The history of rocky relations between sales and marketing teams goes about as far back as corporate culture itself. Despite having the best intentions, sales and marketing professionals often find themselves on opposite sides of a metaphoric language barrier. While marketers tend to focus on content creation to attract leads, reps care more about content curation to capture those leads –– making it difficult to bridge the gap between them with common terms.
As with any relationship, communication is key. Open dialogue lays the groundwork for a fruitful partnership, streamlines business processes, and boosts ROI. By establishing and observing some basic rules of engagement, sellers and marketers can create a common language that suits both teams’ needs and allows business to thrive.
Here are our picks for the top tips that sales and marketing leaders can follow to improve communication and alignment between sellers and marketers for better sales and marketing relationships.
1.) Don’t ghost your colleagues.
A strong relationship begins with a strong commitment, and it’s important to remember that showing up and being available are both part of the deal. There’s no room for ignoring messages or refusing to meet face-to-face if you’re looking to build a healthy interdepartmental culture.
Always keep in mind that no one likes getting ghosted. The less you engage with your teammates, the less likely it is that you’ll ever get on the same page or be able to secure a satisfying bottom line for your company. Extend your colleagues the respect and courtesy they deserve by addressing their concerns head-on and showing them how devoted you are to your shared goals.
2.) Listen as much as you talk.
Once you’ve established an open line of communication, make sure it’s a two-way street. Don’t shy away from letting your friends on the other team know about your frustrations, but be prepared to hear their side of the story, too. Make a plan to earn each other’s trust by incorporating feedback from both sides into your shared business practices. Some examples:
- If you think last year’s winning campaign could use a shake-up, let your colleagues know. Leverage end-of-funnel metrics to support your argument for change, and then offer constructive ideas for revisions.
- Invite marketers to review pitch videos and pledge to implement their feedback into sales-team processes to make content more impactful in the long run.
- If you notice that certain pieces of content never hit the mark, don’t settle for complaining about it — instead, set up an investigative meeting between your teams so you can assess the situation together and come up with strategies to fix it.
As is the case with all worthwhile relationships, no single party should ever have the upper hand. When you’re working toward sales and marketing alignment, you should be prepared to speak on equal terms and to give as much as you get in return.
3.) Be a student as well as a teacher.
Sales leaders are uniquely positioned to offer insights to the marketing team based on how reps observe buyers interacting with the content that’s been pitched. Use any applicable tools you can to educate your colleagues regarding the efficiency of content — but don’t forget that this arrangement should also be give-and-take.
Just as sellers can point to end-of-funnel findings to compel the marketing team to up their game, marketers can use top-of-funnel content engagement insights to guide sellers toward better sales strategies. It’s important for both teams to be ready to learn as well as to teach. In the same way that sellers might have a better sense of what happens out in the field, marketers likely have a more intimate knowledge of the content archive. Be willing to take advantage of your teammates’ expertise, just as you would ask them to rely on yours. Make use of a friendly exchange of data and ideas to keep both your teams up to speed and establish a shared vocabulary.
4.) Invest in a digital “mediator.”
Of course, when you engage in data exchange, all of that data has to come from somewhere –– and that’s where martech comes in. It’s essential to have a flow of information between sales and marketing teams, and the easiest way to accomplish that is to keep accurate records on both sides and to aggregate assets and data with the aid of sales tools.
In such cases, the benefits of a software solution can be enormous. A sales engagement platform, for example, can keep precise track of metrics pertaining to buyer engagement (i.e., “Who’s reading our content?”, “How long are they spending on each page?”, “Did the asset help convert to a sale?,” etc.), making it easy for both sellers and marketers to tweak their strategies in order to accommodate buyer trends.
Similarly, a sales enablement solution can serve as an all-purpose repository for content assets and training materials while simultaneously keeping tabs on seller activity across all buyer stages. This type of tool encourages more thoughtful content creation among marketers (thanks to seller engagement feedback and analytics surrounding pitch activity), and more selective content curation among sellers (via carefully constructed playbooks and pitch decks from marketing). If you’re not employing a digital interdepartmental mediator, you’re missing out on an essential “translation” tool that can maintain a clear dialog between both teams.
5.) Remember who it’s all for.
With all the interplay between marketing and sales, it’s easy to forget who gets caught in the middle: your buyers. Sometimes marketing and sales work so hard to ensure their respective needs are met, they begin to overlook the needs of the most important person in the whole business equation.
Nurturing buyers together should always be your primary objective. As Linda Arledge Powell of MediaSource observes, “It all comes down to focusing on the audience,” meaning that, at the end of the day, both sellers and marketers should let buyer behavior dictate priorities. Powell suggests looking to your shared audience in order to “create a cohesive team with all areas working together under a unified structure.” By this logic, buyer trends should be the connective tissue that binds your teams together. After all, your buyers represent the strongest link between your respective departments, and buyers alone have the power to make or break your ROI. Don’t ignore them in favor of short-term satisfaction or petty interdepartmental disputes. Marketers, sellers, and buyers will all walk away a lot happier if you obey this simple rule.
We hope the above suggestions can help guide you toward a lasting relationship with your sales and marketing teammates –– one that’s built on trust, mutually-assured success, and a language that both sides can understand.
Eleni Hagen is a content strategist for Highspot, the industry’s most advanced sales enablement platform that helps organizations close the loop across marketing, sales, and customers.