Business myth buster – Sales make money while marketing spends it

4 steps to aligning your sales and marketing teams

By Brad Buchanan, Chief Operating Officer, Prime Creative Media

“We call marketing ‘sales prevention’,” one of our biggest customers once told me. He was the sales manager of a major Australian brand, one that spends millions of dollars per year on marketing. Despite this significant investment, the sales team saw little value in what the marketing team offered. They joked while they made the company money, the marketing team preferred to spend it. The sales team was seen as a group of lone operators out on the road, while marketing managed the complex task of understanding trends and the industry.

Sadly, over the years I’ve seen this clash between the sales and marketing teams all too often. Two departments focused on the same purpose, working off unconnected strategies. Sales managers invest time and money to train up their staff to better understand the markets they are working in, while marketers spend countless hours researching to better understand their end clients.

Could the solution to an effective sales and marketing strategy be as simple as bringing the two departments together? It sure is. And yet few companies understand how to properly align their sales and marketing departments to make each more effective. We offer this four-step guide to aligning the sales and marketing departments.

Step 1 – Set up short but regular meetings between the sales and marketing departments.

In his book Scaling Up, Verne Harnish outlines regular meetings as the key to growing an organisation. He notes that in the best-run global companies, the CEOs calendar is preprogrammed 200 days of the year. “Teams need regular, face-to-face huddles to discuss new opportunities, strategic concerns, and bottlenecks as they arise.” The key to keeping these meetings short is with set agendas, and a leader that can keep the team on track.

Step 2 – Share relevant information.

A good sales person will have several one-on-one conversations with clients every day. The best sales people take this time to understand their clients’ needs and concerns. This is incredible insight to share with the marketing team. At every meeting, each sales person should share the most relevant and prevalent feedback they are getting from their clients.

While the sales team is focused on what it takes to make a sale today, the marketing team should be taking a more bird’s eye view at data that is driving marketing decisions. What posts on the web site are most popular? Which products are selling the best? Which marketing channels are getting the most traction? Depending on your industry, the marketing team should pick three to five key metrics that they monitor, and share these with the team regularly.

Step 3 – Develop a narrative for your clients.

Think about your ideal client and develop a narrative that draws together this day-to-day feedback from the sales team with these overarching trends. For instance: “Client X is having this problem because of X market trends – fortunately our product X is here to save the day.” Once the marketing team and sales team agree on the specifics of the narrative, this story will naturally shape the sales and marketing strategy.

Step 4 – Follow-through and repeat.

To think that a single sales or marketing strategy can fit everyone is a major mistake. As the market, clients, and products develop, this needs to be a continual process. Teams need to have the humility to continually look at what they are doing, and how they can do it better. And – most importantly – what they can learn from each other.