Keep Marketing and Sales From Playing Cat and Mouse

Marketing and sales teams should be partners, not adversaries.

Written by Avery Komlofske
Published on May. 06, 2022
Keep Marketing and Sales From Playing Cat and Mouse
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Sales and marketing have a complicated relationship.

“They can be very Tom-and-Jerry-esque,” said Phillip McSween, inside sales manager at mortgage lender Neat Loans. “You’ve got sales asking, ‘where are the leads?’ while marketing is asking, ‘where are the results from what we have already given you?’”

In other words, if leaders don’t actively foster good communication between teams, marketing and sales can find themselves playing cat and mouse — working as adversaries instead of partners.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Marketing and sales need each other — to get and keep leads, to promote brand awareness and to help the company grow. With a focus on communication and finding common ground between departments, marketing and sales leaders can keep everybody on the same team. Instead of chasing each other around, they’ll collaborate to keep the business at its best.

Marketing and sales leaders from Hotel Engine, Documoto, AdAction and Neat Loans have built that collaborative relationship. Built In Colorado sat down with those employees to learn about how they fostered communication and understanding between marketing and sales teams.

 

Hotel Engine coworkers sitting on a couch in the office smiling and laughing
Hotel Engine

 

Meghan Daugherty
SDR Manager • Hotel Engine

 

Hotel Engine produces a hotel booking platform.

 

What are some common points of friction you’ve encountered between marketing and sales teams?

One common issue I have encountered is friction regarding lead quality and routing. Thankfully, at Hotel Engine marketing and sales have a very cohesive working relationship, and this common area of frustration is resolved thanks to our business development team that helps qualify inbound marketing leads and route them to the appropriate account executive.

I believe it’s also important that both the sales and marketing teams share a common vision — understanding who our ideal customer is and how to maintain the integrity of the platform when it comes to extending access to qualified businesses.  

Lastly, communication is key to maintaining focus and collaborative growth. While I’ve felt in previous roles that there was communication left to be desired, I find that the sales and marketing teams at Hotel Engine do a great job of alleviating this pain point.

 

What should sales leaders understand about marketing teams to help build a collaborative relationship?

It’s important for sales leaders to understand that both the sales team and the marketing team share a common goal. Lack of alignment can end up hurting performance on both sides.  

To improve communication, sales teams need to understand the inner workings of the marketing team, including each team member’s skill sets and responsibilities. Sales teams must also understand the overarching goals of the marketing team — like building brand awareness — and how they impact sales.  

Both teams can work more productively when they are communicating around larger goals and how they can assist one another. I like to ask questions like: “What type of feedback is marketing looking for from sales?” and “What is the number one marketing goal this quarter, and why?” If the main focus is something like increasing SEO, I want to understand what that means for us and how it affects sales. Breaking down marketing goals into layman’s terms is often necessary and can help paint the larger picture for the sales team.

A constructive relationship is built on trust and the understanding that both parties are focused on revenue.”

 

Share some practical advice for sales leaders on how to build a constructive relationship with marketing. 

It’s important that both sales and marketing understand what each team requires from the other. Often, one team might believe they understand what the other needs, but there is misalignment — demonstrating the need for clear communication. A constructive relationship is built on trust and the understanding that both parties are focused on revenue.  

When a sales team has a clear idea of how marketing is planning to increase revenue, they can aid the process. Sales teams can provide valuable feedback to support the marketing team’s efforts, but the trust must be there. Consistency and transparency are important for developing trust and good communication.

Often, sales and marketing teams are looking at different numbers — both teams must work to develop a consistent understanding of the data and ensure that teams are measuring results the same way. When both teams feel heard, trust that they are working toward the same goals and have a clear understanding of what the other team needs, a constructive relationship can develop — eventually becoming a well-oiled machine.

 

 

Phillip McSween
Inside Sales Manager • Neat Loans

 

Neat Loans is a fintech company and mortgage lender.

 

What are some common points of friction you’ve encountered between marketing and sales teams?

The Tom-and-Jerry relationship I referenced is typical of how it’s gone at past companies, but at Neat Loans, our efforts are extremely collaborative. Our CMO, Jen Farmer, encourages open dialogues to improve what’s working and find solutions for what’s not. What makes marketing and sales more collaborative at Neat is a shared KPI. When both teams are working towards one ultimate goal versus a ton of unrelated metrics, there’s more drive to figure out what works and what doesn’t as quickly as possible.

 

What should sales leaders understand about marketing teams to help build a collaborative relationship?

Marketing doesn’t have a magic wand that they wave and good leads magically appear. Building a successful engine of consistent leads takes time, which includes building off past successes and learning from failures. The bottom line is that as much as you as a sales professional want to succeed, marketing wants sales to succeed just as badly — their success is tied to your conversion rates. 

It never ceases to amaze me how often we let frustrations build without addressing them.

 

Share some practical advice for sales leaders on how to build a constructive relationship with marketing. 

Collaborate. Inquire. Talk. 

These seem like simple things, but it never ceases to amaze me how often we let frustrations build without addressing them. Understand what marketing is trying to achieve, while helping marketing understand what you as a sales team are trying to build. More often than not, you’ll find that you’re on the same page working towards a common goal, which makes being a team mean so much more.

 

 

JoAnn Spinnato
Director, Revenue Operations • AdAction

 

AdAction is a mobile app marketing platform.

 

What are some common points of friction you’ve encountered between marketing and sales teams?

I find that friction occurs between marketing and sales in three areas: communication, alignment of goals and clear roles and responsibilities. 

To achieve the greatest success in converting prospects into leads and closing deals, it is critical that sales and marketing work in collaboration to create a strategy and plan with shared goals and clear metrics as to how the collective teams will measure success. Strong communication is important to continually modify and improve the plan based on feedback from both parties to achieve a successful outcome as one team. Teams that are clear on roles and responsibilities between sales and marketing will achieve greater success by minimizing duplication of efforts and be able to solve problems and iterate on the plan in a more effective and timely manner.

 

What should sales leaders understand about marketing teams to help build a collaborative relationship?

Sales leaders are key in helping marketing understand their audience. Even though both departments interact with prospective customers, it is the sales team that is in direct communication with the customer. Marketing will be able to provide more value and critical insights to sales if sales leaders can effectively collaborate and be responsive throughout the process.

If your marketer knows what your focus is, they can do a lot to support you.

 

Share some practical advice for sales leaders on how to build a constructive relationship with marketing. 

Ongoing communication is key. If you haven’t already, create a standing meeting with your marketing manager to align on goals as well as exchange feedback about what you’re seeing in your sales pipeline. If your marketer knows what your focus is, they can do a lot to support you.

 

 

Miki Noble
Marketing Manager • Documoto, Inc.

 

Documoto is a software company that deals with equipment manufacturers.

 

What are some common points of friction you’ve encountered between marketing and sales teams?

Sales and marketing have a lot in common — and both have crucial roles in brand awareness, customer engagement, revenue generation and organizational growth. Despite these commonalities, marketing and sales are different disciplines. Marketing focuses on the future, whereas sales focuses on the present. Marketing encapsulates all the activities and resources needed to reach and persuade target accounts, and sales covers everything you do to close a deal and reel in revenue. Because of this, discord between departments is common. Some scenarios involve ineffective communication, unaligned strategies and misunderstood roles.

 

What should sales leaders understand about marketing teams to help build a collaborative relationship?

Marketing and sales are partners. While sales and marketing use distinct funnels and pipelines, operating in tandem can lead to a positive outcome that directly impacts the company’s bottom line and provides a clear blueprint for growth. To keep your sales and marketing teams aligned with one another, I’d suggest providing clarity on the roles and functions of each department, establishing a culture of open communication between the two groups, and creating a unified sales and marketing strategy where the teams can work together to achieve business goals.

Despite commonalities, marketing and sales are different disciplines — marketing focuses on the future, whereas sales focuses on the present.

 

Share some practical advice for sales leaders on how to build a constructive relationship with marketing. 

To spark marketing and sales collaboration, I’ve found that meeting weekly has had the most benefit for our team. Typically, the meetings encompass reviewing target accounts, active campaigns and where additional help may be needed. Apart from conducting these weekly brainstorming sessions, marketing team members shadow sales calls regularly so marketing can learn how the prospect learned about the company and what content they engaged with on the site, and get insight into any questions that arise that can be addressed upstream in content creation.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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