In 23 seconds: It seems very odd. “Team” is the word many CEOs use to define their workplace. Yet, in so many companies, marketing and sales don’t (or won’t) work together as a team at all to optimize marketing’s effectiveness. And unfortunately, it’s as odd as it is common. There are three reasons for this: 1) It’s not always at the top of the minds of CEOs, 2) Dueling egos between marketing and sales keep them from speaking with each other, and 3) Some salespeople don’t respect, or are frustrated with their marketing team or agency.

Don’t cheat yourself by stopping here. Keep reading…

Let’s start with this question — What is the sole purpose of marketing?

Some would say it’s to improve brand awareness.

Others would say its purpose is to get people interested in a company’s products and services.

Many would agree its purpose is also to retain existing customers.

While all answers are textbook correct, in application, the sole purpose of marketing is to drive sales!

Because nothing, absolutely nothing, happens until a sale is made, as sales are the lifeblood of a company.

So, how do companies set their marketing up to fail? By not having their marketing team regularly collaborate with their sales team.

There are several reasons for this:

First, it’s not top of mind. 

I’ve worked with organizations confessing that their marketing and sales teams operate on their own islands and rarely, if ever, collaborate on what they need from each other to succeed. When sales are down, one team blames the other; when sales are up, neither is shy about taking credit.

But the problem extends far beyond the marketing and sales functions. In general, all departments—engineering, manufacturing, new product development, service, production, and even technical support, etc.—should be regularly communicating with both sales and marketing. If a company identifies itself as a “team,” it must operate as one.

The second reason is ego.

Some internal marketing departments and agencies operate with the “we’ve got this” mindset, believing they, on their own, know how to build strong brand awareness and attract prospective customers. After all, salespeople are not marketing professionals. Right?

Let’s hold that thought for a moment…

We do need to hand it to the “good” marketers — they are intelligent and creative, they know how to put together a winning strategy, and they stay current with the latest marketing trends and best practices. After all, marketing today is worlds apart from the olden days — you know, pre-2005.

BUT…marketing effectiveness is only as good as the input received from salespeople — the people directly responsible for bringing in new business.

It’s the salespeople who:

  • Win and lose opportunities, and can thus provide insights and gut feelings into why customers buy, and don’t buy.

  • Know where some of their prospective customers are buying, and why.

  • Are out in the field networking and talking with potential customers, peers, and vendors.

  • Know why some of their customers leave.

  • Go to industry trade shows and see what their competitors are up to.

  • Are the CLOSEST to customers and understand them and their buying criteria.

Marketing needs to listen.

And third, collaboration may not occur when salespeople don’t respect, or are frustrated with their marketing team or agency.

It’s not uncommon for salespeople to throw up their hands in frustration and create their own damn email campaigns, flyers, off-the-Epson-printer brochures, sales presentations, line cards, etc., because either marketing takes too long to get things done, or the work they produce is lacking.

As you can imagine or may have even experienced, this creates an even larger issue—inconsistent marketing and messaging that confuse customers. Things get even worse when salespeople gain access to the admin function of the company website and randomly make changes to the content, or worse, accidentally (we won’t go there).

The brutal and painful fact is that if salespeople, who view every minute of their day as money, take the time to produce their own marketing instead of finding new customers, the marketing department needs to reassess and re-evaluate its strategy.

When sales and marketing work together as one unit, companies see substantial improvements in important performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.

The fact is, if your sales and marketing teams aren’t communicating at least twice per month, your marketing is off course and not producing your desired ROI.

If we can agree that the fundamental purpose of marketing is to drive sales, your marketing team absolutely must acquire insights and intelligence from your salespeople to help them produce the types of marketing materials and messages that will facilitate and support the sales process.

Better yet, have people on your marketing team join in on sales calls to hear firsthand what prospective customers are saying—their pain points, objections, and why they are or are not interested in doing business with your company.

Have your salespeople do sales meeting and sales call debriefs with marketing so that they have a deeper understanding of what’s been working and what’s been lacking. This insight will help your marketing team dial things in a bit tighter to improve marketing performance and metrics.

Also, when marketing produces sales materials and communications, have them share with sales for their input. (Why wouldn’t they?) It would be very beneficial to know if everything is on target or if a slight adjustment here or there would help.

This has absolutely nothing to do with marketing “working for” sales, or getting “approval” from someone who doesn’t sign their paycheck. This has everything to do with working together, as a real team.

But wait…there’s more…

You can also have marketing sit in on meetings with vendor partners, suppliers, etc., so they are aware of what is happening at the company, giving them marketing ideas they would not have thought of otherwise.

And what about arranging customer visits to see your products at work in different applications and environments? Let your marketing team ask questions about how things are going with the company and what led them to their decision to buy from you versus from your competitors.

Anything else?

Next steps…

Strongly consider opening up the doors of communication with other departments within your company. So many times, I hear from marketing teams that they are unaware of what their company is up to or working on because each department of the company is operating in a silo.

It’s easy to do—many of us are guilty of it, but being aware helps to make this change. The more everyone knows about what everyone else is doing, the more your company will benefit.

It’s the purest definition of teamwork.