Customer Experience News & Trends

6 best practices to end the Sales-Marketing feud

It’s no secret: Marketing and Sales get along like the Hatfields and McCoys. And each year, companies struggle to get these two departments to work together. This guide can help your feuding departments finally flourish as a unit.

First, let’s review the problems that result from a lack of cohesion between the two:

Marketing’s efforts are wasted. The biggest issues between these departments stem from a lack of communication, especially when it comes to leads. It’s Marketing’s job to develop leads and Sales’ job to turn those leads into customers. The problem starts when each department has a clear — but different — idea of an ideal lead, and then Marketing begins bringing in leads that aren’t optimal, according to Sales.

Then, instead of discussing the issue with Marketing, Sales complains about the low-quality leads and struggles to turn any into customers. As a result, some leads are abandoned altogether. And when Sales doesn’t use its leads, Marketing’s efforts are wasted. The relationship then becomes adversarial instead of cooperative, and the two departments shut each other out instead of working through their problems.

Marketing materials are suboptimal. Over time, shifts occur within a company’s customer demographics. Since Sales works more closely with customers, it’s easier for Sales people to see these changes as they happen. But if Marketing doesn’t receive this information, it could continue developing materials to target a demographic that is no longer prevalent among the company’s customers.

Sales suffers — in performance and morale. Once again, without having a conversation and coming to an agreement on what the best leads look like, Marketing may continue generating leads that are suboptimal in Sales’ eyes. As a result, Sales will be reluctant to follow up with those leads — and performance will suffer. Poor performance leads to low morale and low morale hinders performance even further, creating a vicious cycle for Sales — and a more contentious relationship with Marketing.

Customer relations suffer. There are three ways existing customers pay the price when Sales and Marketing fail to open up the lines of communication:

  1. Customers receive duplicate promotions from Marketing and Sales because the departments don’t discuss their mailing/e-mailing strategies.
  2. Customers only receive general promotions from Marketing, even when Sales knows the customers’ specific interests.
  3. Changes Marketing makes to promotional materials without Sales’ knowledge leaves Sales reps unable to discuss these changes with customers.

Ending the Feud

Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this. Following these six best practices can help you get the departments working together:

1. Create a customer profile. As mentioned earlier, the leads that Marketing pursues might not actually make the best customers for Sales. Therefore, the teams should meet periodically to agree upon the characteristics of the ideal lead. Once the two come to a consensus on what an ideal lead looks like (based on things like job title, industry, business size, etc.), there should be no excuse for Marketing to generate suboptimal leads and for Sales not to pursue them.

2. Attend each other’s meetings. At each department meeting, have at least two representatives from the other department. Not only will the extra voices provide insight from a different perspective, they’ll also be able to identify any discrepancies in the information the departments share with customers.

3. Share information. Each team has information that’s beneficial to the other.

Since Sales is in closer contact with customers, it’s likely to be the first to see changes in who’s buying the product, what they like or dislike about it and how the product’s being used. In the interest of keeping marketing materials and ideal prospect profiles up-to-date, Sales should tell Marketing about any changes in this information.

Meanwhile, Marketing is creating all the ads and promotions. If Sales isn’t kept up-to-date on tweaks to this information, it could be sending messages to customers contrary to what Marketing’s literature says.

Improving communication doesn’t require drastic changes. It may be as simple as sending the other department a monthly email covering departmental changes, goals or concerns.

4. Integrate sales and marketing software. By using the same customer relationship management (CRM) software, Sales will be able to see the leads Marketing is developing, and Marketing will be able to see if Sales is following up on those leads in a timely manner. Once they have their hands in the same pot, they’ll be able to use statistical data — not emotional grudges — to hold each other accountable.

5. Sit together. Members from Sales and Marketing should sit beside each other while working. That way if any questions arise, the other department will be right there to answer them. This will foster a united “team” feeling while improving communication and collaboration.

6. Create a service agreement. Write an agreement that says if Marketing does A, Sales will do B. For example: if Marketing generates a lead meeting a certain criteria, Sales will follow-up on that lead within 24 hours. This will help create accountability through clearly written responsibilities.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.