Sales vs. Marketing: Why can’t we be friends?

This might be a good time to work out a truce in the age-old battle between sales and marketing.

There are a series of myths that keep sales and marketing from playing on the same team, said Fawn Annan, ITWC President and CMO, during a recent Closing the Gap webinar. Companies need to address the issue because it can hurt the bottom line.

The current down time due to the COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity to work on the relationship, said Tibor Shanto, Principal with Renbor Sales Solutions Inc. “It’s hard to focus on the longer-term issues when you’re focused on the immediate quarter. It’s a good time to marshal the troops. This is the time for the radical change we’ve been talking about.” This is critical when everyone is working remotely, added Annan.

During the session, Annan and Shanto faced off on why there are conflicts between sales and marketing and what can be done about it.

Why sales and marketing fight

The two agreed that both sales and marketing have “superiority complexes.” “Marketing people feel that salespeople act superior because they’re bringing home the bacon,” said Annan. This happens because the two sides may not understand the in-depth work within each function.

Another common issue is that the two groups don’t have confidence in one another. For marketing, “a big sin is the idea that when we pass something through the funnel, it has to close,” said Annan. “That’s the wrong way to go about it.” Marketing doesn’t say where its leads are on the buying journey. A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is like a business card, she explained. “It doesn’t mean they’re ready to hear about a solution and sign on the bottom line.”

On the other side of the coin, sales may feel like marketing is irrelevant, said Shanto. “Sales believes that only about two per cent of marketing leads convert and they can do better on their own. Sales will ask why they would spend time on something that doesn’t get them a good yield.”

Conflict also occurs when both teams try to take credit for a successful deal. “Sales sees that marketing takes more of the credit than it deserves in bringing the client on board,” said Shanto. “I see that as marketing getting excited that campaigns and strategy are paying off,” countered Annan.

How to improve the sales and marketing relationship

Improving the relationship has to start at the top, said Annan. “It comes down to aligning the vision with the CEO and making sure it goes all down the line.” After that, it comes down to great communication, she said. Annan suggested that marketing and sales should get together weekly to develop strategies to deal with accounts that are struggling. Shanto noted that some companies are even folding sales and marketing together into one group under a Chief Revenue Officer.

As well, the two teams need to develop a better appreciation of what each one does. “We need the equivalent of a ‘take your kids to work day’, so they can see the challenges,” said Shanto. “It would be a learning experience for a salesperson to follow a marketing person around and vice versa.”

“At the end of the day, we need to stop looking at it like two separate limbs,” said Shanto. “Now is the time to do it.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker
Cindy Baker has over 20 years of experience in IT-related fields in the public and private sectors, as a lawyer and strategic advisor. She is a former broadcast journalist, currently working as a consultant, freelance writer and editor.

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