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Sales and Marketing – a marriage made in heaven?

Olivia Fisher
by Olivia Fisher - May 24, 2019

No two departments are more intertwined than those who create the messages as to ‘why you should buy a product’ and those that are responsible for selling it. That’s why ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ are often expressed as a single phrase – Smarketing. 

However, despite sharing a common goal, revenue generation, relationships between these two intrinsically linked departments are often far from harmonious. Cultural differences and misunderstood roles can even see these teams end up as adversaries rather than partners. So much so that according to IDC, 10% of company revenue can be lost to this misalignment. 

With the modern market changing and so much of the buyer journey happening online, the time has come for these two departments to unite, celebrate their differences and work together for the long-term advantage. For when sales and marketing are aligned, the rewards can be significant - to the tune of 36% higher retention rates, 28% higher sales win rates and 208% more revenue generated from marketing efforts, according to Marketing Profs.

A successful sales and marketing partnership in many ways shares similar characteristics to a good marriage and with a bit of effort on both parts can lead to a long-term, productive and happy union.

A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together, it is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences

- Dave Meurer 

So what characteristics lead to a happy ‘marriage’?

Good communication. The foundation for any solid relationship, if it breaks down, the relationship will crumble. Positive communication involves respect for the other party and a willingness to listen. Talk, chat, discuss, on the phone, face-to-face, learn from each other and implement those learnings to attract or retain customers and improve their experience.

Empathy. Sales and Marketing are two complementary but very different ‘people’, each with their own culture and language. Sales reps are on the front line, under immense pressure to ‘deliver the numbers’, whilst Marketers must use their knowledge of buyer behaviour together with insights from sales, to deliver relevant content to drive customers through their journey Despite these differences, shared goals mean it’s critical for sales people to understand a marketer’s day-to-day reality and vice-versa. This empathy is a cornerstone for any long-term alignment.

Developing common interestsIn a marriage, developing common interests might mean playing tennis together or a joint love of travel. For sales and marketing, it means coming up with systematic ways of working together with aligned terminology and processes – important when you may have multiple marketing tactics in play! At Sherpa, we have weekly team meetings where we share joint successes (or discuss how to overcome issues), our project teams are composed jointly of sales and marketing people and together we work on developing our lead-generation strategy and joint KPI’s.

Spending quality time together. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the miniature of daily (business) life; meetings, targets and ‘to-do’ lists can all get in the way of seeing the big picture. Taking some time out from work-based activities with colleagues creates opportunities to develop personal connections between sales and marketing departments.

This doesn’t have to be a week-long business retreat (although a team-building break is always a good excuse for a get-together). But could be as simple as an out-of-hours book club, or Friday afternoon socials (always popular here at Sherpa!) When team members feel understood and comfortable on a personal level with their colleagues, the easier in-office, professional communication will be between the departments.

An ‘In it together’ approach. Sales and Marketing have bonded over a common objective – – and they respect the part they each play in achieving it. Whilst they may not always agree on everything all the time, (no marriage is that perfect!), they are on the same page when it comes to the big picture.

For better or worse... There’s no denying, it’s easier for sales and marketing to be in sync when things are going well, content is delivering, leads are flourishing, and customers are buying. It’s when times are difficult, or companies are in a period of flux that relationships are truly tested.

Positive communication, trust and respect are imperative to prevent a ‘them and us’ culture re-emerging and to stop the fingers of blame from pointing… To weather the storm, you really must build a trusting, cohesive bond. 

Let’s face it, no marriage is trouble-free, but if you subscribe to the above as best you can, you will navigate the curve-balls and rocky patches to work as an aligned team, achieving joint objectives, fulfilling customer needs and driving growth.  

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