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Uniting your Sales and Marketing Teams Once and For All

Sales and marketing have been separate for far too long. This schism between the two departments has become so entrenched, that often the two departments rub each other up the wrong way. However, in truth they complement each other; they’re yin to each other’s yang. Those on the side of marketing might say that the…

Sales and marketing have been separate for far too long. This schism between the two departments has become so entrenched, that often the two departments rub each other up the wrong way. However, in truth they complement each other; they’re yin to each other’s yang. Those on the side of marketing might say that the sales people are too pushy; those on the side of sales might say that they are active and marketing is passive.

But integrating sales and marketing is becoming imperative. There has never been a better time to proclaim that it needs to be “Sales AND Marketing,” not “Sales VERSUS Marketing.”

Before we start peace talks, we need to establish the usual activities of the two groups:

Marketing usually includes:

  • Interacting and promoting on social media
  • Direct mail campaigning via email and snail mail
  • Establishing brand awareness and company image
  • Magazine and online advertising
  • General PR and dealing with the press
  • Marketing efforts lead to sales involvement

Sales usually includes:

  • Direct interaction with customers
  • Cold calling and telesales
  • Negotiation with customers to close a sale
  • Cross- and up-selling
  • Arises from marketing efforts

Simply put, marketing starts the conversation, sales closes it. This should highlight the importance of them working together.

Call a Truce

To put it very basically; marketing gathers prospects and nurtures interest. Sales continues the conversation and closes a sale.

But then what happens?

The customer doesn’t buy again in a while. So who’s responsible for getting them back? Sales could do it with a cold call. Marketing could do it with a mailout campaign. But whichever track they go down they need to be on the same page. Doing both might seem pushy and desperate, but doing neither can mean that the customer forgets about you entirely; though of course this part of a transaction is not the only situation where the two departments need to strategise together

I’ll now take this opportunity to point out that I’m not talking about creating a totally blended team where each person performs functions for both sales and marketing purposes (unless you have a very unusual team who are 100% great at both). Sales and marketing are two very different skillsets, and as such the talents and experience often don’t transfer well. So don’t try and go forcing square pegs into round holes!

Integrating the Two

Before you act, take a step back and looking at things from a customer’s perspective. They don’t necessarily know the difference when they are dealing with a marketing effort, or when they are talking to a sales person. To them it might as well be one cohesive whole. This objective focus on the customer experience as the end result may throw out a few surprising overlaps between the sales and marketing functions.

Now, time for action. Firstly, both teams need to be made aware of any plans to unite them. This integration effort needs to come from each individual. Depending on your team, you may want to leave a week or so for the idea to settle before you start moving forward; especially if you are in the unfortunate position of bringing together two teams who do occasionally conflict. Give them this time to vent any frustrations or bring up any concerns, so you can all (hopefully) proceed with clearer heads.

Next up, you need to set clear outlines of both teams. Their responsibilities, regular tasks and boundaries need to be made clear to each group; as well as nurturing a shared understanding of the goals, targets and metrics that are used to record performance for each team. You may also want to reassure certain team members that their job isn’t changing, but you are simply bringing the two teams together under one cohesive umbrella.

Another activity that you may want to consider is to arrange for key members of each team to sit in on important activities of the other; have a marketing person listen in on some sales calls, and a sales person sit in and observe the meeting and process of putting together an email mailout, for example. The idea here is not for them to learn the other person’s job inside-out; we don’t want them to walk a mile in the other’s shoes; it’s just to get the gist to open them up to getting their heads together on how certain practices can complement each other (and indeed how the other spends his or her day).

One big no-no that needs to stop now; separate sales and marketing meetings. Both departments should be fully aware of the ranges, products or services that the other is being told to promote. Keeping them separate opens you up to all manner of embarrassing “left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” style faux-pas (which are always worst when they’re in front of customers). A joined team needs a joined meeting; so also be aware that that one meeting is likely to take the same time as both separate meetings did. Don’t try and scrimp on time now because it’s a single meeting!

Another tip to increase integration here is to use ideal prospect or customer profiles. If you don’t know what these are, Hubspot have two very informational pieces here and here, and Honor Clement-Hayes illustrates how they are practically used here. Put simply, they are fictional characters based on your typical and target demographics. the more personal you can make them the better. Make both marketing and sales aware of these profiles, and what makes each “character” tick. Refer to them by name. This further cements integration by sharpening focus; without this, both departments may have very different ideas of who the ideal prospects are, and the most accurate demographic information you can use from your existing and past clients in creating these personas, the better.

Likewise, it’s a good idea to create set definitions and metrics to discern different types of leads and different types of sale; this way, everyone’s on the same page with regards where any customer/lead is in the sales process. This will help with any handover to other staff, and serves to keep everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. If there are any definitions that are open to interpretation – nail them down! Let there be no vagueness! Also set reports and metrics to monitor progress of both sales and marketing functions, so you can all keep an eye on what’s working and what isn’t.

And Finally

As with any effort in business, you need to refine and improve at any opportunity. Don’t go resting on those laurels! If there is a problem, or a way something can be done more efficiently – by all means tweak it!

All-in-all, the two teams need to be seen as two parts of a cohesive whole with total level pegging. Don’t entrust more information to one department than the other, and don’t assign more budget to one than the other where possible. Especially if your teams have a history of even the smallest conflict. Any perceived inequality can make any distrust of the other team far worse.

Remember that any dysfunction or conflict has an impact on a company’s bottom line. The more integrated a company can be, the smoother all processes will become. Good Luck!

[bctt tweet=”Want to integrate your sales & marketing teams but don’t know where to start?”]

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