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3 Ways to Get Your Sales and Marketing Teams to Stop Fighting

Are your sellers and marketers treating each other like rivals instead of allies?

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I've worked at where the and teams weren't on speaking terms. It wasn't personal. They just had separate cultures, separate goals. Separate lunch plans, usually.

I've also been in organizations where the relationship between sales and marketing was openly hostile. You've probably seen some version of this: The blaming the marketing team for generating weak leads, and the marketing team blaming the sales team for not closing them. The sales manager calling the marketing team the arts and crafts department, and the marketing team crying in the parking lot.

If your sellers and marketers treat each other like rivals instead of allies, you came to the right blog post. Here are three things that will get your sales and marketing teams to stop fighting, pulled from my own experiences leading a B2B SaaS marketing team.

Related: 5 Ways to Align Marketing With Sales to Close More Deals

1. Treat sales and marketing as one team

Curing the tension between sales and marketing starts with pulling sellers and marketers out of their departmental silos. These two teams are almost entirely responsible for new customer acquisition, so they should logically be the same team.

A few years ago, my company combined our sales and marketing departments into a single growth team. They meet weekly to share insights on leads and prospects and identify trends in our CRM metrics. Although much of our team has been switching to remote work lately, our sellers and marketers operate out of the same physical space. Meaning, there's no separate sales pit and marketing pit at our office, allowing us to spontaneously trade ideas and feedback.

Once we got in the habit of talking to each other as teammates, something amazing happened: we actually started helping each other. Our sellers began to pass along insights that they picked up from their sales calls, which helped us marketers fine-tune our messaging and campaign targeting. Simple observations like, transportation companies really love our map feature or we're seeing a lot of nonprofits coming over from [Competitor X] have been extremely valuable in our quest to acquire thrilled customers.

And of course, the marketers on our team reciprocated, helping our sellers more regularly with sales enablement content and cold email cadences. Working as a team made us realize that our success depends on each other and our attitudes shifted accordingly.

2. Get aligned on goals (especially the most important one)

Besides regular and physical proximity, what really creates unity between two functions is having a single shared goal to row towards. In the case of sales and marketing, it should be growth. Every initiative we pursue as sales and marketing professionals should be done with the goal of influencing that top-line number.

But what do we see more often at B2B companies? Sales and marketing teams chasing totally different metrics. Marketers reporting on raw lead volume, website traffic and social media impressions. Sellers tracking phone calls made, meetings booked and leads closed.

Any time you have different success criteria for different groups of people, there's going to be tension. As a marketer, you could be crushing all your lead generation and audience growth targets. But, if your sales team is struggling and your company's revenue growth is stalled, maybe you're not doing as well as you think you are.

Once you get your sellers and marketers to commit to revenue growth as a shared goal, they'll spend less time chasing vanity metrics that are easily influenced and not impactful. They can then spend more time focusing on what makes a successful business: generating high-quality leads and building a razor-sharp sales process to close them.

Related: How to Align Product, Marketing and Sales Goals

3. Give your sellers and marketers the same information

Even when sales and marketing teams like each other, they often get out of sync for a simple reason: They literally don't have the same data in front of them.

Your sellers hopefully have access to a CRM that stores all their contacts, communication histories and the status of each opportunity. Your marketers, on the other hand, probably use a separate marketing automation platform to send email marketing campaigns and manage subscriber audiences. And that piece of software runs off a contact database that is entirely different from the one in the sales team's CRM.

Now, how in the world does that make sense?

The longtime status quo of sales and marketing using separate software tools creates the following challenges:

  • Marketers don't know who they're talking to — Is 4XFounder@bmail.com an active customer, a former customer, a prospect or just a fan of your newsletter? Unfortunately, the answer to that question can only be found in your CRM — which your marketers might not even have access to.

  • Sellers don't know which subscribers might want to take the next step — The recent webinar attendee who opened your last product announcement email a half-dozen times? They might appreciate some outreach from an account rep. But you'd never know it, because marketing email engagement stats can only be found in your marketing software, which (you guessed it) your sellers might not even have access to.

  • The awkward dance of uncoordinated communication — Why did this subscriber tell us to stop sending so many messages, when we only sent out one marketing email this month? Well, maybe you just happened to bother them at a time when your sales team was sending their own email sequence pushing a holiday discount. Sellers and marketers that manage their communications out of separate tools step on each other's toes constantly. The result is over-messaging, irrelevant emails and countless missed opportunities.

Using a shared growth software platform — powered by a single contact database — solves all these problems and helps marketers better understand how their efforts are driving sales outcomes.

One team, one goal, one tool

Like all simple concepts, it's not easy to put into practice. After all, you might have to convince your sellers and marketers to adopt new software, and provide more transparency into their efforts. But you can't expect sales and marketing to work together if they're playing different games.

Related: 4 Unconventional Ways to Use Your CRM Software

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