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Traditionally, sales teams and marketing teams are known to have contentious relationships. There is often friction between these two departments that leads to a long-list of problems and directly affects revenue generation for the company.
To put the problem into perspective using data, Outfunnel’s Revenue Marketing Report 2022 reveals that revenue growth is actually 70% more common among B2B organizations that have tightly aligned sales and marketing departments.
There are a variety of reasons why sales and marketing teams build barriers rather than bridges. While team dynamics, functions, structures, and culture can differ from one company to another, the traditional perceptions of sales and marketing roles still exist. Examples of long-held perceptions of disparate priorities between sales and marketing departments include:
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but it does give you a good idea of how the purposes and activities of sales and marketing teams traditionally differ and thus, why barriers are likely to form if a coordinated effort isn’t made to prevent them.
Looking beyond traditional purposes and activities, there are more reasons why barriers develop between sales and marketing departments. For example, their performance is judged differently. As a result, incentives are paid to these two groups differently.
A salesperson is typically judged and rewarded by closed sales, while a marketer’s performance is judged by the results of specific marketing programs and whether or not the results of the programs reached goals that are far more diverse than closing sales.
Furthermore, a marketer’s goals (and rewards) could be dependent on programs that take much longer to track and judge, and those programs aren’t always tied directly to a closed sale. For example, marketing programs related to brand awareness and brand differentiation can take weeks or months to evaluate in terms of whether or not they delivered the desired long-term competitive advantage to the business.
In a report published by Harvard Business Review magazine, researchers explained that sales teams focus on people while marketer’s focus on programs. Therefore, they shouldn’t be judged in the same ways.
Fortunately, the researchers did find that companies can take steps to integrate the two teams and get better results. The process requires understanding where your teams are currently in their relationship with each other, and then following best practices to achieve integration.
According to the Harvard Business Review report, there are four types of relationships that sales and marketing teams could fall into: undefined, defined, aligned, and integrated. The goal is to become fully-integrated to achieve the best results.
An undefined team is one where sales and marketing teams are completely siloed. They work independent of one-another with their own goals and projects. It’s unlikely that one team knows what the other team is working on until a problem comes up.
A defined team is one where processes have been put in place to mitigate problems between sales and marketing. In this relationship, both teams know what the other department is responsible for, and they stick to their own tasks and projects.
Moving a step closer to integration is the aligned relationship where clear boundaries have been set, but those boundaries aren’t set in stone. Instead, the two teams work together and confer with each other.
Finally, a fully integrated team is one where the boundaries between departments become blurred. Systems, processes, and metrics are shared, and budgets are flexible to bend with the needs of the organization (i.e., to get the best results). Everyone works in a coordinated effort where a rising tide lifts all boats (or the opposite).
Alyssa Gatto, Vice President, Marketing & Client Success at Cannabiz Media, shares how important integration is based on her experience leading the marketing team at Cannabiz Media. She explains, “Working in lockstep with the sales team is a no-brainer to me as a marketer. After all, they are our boots on the ground working directly with the target audience. By having one-on-one conversations with our prospects, they can report on what approaches are resonating the most in a more substantive way than website and email analytics can tell me. That intel directly influences the formation of our marketing strategies and messaging, which in turn, creates even more content and assets for the sales team to leverage.”
Integration is a win-win for both sales and marketing teams. As you can imagine, when everyone works together to achieve agreed upon goals in a fully integrated relationship, results improve.
Davis Thode, Vice President of Sales at Cannabiz Media, explains what integration can look like when you put it into action based on his experience leading the sales team at Cannabiz Media. He says, “Sales and marketing are very different but have to work in sync to reach their common goal – to generate revenue. Without a good marketing strategy, your sales team will struggle to get new qualified leads. If your sales process is unorganized and your sales reps don't have an efficient way to grind through prospects, it won't matter how many leads your marketing efforts produce. Open communication and trust in the other team's abilities are imperative to reaching your shared goal.”
Removing barriers between sales and marketing teams starts with your organization’s leadership. They must buy into the integration process. In addition, they must lead by example so employees are motivated expend the effort required to integrate the strategies, priorities, and tactics of two very different teams. This will require open and transparent communication, which is one of the most important keys to successful sales and marketing integration.