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5 Ways to Improve the Sales and Marketing Relationship

The relationship between the sales and marketing teams can easily be strained in any size company. It just takes one poor follow-up with a qualified lead or the marketing team not understanding what the sales team needs for the relationship to fracture.

Usually the root issue is a lack of shared vision within the company. The marketing team is approaching leads with one objective in mind, while the sales team has a completely different objective when talking to prospects.

The question that needs to be addressed is: Do the marketing and sales teams align with the vision and overall goals for the company selling your solution?

If either team is going rogue or functioning as if they are on an island separate from the other department, then it’s time for a review of how to improve the sales and marketing relationship to close more deals and generate revenue for your company.

Consider these five ways to improve the relationship between both teams and contact the ProSales Connection team to discuss how our firm can address the individual needs of your company to set more sales appointments.

1. Reinforce the Vision and Goals

Business moves so fast that it’s easy to get off track from the company’s overall vision and the ultimate goal of growing the business.

Because of that, Sales and Marketing often become two ships passing in the night not working together and merely acknowledging each other’s presence. This idea of “we’ll do our thing and you do your thing” might work in the short-term, but a chasm will eventually develop that hurts the overall business.

To re-align with a common purpose, both sides need to review the company’s objective and establish shared goals that support the mutual objectives. Essentially, these two teams needs to tie together. That includes leaders of both departments sharing in the success of the other department.

This will look different in every business, but Sales and Marketing need to establish their individual goals and then the collective goal that they will work to achieve together.

When the success of each department is dependent on the other team, it creates additional incentive for sales and marketing to function as one collective unit rather than two separate entities.

2. Be Clear About Metrics

One of the biggest reasons why the sales and marketing teams get off-track is a lack of understanding of each team’s metrics.

Marketing believes Sales should be closing x amount of deals per month, while Sales believes Marketing should be delivering x amount of leads per month. If those metrics are not clearly-defined or if it feels like one department is falling short each month, then there will be a fracture over time.

To avoid this fracture, both teams need to clearly establish metrics to hold each other accountable in the relationship. This removes subjectivity from the process by focusing on the measurable factors that define success.

However, what typically happens is these metrics were established months or years ago and now the business has changed. And the metrics have not been adjusted to match the change. The result is marketing operates under the assumption that sales still needs to close x amount of deals per month for the company to be successful. Or, sales still expects x amount of leads per month to increase their conversion opportunities.

If this is the case in your company, it’s time for a review of the metrics that will measure success for both departments. This will also help both sides come together to discuss what the other team can do to help achieve those metrics as part of their shared success.

What was assumed several months ago might not be the actual situation now. But, if neither side communicates how business has changed, then assumptions turn into frustration and eventually become a chasm.

To prevent this, be clear about the metrics that will be used by each department. Also, be clear about the metrics of the collective unit so that stakeholders can track whether each team is pulling their weight or if one team needs to pick up the pace. This increases accountability and gives team members important data to track their performance.

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3. Make a Clean Hand-off from Marketing to Sales

The hand-off. We see it in Olympics during relay races or during a football game when the quarterback hands the ball to the running back. These teams practice the hand-off repeatedly because they know how important it is to prevent a fumble and then generate momentum for the recipient.

First, we need to address the prevention aspect. If a team drops the baton or the football, it could lead to significant consequences. The same applies to marketing handing off qualified leads to the sales department.

Perhaps at an earlier stage of the company, there were only a handful of people in each department and the individuals sat around a table talking about what each side needed from each other. And, it worked.

Now, the company has grown and those relationships are not as intimate. To re-align, you need to establish a clear process to ensure the sales team is receiving qualified leads to set appointments and eventually convert to customers:

  • Define the actions that need to be taken by Marketing before handing off to Sales.
  • Establish a clear feedback loop back to Marketing from Sales.
  • Collect this feedback to analyze how the process can improve.
  • Have a conversation about how to implement improvements in the process.

To achieve success, marketing should gather the essential data points they have agreed to provide to the sales team before handing off a qualified lead. This will give the sales team a running start to schedule an appointment to discuss the company’s solution and eventually close a deal.

But, if the sales team has to backtrack to gather more information about whether the prospect actually qualifies for the solution, then Marketing did not do its job. Conversely, if Marketing hands off a qualified lead and the sales team sits on it without following up in an agreed-to timely manner, then Sales fumbled away the lead.

To improve this relationship between Sales and Marketing, the marketing team needs to align with the objective of gathering essential information for the sales team and the sales team needs to align with the objective of following up with a qualified lead in a timely manner. This will ensure a solid hand-off, reducing the risk of fumbling an opportunity.

4. Marketing Needs to Understand What Sales Needs

Within the process of making a clean hand-off from Marketing to Sales, the marketing team must understand what the sales team needs.

Feedback is essential for Sales to communicate what is working and not working so that Marketing can adjust.

There are also several key tasks for Marketing to help Sales generate more opportunities and close more deals:

  • Provide sales aids to the sales team to be more productive.
  • Design and write email templates for Sales to stay on-point with the message.
  • Create case studies that align with the sales process.
  • Obtain testimonials and reviews from clients to enhance the sales pitch and bolster engagement.
  • Write white papers that speak to the thought leaders of prospect companies.
  • Look out for industry news that could affect a prospect or market the sales team is focused on.
  • Gather other relevant information that Sales can use and tee it up for the sales team.

For example, if your company sells a software solution to the construction industry and there is a new regulation impacting construction companies, Marketing needs to make sure that Sales is aware of this development and help them be crafting a response or talking points for their customers and prospects.

Marketing has an important role feeding this information to the sales team. It also shows that Marketing is invested in the success of the sales team. This enhances the relationship between both teams through their shared success.

5. Improve the Sales and Marketing Relationship by Celebrating Success!

A final reason why Sales and Marketing get off-track is a lack of shared celebrations. What should be a big moment for your company turns into another frustration point between the two teams.

Either the sales team takes credit for closing a deal without acknowledging Marketing or the marketing team tries to steal thunder from Sales. This represents a dysfunctional, self-serving relationship that needs to be addressed:

  • Sales and Marketing should acknowledge each other when a deal is closed.
  • Sales should invite Marketing to participate in their celebration.
  • The person who generated the lead at the beginning of the process should be acknowledged.
  • The person who closed the deal at the end of the process should be acknowledged.

There should not have to be a process for celebrating a big victory, but some companies need this reminder to solidify the relationship between Sales and Marketing.

This points back to the overall thesis that a disconnected sales and marketing team will not be successful in the long run. Not only does each business leader stand to fail, but the overall business will not be able to grow if these teams are misaligned.

If your company is falling short in one of these five key areas, evaluate how you can recommend a change. Additionally, consider how ProSales Connection can work with your team to improve the relationship between Sales and Marketing by taking advantage of our No-Risk Appointment Setting Program to bridge the gap between marketing and sales with actionable sales appointments.

Mike Faherty

Mike Faherty is the Founder & CEO of ProSales Connection, a sales and marketing firm based in Houston, Texas. ProSales Connection specializes in helping B2B and technology companies grow through sales appointment setting and outsourced inside sales programs.

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