No matter how well integrated Sales and Marketing are in an organization you’ll probably still find the typical complaints from both sides. Sales will say that Marketing isn’t close enough to the business and doesn’t really understand what sales does/needs/wants. “Marketing never seems to be working on anything I need,” or “I don’t know what they do in that ivory tower but I wish they’d do this.” 

On the other side of the fence, Marketing is saying, “Sales doesn’t pay attention to any of the programs/tools/information that we put out there for them. They don’t listen and ask the same questions over and over. They don’t follow up on leads.  They don’t understand that there is a bigger picture and everything marketing does isn’t for the short-term sale.” 

Both sides hit on some truths; neither side is wrong.

I’ve spent my career on the Marketing side of the fence and I take no offense to the criticisms Sales typically has for Marketing in general. Much has been written and talked about when it comes to building bridges between Sales and Marketing and the closer the two are in alignment the more effective an organization will be at realizing revenue and profits. I’m not going to layout how the two can be brought together but rather offer some practical advice to Sales on how to get what you want out of Marketing.

Recently I overheard a sales person approach a member of our marketing department. He came to say that he wished our new collateral piece contained x, y & z. He then asked why we couldn’t advertise in a publication important to his customer and then he relayed a request from a customer for a tailored presentation on our services. The presentation was a legitimate request but it was met with lukewarm enthusiasm. I’m sure the marketing person had just heard what sounded like a litany of complaints about the things they had worked on.  Perhaps valid complaints, but definitely delivered in a negative way. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this. Sales can often just dump their frustrations, customer complaints and criticisms on Marketing. And I subscribe to the fact that Sales is Marketing’s customer so we need to take it, filter it and make sense of it. 

But it does strike me as odd that the very same people who can convince the most curmudgeon prospect to buy and who can take a customer on the verge of cancellation and upsell them, don’t use those same selling skills on their very own marketing folks. 

Everyone likes to be complimented. Everyone wants to feel important and believe that their contributions matter. Applying those same principles on your own marketing staff can yield dramatic results.  You may not get everything you want from Marketing, but you will get more cooperation, involvement and consideration.

I promise that I’ll write for the other side – How Marketing can better work with Sales.

2 comments

  1. If a company is large enough what about a training period for sales persons to spend some time in marketing and marketing persons to spend time in sales.

    I spent five years in sales before I got my MBA and then took a job for 18 months as a product marketing manager. That experience help significantly in my interface with marketing when I went back in the field as a district sales manager.It help me to guide my sales engineers in their interface with the factory to achieve their goals. I was even accused by other district sales managers of bribing the marketing people to get things accomplished.

    After years in field sales as a rep owner and then a regional sales manager I am now back in marketing as marketing manager and webmaster. The field sales experience gives me the insight into the tools and programs needed by our sales personnel and presented on the company’s website.

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  2. Sales and marketing are 2 very important pillars in a company. Whether or not they can work together depend to a great extend the passion and the “ownership sense” of the people carrying out the tasks of sales or marketing…after all it is getting in more customers to the company.. marketing is actually sale for tomorrow… it is certainly a good idea for cross functional training to get people to “feel” and “taste” the grass on the other side of the fence.

    it is “positive” for sales to fight marketing and don’t leave out the production people.. they fight marketing and sales too.

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