How sales teams can better partner with their marketing counterparts

It’s not uncommon for sales and marketing teams to be after the same goal but walking very different lines to get there.

The creating, tracking, and handoff from Marketing Qualified Leads to Sales Qualified Leads is a beautiful thing when all the processes are in place and the communication is flowing.

However, when Sales and Marketing Teams are marching to the beat of very different drums, it can create an atmosphere more like a dysfunctional family dynamic rather than a well-oiled machine.

Here are four ways you can avoid going to inter-departmental therapy, improve communication, and better partner with your marketing team.

Break down the silos

For whatever reason, silos repeatedly crop up between sales teams and front-line employees, between sales teams and marketing teams. A “silo” is when information is kept within a specific department; communication breaks down and departments quickly have no idea what their co-workers across the hall are doing.

However, when your goal is to find the best solution for a potential customer — to sell — it makes absolutely no sense to put divisive walls between departments.

Take a good hard look at the walls, figuratively and literally, between your sales and marketing teams.

Do you know what the marketing team is doing?

Does the marketing team know what the sales team is doing?

If your answer is rather vague or hazy, then your respective departments may be entering into a dangerous silo mentality. When it comes to sales, silos will negatively impact your ability to close.

If sales and marketing are not on the same page — or not even in the same book — you need to break down the silos and create a better partnership. Work to create a true “team” between both departments.

Communicate openly and often

In order to work as a cohesive team, sales and marketing departments need to communicate. They each need to be transparent in their activities and plans with each other. If possible, this can be greatly facilitated by hiring a Sales Enablement Manager — someone whose specific job is to coordinate work and open communication between sales and marketing teams.

A person in this role can help to break down silos and keep the communication flowing.

Silos can start with the best of intentions, say, a super secret project one department is working on and not quite ready to reveal. However, longstanding silos only serve to create confusion and frustration where communication and transparency should be fostered.

Work together. Go out of your way to create a project that involves your marketing and sales teams. Start small; one element of a social media campaign, for example, or work together on a flyer to make sure the message lines up across departments.

Find ways to improve communication. Talk to each other and, as crazy as this sounds, just ask what the other department is working on. You’ll find it’s easier than you think to work together when both departments have a common goal in sight.

Understand the process

As part of improving communication between sales and marketing, learn how the other department works. What is their process? How does it fall into the sales process?

Especially when silos have been allowed to build up over time, it can be difficult to break through that calcification and see the forest for the trees. That is, it can be hard to get everyone aligned and on the same track.

This can be improved by sales team members understanding how the marketing team’s process works and vice versa.

Marketing can better assist sales when they know how the sales team’s process takes over once a lead has been handed off to them, and sales can benefit from knowing how the marketing team works to gather and qualify incoming leads.

You are all working to fill the same funnel. It will only benefit both teams to understand how each other is working to do just that.

Learn from each other

Sales and marketing teams work in concert best when they each know a little bit of what their counterparts are up to. As a salesperson, this doesn’t mean that you have to go out and get a marketing degree, but it is helpful to understand how your marketing team will tackle an issue. It benefits you to learn how they work to fill the funnel.

For some reason, salespeople sometimes shun marketing and marketing people sometimes avoid sales. If you are both trying to fill the same funnel, doesn’t it make sense to know how that happens?

Attend a webinar together, tell your marketing team nice job on the new flyer. A little goes a long way to break down barriers and improve your working relationships. And when your marketing team sees that you are making an effort to understand how the whole puzzle fits together, you’ll find a team that’s more willing to help in those clutch situations.

Suddenly those last minute requests for marketing collateral are no longer impossible. Lead handoffs are smoother, the process is more compact, and your well-oiled machine is primed to move the needle and close sales.

John is a marketing and communications expert with an extensive background in document management, content marketing, and social media engagement. He loves good books, good coffee, and perfectly organized documents.

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