints from clients and prospects alike about email overload. In this case, we avoid investing in something that totally doesn’t make sense.
- Define roles and expectations.
We see it time and time again: Salespeople expect marketing campaigns to have the phones ringing off the hook with hot leads. Marketing expects salespeople to follow up on every single lead they earned from a creative advertisement. Finger pointing ensues and growth doesn’t happen. By clearly, and collaboratively, defining goals of campaigns and processes, the marketing team can support the efforts of the sales staff—and everyone is reading from the same sheet of music.