Want to know why sales and marketing hate each other? Look no further than the way the two are measured. Sales is measured on a single element, closed business. Sure there are secondary metrics that matter, like the speed of sales (days sales outstanding), effienceny, average deal or subscription size and so on, but at the end of the day there is a single metric that matters and that is revenue added to the top line. Period, full stop.
Marketing? Despite the push towards tangible and objective metrics such as marketing qualified lead to sales qualified lead conversion ratio, the fact of the matter marketing metrics lean a little more towards the subjective. And even if a marketing team is incentivized by assisting revenue growth there are not many sales managers and leaders in the world that think marketing has a dramatic impact on their success.
And that is exactly where the conflict arises. Sales is quick to believe they are not getting the support that they need from marketing and slow to admit that what marketing does makes a difference. Marketing on the other hand frequently believes that their sales brethren ignores their well-crafted messaging and demand generating activity. Many professional marketers just want sales to stick to the script, to rely on the message and the packaging.
Why do sales and marketing hate each other? They lack empathy for one another. It is as simple as that.
So what can be done to better align sales and marketing teams?
Depends on the perspective from which you are coming.
What Should Marketing Do?
This is probably the most critical factor in pulling together warring sales and marketing teams. But be careful here, it is going to take a tremendous amount of humility on the marketing team’s part. Ready? Ok, here it is.
Marketing has to make it a priority to understand better what the sales team is faced with on the day to day. Marketing absolutely positively does NOT understand what it is like to sell. Once marketing admits this fact they are free to sort out what it is to be a sales professional. How is the sales pro’s day mapped out? How are they prospecting? What are the key triggers that immediately identify to them they are on a good hunt for business? When do they punt and move on to the next account? What are they doing to nurture their networks so that they have a head start on filling their pipeline up when it ebbs below a certain point.
Notice anything about these particular questions? Not a one of them has anything to do with marketing. These are all critical factors of conducting one’s self as an account rep, and nothing about these factors even considers all that great marketing material the marketing team has built over the last six months. Why? Becuase the account rep does anything and everything in their immediate control to get a prospect into the sales process. If a marketing piece of content ends up helping them do that great, but they don’t assume it, and they do not depend upon it.
What Should Sales Do?
Sales need to admit to themselves that there is quite likely some very good value to the content and tools that marketing creates that the sales team has ignored. Once sales can admit this the next step is to go seek that value out. Sales must actively engage marketing and trust them just a little bit to help define the commonalities in the marketplace. Sales must depend on the messaging and do their part to use the suggested language consistently.
Equally as important is that sales must help marketing help them. If the messaging is just a little off, help marketing tweak it so that it improves. If demand generating content is cumbersome to use in the sales process sales pros must either tailor the content for their own use, or make it very simple for marketing to reverse engineer top level marketing content into immediately usable content for early stages of the sales cycle.
Lastly, sales has to absolutely stop hoarding access to customers. If sales wants better marketing, they must make it a priority for marketing to know the customers better. The sales team has to be the ambassador of the customer for the sake of the marketing team.
What Should Leaders Do?
CEOs have the most important role in all of this; they must make sales and marketing alignment a TOP priority. What this means is CEOs cannot lean decidedly in one camp or the other. Rather they must make it clear to the entire team that sales and marketing working in lock step is the most critical component of immediate growth.
What this means is that it is critical for leadership to take messaging seriously and use the language that has been crafted by the marketing and branding teams. On the other hand, it also means that CEOs have to make clear to marketing that a simple metric like MQL to SQL conversions will not be accepted on face value. Instead, performance measurement will examine how easy it is for sales to use marketing created tools to increase sales pipeline and move deals through it.
Over time the question of why sales and marketing hate each other will decrease and will be replaced by specific questions over how these two teams can work better together. The two professions have to not only respect one another and support one another; they must tirelessly work together in pursuit of growth objectives.