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  • Shannon Carlson

Why can't we be friends?

Updated: 7 days ago

The love-hate relationship between sales and marketing



Ironically, most sales and marketing folks have the same goals. If they are good at what they do, they want to drive revenue for the company because when the company does well, they usually do, too. So why can’t marketing and sales play together nicely in the sandbox? I think there are a few reasons why.


  1. They were raised to think sales and marketing were frenemies (friends who are enemies).

  2. They don’t understand each other’s roles.

  3. They think they can do each other’s roles.


They were raised to think sales and marketing were frenemies.


When you were growing up, did you ever have a neighbor who you wanted to play with, but your mom didn’t get along with their mom, so you couldn’t hang out? Many sales and marketing departments operate that way. We’ve been conditioned to think that sales are over here and marketing is over there. This is the complete opposite mindset of what we should have because sales and marketing can have mutually beneficial relationships with each other. With each other's help, they could be an unstoppable force. I have worked in companies that built silos, further hurting culture, communication, and ultimately their revenue. I think Ronald Reagan said it wisely, “By working together, pooling our resources and building on our strengths, we can accomplish great things.” Sales and marketing need each other and must pool their strengths to create a cohesive sales process. If they understood each other's roles and had open communications, then they would realize they’re really friends and not enemies. So what are their roles?


They don’t understand each other's roles.


What do sales and marketing do? Salespeople are hired to sell a company's products and/or services. They manage accounts and relationships and are usually held accountable for whether or not the company is making money. Sales jobs are hard. Oftentimes you get 100 no's before you get one yes. Business-to-business sales are particularly tough because they can incur longer sales cycles which take longer to pay commissions. And most sales jobs have a low base salary with a high percentage commission, making many salespeople more impatient and irritable because a lot is riding on that sale. Sales are also one of the highest-paying jobs in a company and highly rewarding. Marketing on the other hand, while rewarding, is not typically the highest-paying. In fact, most marketers wear a lot of hats. They might be asked to plan an event, write a company-wide email from the CEO, design a brochure, or manage advertising campaigns while sticking to a tight budget, in most cases. Some companies even undervalue marketing, so they hire fewer people to do more jobs. Marketers also have the mindset to arm the sales team with materials to make sure they’re successful. I can tell you from a marketer's perspective, it can be really tough to be a marketer. Marketers are responsible for company image, driving traffic to very expensive websites, and generating leads to make sure the sales team has a steady flow of prospects.


They think they can do each other’s roles.


Where we really get it wrong is thinking we can do each other’s roles. I remember when I first started working at one of my previous jobs, someone called me a “glorified social media poster” before they ever saw the work I could do. I eventually built these amazing email templates for salespeople to send out to their clients, and I trained the sales team on how to use LinkedIn to their advantage through social selling. The company increased their communication with clients and learned a new avenue to get leads. It was a win-win.


According to Forbes, 60% of B2B content sits unused. Why? Because salespeople often try to produce their own collateral. Salespeople are very talented in that they can pretty much sell anything to anyone and wear very thick skin, but their design and writing skills, not so much. Better to leave that to the marketers. Marketers are talented in that they have a creative eye and strive to support many different initiatives for very little recognition. Sales and marketing folks: stay in your lane. What needs to happen is a mindset shift. Realizing each other's strengths in our respective sales and marketing roles will ultimately make your job easier and pay dividends to the company. Look at it like this: Marketing is like the pitcher ... on the mound ... ready to throw a 90-mile-an-hour fastball right down the middle to the salesperson ... so they can knock it out of the park. We need the pitcher and the batter. Typically pitchers don’t bat at the top of the lineup because they aren’t very good hitters. That’s why we need to stick to what we are good at and utilize our co-worker's abilities for the good of the team.


My final chirp

Really communication is key here. It is what lacks the most and why there is such a disconnect. Oftentimes salespeople expect something and in a timely manner, and marketing is trying to keep up and do things the right way for the good of the brand. It is important to be aligned on initiatives from both sides. Marketers should be communicating the plan and an overall strategy so everyone is aligned. Having regular meetings to talk about what each other is doing to grow revenue will eliminate confusion and decrease animosity. Marketers drive leads so salespeople can close them and benefit the company. When used correctly, they make an unstoppable revenue-generating team. BlueByrd offers a Sales and Marketing Workshop that will help your sales and marketing teams get on the same page and hit the fastball out of the park.



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