Can Sales and Marketing Get Along?

can sales and marketing get along?In one of the most famous quotes from 1990s, Rodney King asked “Can we all get along?”

That same question could also apply today for sales and marketing departments.

Are there really any conflicts between sales and marketing departments these days? Or are some people just hyping the conflict to sell books, promote seminars or…write blog posts.

It depends. Company leadership, culture and personnel can either create harmony or animosity between both departments.

Jen Kern, CMO at Tracx, and John Evans, Director of Sales at Celerity addressed some of the challenges they faced while working together at Celerity during a recent AA-ISP DC Chapter meeting on “The Dynamic Duo – Fueling an Integrated Marketing & Sales Engine.” (The event was hosted by WeddingWire in Friendship Heights, MD).

In a question and answer format, both Ms. Kern and Mr. Evans discussed how they were able to successfully increase sales at Celerity by forging a working relationship between sales and marketing. In fact, there were no real marketing efforts at all prior to Ms. Kern’s arrival at Celerity in 2011. Together, she and Mr. Evans were able to overcome some initial skepticism and resistance by demonstrating how marketing could help sales grow through lead generation.

According to its website, during the past 13 years, Celerity has grown to 8 regional offices, is generating more than $80 million in annual revenue, and has more than 500 employees. Not a bad track record.

Some of the key takeaways I got from the discussion –

1). Sales and marketing need to work together – not just in terms of achieving common goals, but also by proximity. The days of assuming that  marketing employees work in some mysterious ivory tower, sipping tea, submitting leads, and treating salespeople like a bunch of boorish louts are long gone. And the days of assuming that salespeople work in some windowless drab basement, gulping coffee, ignoring leads, and treating marketing employees like of bunch of clueless snobs are also long gone. Sales and marketing teams need to literary work together in the same office space – the closer, the better. By doing so, both teams will develop a better appreciation and respect for each other’s work.

2). Marketing employees must either like sales or get out of marketing. Period. Marketing employees need to understand what drives most salespeople. For salespeople, that motivation is usually earning a lot of money and being number one. For marketing people, the motivation is developing and fine tuning a process of generating qualified leads, and handing them off to salespeople.

For example, I once worked at a small company where the marketing department was sitting on more than 11,000 prospects. They acquired the prospects from list brokers. Eager to pursue those prospects, we were denied access because the marketing team couldn’t figure out how to export the prospects from Excel to our ancient CRM without creating duplicates.

In addition, they didn’t know how to develop a marketing plan to turn those prospects into qualified leads.

A few months went by. Nothing happened. Then the head of marketing decides to go on a one week vacation, with a vague promise of solving the problem she returned.

When she returned, again, nothing happened.

Frustrated, I left for another job and never looked back.

To this day, those prospects are probably still in Excel.

hungry salesperson waiting for prospectsThe lesson? Sitting on prospects and not giving them to your sales team is cruel. It’s like denying food to a hungry dog, and then laughing at him as he begs for a taste…just a taste to satisfy his appetite.

Don’t do that. Because salespeople, like everyone else, need to eat.

If you work in marketing and don’t respect salespeople, it’s time for a career change.

And I would add that in this post 2008 Great Recession era, all employees are now salespeople. If you have any employee who doesn’t think that way, fire him. You either work or sink together. It’s that simply.

3). Old School isn’t always bad. Frankly, I think it’s a myth that older salespeople don’t “get technology”. I’m an older salesperson – not only do I get technology, I embrace it. The same is true with social media. (I even taught myself WordPress.org to write and publish this blog). In short, anything that I can help me sell better and exceed my quota, I’m all ears.

However, there are still some old school salespeople that give the rest of us a bad name. You know the kind – they don’t use LinkedIn, they never heard of Twitter, they don’t enter sales notes in a CRM, they don’t use an Outlook calendar to schedule appointments, etc. However, over the years, many old school salespeople have developed enough relationships and goodwill among their clients that are essential to a company’s growth. That’s OK. Leave them along. As the old saying goes “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Too often, new managers will come in and try to “shake things up” by imposing too many new rules too quickly without first learning how the sales or marketing departments are operating. As a result of their heavy-handed tactics (mostly a result of their insecurity and arrogance), good employees leave and the new managers have to start building their teams from scratch. Most companies can’t afford this costly and time consuming mistake.

(And BTW, where do a lot of those good employees go? You guessed it – your competitors).

Work with who you have on your sales team. An old warhorse may be old – but he’s still a warhorse. Yes, introduce new methods. And while you’re at it, hire new employees who will understand and appreciate modern technologies and marketing efforts. In the end, both old and young salespeople will prevail.

4). Marketing and Sales compensation must be closely aligned. Simply handing off leads to the sales team and washing your hands of them are now over. No matter how qualified the lead may be in the eyes of the marketing or sales department, the only good lead is one that becomes a paying customer.

Leads that are converted into customers – not just leads themselves – should be the determining factor in compensation for both sales and marketing employees.

Thus, dumping unqualified leads on your sales team is no longer tolerated. You are only hurting yourself and the employer. Do some research. There are plenty of tools out there to help you better qualified leads. Use them.

Examples include Marketo, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and ActiveCampaign.

(A good source to find lead generation tools is Capterra).

This is why it’s so important to constantly test the waters with different email or other marketing campaigns to obtain the best qualified leads possible. Don’t be afraid of failure. If one campaign doesn’t work, try another. Experiment.

To learn more about how sales and marketing teams can work together, please click on these articles below –

“How Marketing and Sales Can Work Together to Close More Leads,” by Max Traylor

“Overcoming The Marketing-Sales Turf War: Six Strategies to Integration,” by Christine Moorman

And finally, if you are not a member of the AA-ISP, I strong recommend that you become one. Not only will you find great networking opportunities, but you will discover plenty of good resources on the main website.

Note: If you like my post, please check out my book Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

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