Forging An Essential Partnership Between Sales And Marketing

Learn how to get your clients’ Sales and Marketing departments to work together.

Scenario One: Mrs. Smith stops by the showroom and says “I saw your ad in XYZ magazine…” The salesperson says, “Oh, our new campaign – let me show you the product we were talking about.”

Scenario Two: Mrs. Smith stops by the showroom and says “I saw your ad in XYZ magazine…” She’s met with a blank stare.

How can you make sure your clients’ marketing and sales departments are working together – and avoid scenario two?

Marketing can’t survive without sales and sales can’t sell without marketing. Unfortunately, many businesses view them as two different departments.

The sales department is the frontline to the market and each individual consumer. The marketing department’s value is in its ability to take what’s happening on the sales front and turn it into brand image boosters and revenue generators. Marketing sells a company’s image, and sales reps must leverage that image to sell the products/services.

When sales and marketing work in partnership, it makes producing key initiatives like corporate branding and segment marketing easier. In turn, companies can:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Develop new markets
  • Research and produce innovative services and products
  • Improve customer satisfaction and retention rates
  • Boost bottom line profitability

So, what can you do to help your clients bring sales and marketing together on the same team? Here are several proven methods to bridge the departmental gap:

  • Gain mutual ownership when developing sales promotions and marketing programs. Have the marketing team talk with sales to ensure what is created will generate qualified leads, open new doors for business opportunities, and ultimately shorten the sales cycle. Focus on developing sales- specific materials that convey benefits and values – not just features or company propaganda. Ask sales what the top objections are to closing a deal and how they handle them – then work information right into the marketing materials. Make sure that both departments have vested ownership, accountability, and excitement to support the success of each new program.
  • Cross-team on department meetings. Invite key sales reps into marketing brainstorming sessions and/or department meetings. Ask them what’s going on up on the frontline, and what they need from marketing to help develop, maintain, and close business opportunities. Let the marketing department show current project ideas, and get direct feedback. In return, the sales department should open its meetings to marketing so that this group hears about the day-to-day experiences, what customers expect, and how the products and services are performing. This information will be used to develop campaign concepts and messages, as well as call-to-action strategies. It can also ensure that all potential markets are being reached and addressed with appropriate messages.
  • Assign a sales and marketing liaison. Either hire or assign someone to oversee (or at least support) each department. This person must understand both departments’ needs, similarities, and differences – but be objective enough to see what needs to be done, and do it! Ultimately, this role ensures that each department listens to the other and works together for the common good of the company.
  • Develop shared compensation programs. A department’s compensation is naturally tied to its specific goals – but for true success, compensation should also be tied to how it works with other departments and teams within the company. “Silo compensation programs” only consider one department, while comprehensive programs view the role as an integrated part of the whole picture. Companies don’t have to completely revamp the current compensation plan – they can simply add monthly incentive programs that reward multiple departments/teams for working together. When developing the program, all department leaders and team managers should agree on key performance indicators. This will help ensure ownership, involvement, and accountability – and minimize the questions during the program’s launch. Companies may want to conduct a test pilot between two departments/teams first, and gather information to fine-tune the program before going corporate-wide.
  • New Product and Service Development. What happens when R&D and marketing think they know what the market wants based on business intelligence information and general customer feedback? They miss valuable insights from the sales reps, who are the company’s eyes and ears when it comes to actual customers! Successful companies constantly ask sales for feedback on frontline customer issues when creating new products and services. They create detailed lists of questions related to objectives and goals, and have each team outline what the market needs. And then they see then if sales and customer service reps concur, based on their discussions with customers each day. If they can’t reach a consensus, companies can develop an action plan to reach out to those key audiences directly – in the form of surveys, outbound call campaigns, sales calls, etc.
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