How to bridge the gap between Sales and Marketing
Sales and Marketing – Finding Common Ground…
In any business, particularly a growing one, there can sometimes be conflict between the sales and marketing departments. This division affects performance and of course, morale too. Inevitably, as a company grows, it becomes more marketing-led, particularly as it develops a brand identity and looks to the future for new opportunities and strategies.
These conflicts are usually of either a budgetary or cultural nature. Budgetary problems arise when these two departments compete for funding and neither are satisfied with how the other spends its money. Sales tends to be focused on short-term goals and Marketing has a vision for the future. Marketing wants sales to sell the price, but Sales favours lower prices as this means the product is easier to sell and volume of sales goes up.
Culturally, the type of people who work in the two departments are diametrically opposed. The typical marketer works behind a desk, is analytical, project focused and spends time looking for the long-term strategic advantage. The sales staff member is a people person, often working out in the field or in close contact with the customer. They focus on the immediate sale and the short-term view, seeing the marketing staff as desk-bound and out of touch.
There are four main types of relationship between Sales and Marketing:
Number 1 – Undefined
The two departments focus on their own tasks and meet only on an ad-hoc basis to resolve conflicts rather than working together on mutually beneficial agendas.
Number 2 – Defined
There’s a clear definition of boundaries and the tasks allocated to each department. There is good communication in areas of overlap which may cause conflict. Open lines of communication and regular meetings see these groups working together to meet common goals.
Number 3 – Aligned
Boundaries between groups are flexible and each understands the role of the other. Joint planning and training creates a rapport and ability to work together towards goals such as landing a new account.
Number 4 – Integrated
Boundaries here are blurred and the two teams work together, sharing roles, perhaps dividing energies to focus on key accounts. Marketing and Sales no longer pull against one another but share responsibilities, tasks, successes and failures.
So how can businesses bridge the gap between Sales and Marketing?
Looking at these four scenarios will help a company to decide if Sales and Marketing need to move from one category to another.
Do the two groups need to be more aligned or are things working well currently? This will largely depend on how often conflicts arise and how often Sales and Marketing compete for resources.
The first step in improving any relationship is to work on communication. Regular meetings that focus not only on resolving conflicts but on introducing key shared goals are essential. Giving the two departments ways to create a dialogue with the chance to work towards a major opportunity builds bridges.
In these meetings, staff learn who to contact and how responsibilities are divided up. Allow job shadowing so there’s more of an understanding of opposing roles. Appoint a member of staff from Marketing to work closely with the Sales force to keep a finger on the marketplace pulse and the immediate needs of the target audience.
Moving your Sales and Marketing teams physically closer together will start to create a rapport of itself as people who work in close proximity work more effectively together and also create bonds. This also enables the Marketing department to obtain feedback from Sales on current strategies and how well they are working. This allows for organic adjustment of the long term brand strategy as well as being responsive to short term changes.
Splitting Marketing into two groups, upstream (strategic) and downstream (tactical) can also have a big impact. Downstream marketers help sales people with leads and develop promotions and advertising campaigns. Upstream marketers look to the long term whilst monitoring the needs of the customer.
Lastly, creating shared revenue goals and rewards will make sure Sales and Marketing are more engaged and task focused. Although sales staff often work on commission and marketers don’t, it’s still possible to create a reward system that will work well to motivate staff to work in tandem and in harmony.
Bringing the Marketing and Sales departments together will improve a company’s market share, increase the bottom line and allow your company to compete effectively in today’s marketplace whilst still moving towards long term goals. Staff will have improved morale, be willing to explore new ideas and have a greater understanding of their colleagues’ roles.