Fostering a Collaborative and Mutually Beneficial Relationship Between Marketing and Sales

In the B2B world, marketing often gets a bad rap within sales circles. It’s a world filled with blurry lines, unclear responsibilities, and playing the blame game when things go awry. In a recent survey of sales and marketing executives, 87 percent of responses regarding the opposite functional group were negative. Sales teams often refer to marketing as “irrelevant,” “academic,” or “roadblocks.” Meanwhile, marketing frequently views sales as “cowboys,” “reckless,” and “narrow-minded.” Fostering a collaborative relationship will not only create a better work environment, it will improve the way you do business.

Both sales and marketing are revenue-generating roles, neither one should be considered solely a support function. Marketing’s primary role is to build awareness and drive demand among target audiences; they attract new leads. Sales’ main role is presenting the product or service to potential customers to close those leads.

Clarify the Roles

Having a clear definition of roles and responsibilities is one of the best ways to create a successful relationship. There are certain skills and to-dos that fall under each function. Marketing generally controls tasks such as strategy, brand management, content (both text and images) development, inbound and outbound efforts, and website management. Sales teams are responsible for tasks that involve knowing detailed information about each prospect and their needs, connecting with the customer one on one, and knowing what conversations they’ve been having with the competition. However, the specific tasks of each function are not as imperative as making certain each team knows which tasks they’re responsible for.

If both functions are unclear on what the other is doing, it can create tension and animosity between the groups. There is also nothing more counterproductive for a company than having two teams complete the same work, or, worse yet, having two teams working against one another. Evaluating your company’s needs and goals should help dictate and define specific roles for both marketing and sales. Whatever those roles may be, they need to facilitate integration between the two departments. It takes multiple touchpoints across both marketing and sales to move the prospect from one level of the buying funnel to the next.

Communicate and Communicate More

Communication is another important factor of any successful relationship. Effective communication needs to take place at every level. Marketing often executes on specific tactics as part of an all-encompassing strategy designed to reach prospects. These tactics repeatedly shift to adjust to the demands of the market and changing brand goals. Being proactive about communicating these changes to your sales team will help them be prepared and more effective at their job.

Just as marketing provides strategy for the sales team, the sales team can provide insight to marketing. Sales teams are constantly dealing with customers face to face. This puts them at an advantage when it comes to gathering feedback from the field. Keeping an open line of communication will ensure both sides are heard and give both teams the opportunity to learn from a different perspective. Roughly 77 percent of best-in-class organizations report having “good” or “strong” sales and marketing relationships when leaders of each team meet regularly.

Beyond meetings, the right tools can fascilitate effective communication between the two teams. Marketing and customer relationship management tools like Hubspot and Salesforce maintain customer and prospect records in one place, so both sales and marketing have access to the information they need to do their jobs and do them well.

Share the Numbers

Communication goes beyond just words. One of the best ways to foster collaboration is to align both functions through shared metrics and goals. Sales and marketing teams need to be speaking the same language. If sales uses one set of terms and metrics to measure the sales process and marketing uses another, the two teams can waste valuable time and resources working against each other. When utilizing similar metrics, both functions can create achievable goals that will motivate them and foster a mutually beneficial relationship. Individual goals are important, but a shared goal can help unify the teams. For example, marketing may consider meeting a demand-generation goal as a win. However, this means nothing to sales if those leads don’t result in deals. Identifying a common, underlying goal will get both teams on the same track to bolster the entire company’s bottom line.

Historically, marketing and sales have been at odds. While the two must coexist, not many have mastered the art of a mutually beneficial relationship. In most companies, you’ll still find some degree of contention between the two departments. This is slowly changing as brands begin to realize the stronger the relationship, the more successful both functions are. Effectively developing a collaborative relationship between sales and marketing can foster an environment that is more productive, more dynamic, and more profitable.