"It's complicated" would be the proper way to describe the love/hate relationship between Sales and Marketing. They depend on each other to succeed, but they don't often get along. Each has a preconceived notion of what the other should be. The interesting part is that this rather intense relationship seems to persist from the most junior personnel all the way up to senior executives.
Marketing often considers the disconnect as inevitable and has learned to live with it. It is, however, neither comfortable nor productive.
Having been on both sides of the fence, I have a few tips to offer to my fellow marketers. Hopefully, these tips will help make your Sales stakeholders fall in love with you.
Tip No. 1: Be specific when asking for input
Marketing needs input from Sales throughout the planning cycle. A common mistake that many of us make is that we tend to be too general when we have a conversation with Sales. We ask questions such as "How can I help you"? "What do you need from marketing"? These open-ended questions often invite plenty of creative yet unattainable ideas. They also set false expectations for Marketing from the get-go.
Instead, be very deliberate and specific when speaking with your Sales counterparts. Listen to what they have to say, but define your questions to seek actionable input. For example: "My budget is X and my resources are Y. Given that you have these five priorities to focus on this quarter, where would be the biggest bang for the buck for marketing?"
This approach makes conversations more productive, helps everyone to focus, sets realistic expectations, and turns input into actionable output.
Tip No. 2: Act like an expert in your own domain