Let me start by acknowledging that salespeople always believe their marketing departments can do more to help them succeed. And, if they had unlimited budgets, maybe there is an element of truth to that. In the real world, especially the current real world, budgets are limited. During a company reorganization, I had an opportunity to fill in for a very short period of time as a Director of B2B Marketing and I had a quick glimpse of all that falls under the term or department of “Marketing”. (I had to buy a Marketing dictionary to make it through a department meeting!)
Over the years, I continue to find it interesting how separate sales & marketing departments remain. As a salesperson, I have some ideas as to how my sales and marketing teams could form a better partnership that helps customers and sales reps. I mean well and I invite those more schooled in marketing (almost anyone!) to disagree.
Marketing and sales need to commuicate regularly. Too often, I have seen this communication as a one-way street, typically Marketing sending e-mails to the sales team about new marketing tools, campaigns, etc. The sales team does not have time to give input until it’s too late, if at all.
Salespeople, while often skeptics, can give marketing a “real world” perspective on upcoming marketing programs and ideas before it’s too late to turn back.
To accomplish this simply requires some standard commuication. I would create an “advisory group” of sales managers and mainly sales people. This advisory group would act as consultants for the marketing team. The marketing team should share their program ideas with this group and allow them to react. Marketing should actually ask “what are all the reasons this may not work”. I would hire an outside consultant to facilitate these discussions to make sure marketing leaves with valuable information about how to best spend their limited resources.
Then, I would ask marketing to provide regular education to sales. So often marketing does amazing research on the industry, customer needs and wins and losses and somehow this information doesn’t make it to the sales team. Marketing may be basing decisions about future marketing programs on this great information. It would be so helpful to salespeople if this great research was shared with them so, as a sales organization, they could apply it to their customer interactions to create more value for our customers. Customers love information and sharing that information makes salespeople that much more valuable in the marketplace.
And, sales has this same responsibility. Salespeople are hearing directly from customers every day. There needs to be a discipline around sharing this information with the marketing team. Marketing could interview a certain number of salespeople each month to get the “pulse” of the customer. Even if this is simply anecdotal, trends emerge pretty quickly. Marketing can add some “science” to the knowledge gained from these interviews and make more informed decisions about needed programs.
Finally, sales training can play a partnership role, also. Maybe marketing has identified a need for certain products or services in a particular industry, title or functional area. They now plan to market to this industry or function. Sales training can play a role by equipping the sales team to sell to this targeted customer.
While the last thing we need is more meetings, it seems collaboration between marketing functions and sales functions could produce some amazing results.
Please feel free to share thoughts, ideas and reactions on the partnership between sales and marketing.