Ah, sales and marketing. They're like two siblings fighting in the back seat while mom, pop—or a company executive—drives the car.
I don't know how to stop all this bickering (and as a battle-weary father myself, I'm not interested in "who started it"), but I can suggest a few ways my brothers and sisters on the marketing side can ease the tension by better serving their sales brethren with more productive collateral.
1. Make them responsible for defining the target
We've all been through this: After months of hard labor, your campaign has generated leads that now sit, undisturbed, under the sales guy's fantasy football crib sheet. You're angry because he's not leveraging the leads you worked so hard to get. His defense? They're "bad" leads not worth pursuing.
You can both stop this fight before it even begins. Bring the sales team to the table to define exactly what a qualified lead should be. Include factors such as industry, region, company size, titles, budgets, purchasing timeframe, etc. Your goal? A precise target to which you'll aim your lead-generation campaigns and your collateral systems—their formats and content. You'll have a better idea of what to write because you'll know who you're writing for.
Getting sales team buy-in on lead definition is both good practice and good politics. If you hit the defined target, sales can't blame marketing for failing to deliver. More important, their shared sense of responsibility is a powerful incentive for collaboration—for making your efforts work.
2. Think beyond the lead
Here's where sales has a legitimate beef with marketing. Often the overwhelming bulk of the marketing budget goes to the top of the sales funnel, toward lead generation. But for big-ticket items with long sales cycles, the sales people have to make multiple contacts before they even come close to the close.
Jonathan Kranz is the author of Writing Copy for Dummies and a copywriting veteran now in his 21st year of independent practice. A popular and provocative speaker, Jonathan offers in-house marketing writing training sessions to help organizations create more content, more effectively.
LinkedIn: Jonathan Kranz