The Struggle Between Sales And Marketing

By October 2, 2015Strategy

In this session, I will discuss the struggle that occurs between sales and marketing. Within the article, I will suggest various tactics managers can take to improve synergies and cross-departmental cooperation between these two disciplines.   

The difference between sales and marketing generally revolves around the fact that both departments ultimately have the same goal. However, each department accomplishes their deliverables and deadlines using different methods. The traditional stereotype is that marketing is singularly focused on long-term objectives at the expense of the short term. On the other hand, the traditional stereotype of sales is that it is focused on short-term objectives at the expense of the long term.  

Generally, there are four types of relationships that sales and marketing exhibit:

  • UNDISCIPLINED RELATIONSHIP is where marketing and sales function as two completely autonomous organizations.  They focus on their own tasks and do not talk unless there is conflict.  
  • DEFINED RELATIONSHIP between sales and marketing has rules to prevent disputes. They also have pre-designed language for potentially contentious areas.  
  • ALIGNED RELATIONSHIP has clear, but flexible boundaries between sales and marketing.
  • INTEGRATED RELATIONSHIP, between sales and marketing, involves an open system and a complete team approach.  The goal is not always to achieve an integrated relationship. Each organization is different and it is up to the executives to determine what type of relationship they will have between sales and marketing.  

There are a couple of different ways that executives can help bridge the gap between sales and marketing:

  • They can encourage DISCIPLINE COMMUNICATIONS (e.g. having set meetings and a strict agenda of items to consider).
  • They can create JOINT ASSIGNMENTS through rotating jobs. This creates opportunities for sales and marketing to work together. When working together, employees share knowledge and appreciation for the other’s role.  
  • A LIAISON can be appointed from marketing to work with the sales force. This person is in charge of exchanging knowledge and existing as a conduit between the sales and marketing team. This person can study, learn, and improve the process while bringing them back to their respective teams.  
  • They can also COLLOCATE marketers and sales reps. The idea is if they are physically close together, there will be enhanced cross-departmental cooperation.
  • Finally, you can improve the SALESFORCE FEEDBACK. Exchange of dialogue is a crucial way to improve performance. Having a busy sales team can share the experience that allows marketers to learn from their vast knowledge.

These are descriptions of physical tasks that can be adapted for cross-departmental cooperation.   

I believe that the key to establishing a healthy symbiotic relationship between your sales and marketing team is complete adherence to a logical buying funnel that traces the sequence of activities and events needed to establish a customer relationship.  Having a single logical funnel will eliminate blame when issues arise.  Involvement of both teams in the entire process will create synergies and help encourage an integrated relationship that will drive incremental revenue growth.   

These are some techniques that I believe, if enacted, will result in increased cooperation between the sales and marketing team in your agency. Each strategy suggested does not work for every organization. It is up to the executives to balance risk versus reward in choosing the proper path.


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