I visited an old friend of mine a few weeks ago in a coffee shop. Ever since we last met, she has grown strides in the field of digital marketing. I was proud of her, knowing that I thought her years ago, and now she has even surpassed me.
But I was utterly surprised when she mentioned about the situation in her workplace. When during their weekly all-heads meetings, some people from the sales team complained about the quality of leads they were getting, her team heads replied that maybe it’s the sales team’s inability to communicate is the reason why they think the leads are not good in the first place. “Sales and marketing keep butting heads, even with other companies,” she quipped.
Personally, it’s hard to reconcile the notion that sales and marketing departments are constantly at war with each other, mainly for the sole reason that both have one underlying goal: company growth. If both departments continue to be at odds with each other, then it ends up hurting both. As sales managers, it is important that this is handled as urgently as possible.
It’s about the company, nothing else
The most crucial part of bridging this gap is simply to reframe it. We tend to behave in a tribal mindset, enclosing ourselves to those who are directly related to us. For departments, it means treating other departments as outsiders, hostile to the wishes of your village. This is a destructive mindset.
At this point in time, when even industry competitors are promoting collaboration instead of competition, there is no excuse that within the same company, such should exist. Understand that all departments have one end game, and it is crucial that all should work together for the same goal.
You’re good at talking with clients, communicate
"But how do we let marketing understand what we want?” Simple, talk to them. The moment you reframe your mindset into helping each other, you realize that the reason friction exists most of the time is because of miscommunication. Was the buyer persona clearly addressed? Does the word “conversion” mean the same thing to both departments? How many leads can Marketing realistically provide? And how many leads can Sales accommodate?
Of course, in communicating, it should not be between the VPs of both departments. There are a lot of things that get lost when only the heads talk. HubSpot solved this by doing weekly meetings with both teams, even to the point of mixing up desks so that each would know how the other works and vice versa.
For some, that would be too much, but the point is clear: talk to them, whether you’re the head of your sales team or a member.
Reality has to set in though, and when setting targets become part of the discussion, this is where friction does exist. But it shouldn’t be feared. This is where the best opportunity to talk about happens. Work backwards, figure out how both Marketing and Sales can reach targets possible enough to achieve yet reasonably challenging.
Sometimes, this where Sales are tough, asking ridiculous figures only to not be able to keep up with it. Learn to compromise. This is not about Sales but the company as a whole. If Marketing is the bottleneck, figure it out together how they can seamlessly transition. Conversely, when Sales becomes the bottleneck, Marketing can readjust.
Bridging the gap shouldn’t be difficult. Matter of fact, it shouldn’t be any in the first place.
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