Three tips to get sales and marketing collaborate better


Many years ago I recall a broadcast executive saying that if he owned a station, he would have the programming people in one building at one end of the city and the sales people in a separate building at the other end - then he'd string barbwire and build moats.

It's true, in many companies the sales team may not be viewed by other departments members in the most positive light. They can be 'bulls in the china shop' and may be considered non-team players by the rest of your employees. Oddly enough, the revenue they generate doesn't always counter the 'Herb Tarlek' factor.

But in a customer-centric world where the cross-channel customer rules, these strict divisions cannot be maintained and all people within the company need to collaborate to offer the customer relevant interactions.

You need to ensure your marketing and sales departments are working as a team and not stepping all over each other because they don't communicate and coordinate effectively. The key focus: customers and prospects.

There are a few basic steps to bridge the gap and get sales and marketing working better together besides marketing automation and CRM integration, a topic that has been tackled here before (read "Bridging the gap between sales and marketing with marketing automation").

Communicate: make sure sales knows what you plan to do

Clear communication is critical and silos should be avoided as much as possible. You can't expect your sales people to put together a tactical approach to any strategy your marketing people develop if the sales department doesn't understand the strategic plan and goals. Speaking a common language is key here, not in the least on defining what is a lead. Start by defining what makes a qualified lead. Once you have that settled you then should put together lead scoring plans which define what a quality lead is and when it should be passed to sales (more about that in this post: "The optimization of lead management: the alignment between marketing and sales").

Define common metrics

Sales and marketing should not only speak the same language regarding the definition of a lead. Sales is naturally focused on the next close. Anything which doesn't help a sales person make that next sale stands a good chance of being ignored. Find out what metrics sales wants and give it to them and then make sure to add the ones important to marketing. Give your sales team the bigger picture, but don't overload them with data. Provide your sales team good reporting and easy access to this important data and your sales and marketing will work together as the well-oiled machine you need them to be. In fact, a truly customer-centric company does not only use common metrics in sales and marketing: it uses them across all divisions and subdivisions, giving every manager a clear insight into what customers want and how good or bad they are being served. Revenue is still a good parameter in that regard…

Include sales at the strategic level

For some reason, the sales team is often the last in when a strategic plan is being developed. Their input is not sought in the initial stages even though they are best positioned to offer crucial feedback on client preferences and what has worked and not worked in the past. Involve your sales team and give them at least some control over messaging to prospects. Also involve them in your marketing programs. An example: include the sales team in the e-mails you send or other online marketing and even lead management programs.

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