The Friday 5: Sales vs Marketing complaints and how to start resolving them

They’ll sound familiar to many businesses – but they don’t have to stay that way.

July 24, 2015

They’ll sound familiar to any business: the complaints that get fired off against one another by sales and marketing teams. From wasted money to abandoned strategies, withheld information, unwarranted power grabs and dodgy, unqualified leads. These issues can seem like an inevitable result of having separate sales and marketing functions – but they don’t have to be. If you are serious about aligning sales and marketing, you’ll find it pays to get proactive about resolving them.

“Marketing wastes money”

The most obvious source of conflict between sales and marketing is an economic one. Businesses have limited budget to put towards generating new revenues – and that often means the two teams are battling for a share of the same pot. The more budget devoted to marketing campaigns, the less available for sales teams’ commissions or the promotional discounts that can make the job of selling easier. And while metrics for success in sales are obvious and unambiguous, marketing has often struggled to demonstrate how top-of-funnel activity, in particular, translates into revenue. That’s why marketing platforms that are able to target activity and track effectiveness throughout the funnel have such a key role to play in integrating sales and marketing.

“Sales won’t stick to the strategy”

Whether it’s pushing for lower pricing, pushing non-priority products or simply being too pushy with prospects, marketers often feel that sales teams abandon carefully laid strategic plans at the first sign of difficulty. It’s an issue that bubbles to the surface all the more often as sales and marketing use many of the same digital channels to talk to the same audiences. Why don’t sales teams always respect the strategy? It often comes down to the way the two departments’ incentives are aligned. Sales reps can’t earn commission without closing deals – and a deal closed at a lower price or on a low-priority product that's easier to shift is better than no deal at all. However, lack of communication has a role to play here too. If marketing doesn’t make the internal case for brand and product strategy, with clear linkages to how it will drive higher-value sales in the future, then it’s less likely to command loyalty on the sales frontline.

“Marketing doesn’t qualify leads properly”

In a study we released last year, 95% of marketers said that lead quality was important to them, and yet 40% admitted they didn’t know what a qualified lead was. That’s a pretty critical weakness when it comes to building closer working relationships at the bottom of the sales funnel. An agreed basis for lead scoring should be one of the first foundations in a closer working relationship between sales and marketing – and it helps if both teams have a common understanding of what those scores mean in context. Visibility of nurture streams can play a key role in making it happen.

“Sales won’t give us the information we need”

Frontline insight on what customers want, think and feel is vital for marketing planning – and yet the people best placed to provide that insight often seem too busy dashing to the next sales meeting to share it. Closer communication between sales and marketing delivers benefits to both – but it can’t be achieved just by block-booking time in sales diaries. That way resentment lies. Many of the most integrated sales and marketing operations got that way by physically locating sales and marketing teams together so that they share information more naturally. But if that’s not possible, there are plenty of ways for technology to help the process along. Many of the most valued features of and Marketo are those that enable sales teams to pass on information seamlessly, with automation cutting down on the time involved. And the more insights that marketing can draw directly from customers’ digital behaviour, the less they have to interrogate sales as to what’s gong on. This allows the time that sales and marketing do spend together to focus on the most critical info and insights.

“Marketing is trying to run everything”

This complaint gets to the heart of an emerging issue for sales and marketing: the question of who really owns the digital communications strategy. The latest edition of the What Works Where study from B2B agency Omobono found that, whereas 88% of marketers think that marketing should lead it, only 23% of non-marketers agree. However, the same study also found that when marketing and sales are working to an agreed digital communications strategy, belief in the effectiveness of communications trebles. Working together to define nurture streams based around what customers and prospects actually do provides an agreed basis for integrating social selling and digital marketing – and make both more effective.If any of these sales vs marketing complaints sound familiar, then a full-funnel nurturing strategy can play a key role helping to resolve them.