Sales vs Marketing: Who Pulls Rank?

By March 28, 2016
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Why is spotting true sales and marketing alignment like spying a unicorn? Today’s buyer journey demands that sales and marketing teams work together to drive leads through the funnel. Yet more often than not, sales and marketing argue about who is working with good or bad leads, who pulls rank, and who’s more valuable.

I’ve heard it a hundred times at multiple companies—marketing generated the lead that closed the biggest deal of the year, but without sales, it would have never been signed.  So who is the champion here?

The answer is simple. Both teams should be proud to have partnered on the closed deal. Neither team pulls rank over the other.

With this in mind, let’s talk about some technology and processes to get your sales and marketing teams to stop arguing, and start funneling in more deals.

Make Sure You Have the Right Technology

The advent of software solutions like marketing automation, AI-assisted marketing, and CRM can help make sales and marketing teams much more efficient—saving them time and effort by aligning around the right accounts.

Tracking Engagement

By using a marketing automation software, your marketing team can track a prospect’s engagement with your brand and report out that engagement to your sales teams. That way, when a sales rep gets her hands on the account, she can see which content the prospect was looking at. This helps the sales rep understand where the prospect is in the buying journey and how to tweak her messaging to get to the heart of what the prospect is interested in.

And the best part is, reps don’t have to leave their CRM to get this info. Today, marketing automation software talks to CRM solutions, so everything your reps need to personalize their messaging is in one place.

Measuring Fit and Intent

Predictive marketing takes this approach a step further by bringing fit and intent data into the mix. Speaking from the trenches of the sales team on this one, our Sales Development team at EverString has made some amazing strides in reaching out to the right prospects at the right time by using insights from all three of these technologies—especially predictive marketing.

When thinking about my past experience on sales teams, I am reminded of the incredible impact our predictive solution has had. There is so much more to understanding an account beyond just engagement metrics. Predictive marketing provides the data we need to understand which accounts we should actually go after, and which accounts are interacting with our brand, but not quite ready to for our product. For example, at previous organizations, we would get what looked like a hot lead from our marketing team, but it would turn out to be a student doing research, or a company that was way too small to sell into.

Predictive marketing not only helps us weed out the not so hot leads with high engagement, it also helps us understand who to call and when. It helps us understand which accounts we should prioritize, and how we should approach them. Our platform identifies high fit accounts that look and talk like our best customers. As sales reps, we can then prioritize the our time by reaching out to the people that are most likely to buy our product.

It’s Not Just About Tech, It’s About Process

No matter what technology you have in place, you can’t achieve the kind of unicorn sales and marketing alignment that you’re looking for without a solid process. Some processes I suggest putting into place:

1. Regular Meeting Cadence—You should have your sales and marketing teams meet regularly. They should meet quarterly, if not monthly for about an hour. Spend 30 minutes on what has been happening on both sides, and the other half of the time planning. Brain storm, give feedback, make goals, create strategies, discuss road maps, and even failures. Invite the whole sales organization and all of marketing.

I think I can speak for most sales reps and markers by saying that this kind of meeting can bring up some anxiety. Don’t be scared to get your teams together. This type of meeting should be welcomed and treasured. These teams drive your revenue! Make it fun, interactive, and moderated. Provide some prior direction, and have team members present ideas, deliver results, and rejoice in wins with both teams.

2. Feedback Loop— Outside of the meetings mentioned above, agree on open and constructive methods of feedback and communication. Use a team communication tool like Slack or something similar. Be honest, and professional. Give feedback, which means constructive negative feedback, AND positive feedback. Both teams should feel empowered to do this, and both teams need to keep in mind that this is about improving team and outcomes. And be wary of the ego–do not take things too personally.

3. Expose KPI’s—Make sure both sides of the organization understand the key metrics and goals of the group. Organize time to explain to the sales team how marketing is evaluated. How do they measure their success? On the flip side, make sure marketing knows how sales is operating and the goals of the sales team. Understanding these things can help each team provide more effective feedback in achieving the shared goal—MORE REVENUE!

4. Cross Train– Make sure the sales and marketing teams each know the day-to-day processes of their counterpart. I would recommend spending a day going over this in regular office hours. During this time, pair up sales reps and marketers and have each team member perform their daily activities while explaining the purpose of each task.

The goal is to create a shadowing type of experience. Doing so will lend empathy for the struggle and effort put in by each individual on both sides of the team–this also allows teams to bond and connect on a personal level. Marketers are people, and sales reps are people.  We should understand that no one is perfect, and there are struggles in all roles. Once in a while, you could do an offsite training with both groups or do some team bonding activities like a dinner or bowling. Make it fun. After all, for most of us, we see our co-workers more than our spouses!

5. Get Your Hands Dirty– Last but not least, if there is an unwilling, biased, and belligerent party in the marketing or sales org who is creating bad blood and friction in the business, don’t be afraid to address the problem. At the end of the day, as a leader in your business,  you are building teams made up of the best people. If one or two folks are causing problems internally, then they may be reducing your chances to win in the big picture. It may be time to evaluate how this person may be negatively influencing the greater good. As we all know, a chain is only a strong as the weakest link.

As a seasoned sales guy, I have to tell you the struggle is real in most every organization I have ever been in. Sales and marketing misalignment is not new, and its not going to just fix itself. Make the effort and invest the people on your teams. Get to the root of the matter, and apply some of the above best practices to help alignment of your sales and marketing teams. Before you know it, everyone will be more focused, more understanding, and in the end, more effective.

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