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Three Habits of a Harmonious Sales and Marketing Relationship

by Gareth Cartman  |  
September 25, 2013

Do we have to keep reinforcing the stereotype that Sales and Marketing donít get on? After all, canít we just be friends?

The discussion dates back to, well, the formation of Sales and Marketing functions. Marketing complains about Sales not closing deals or following up on leads. Sales complains about Marketing not providing enough leads---or enough quality leads. And so the cycle goes on.

It happens like this because itís always happened like this. Itís like the analogy of the monkeys being sprayed by water. The monkeys get replaced, but the behavior continues.

Some organizations have seen past this and have successfully married Marketing and Sales into a harmonious relationship. No divorce here---the two are intertwined. If one is successful, the other is successful; if one fails, the other fails. So, what habits do these organizations have that make for a fruitful sales and marketing alliance?

1. They rely on technology

You can have as many cross-functional meetings as you like, but if you donít have a system that both teams use, then the time spent outside meetings will be wasted. CRM systems vary in complexity, but essentially both have slightly overlapping areas for sales and marketing. Neither need venture too much into the otherís area; the key is that overlap in the middle.

The sharing of information counts. Dynamics blogger Warren Butler calls it a forward-thinking CRM system that bridges the gap between Sales and Marketing. Heís right---and the key is that overlap in our virtual Venn diagram. Concentrate on the dashboards and reports that both teams view regularly, and communication improves vastly.

2. Marketing holds on to leads longer

When everyone is focused on cost per lead, low-quality leads find themselves pushed too quickly through the pipeline. The truth is that there is no such thing as a low-quality lead---itís just a lead that isnít ready yet. So hold onto it.

I liked a recent post I read about lead scoring and nurturing. It points out that customers who visit 30 or more pages on your website are more likely to convert. You set the thresholds because you know your prospects.

The best relationships between Marketing and Sales are the ones where marketing are holding back their leads as long as they can. They key is to understand when to release them. Use scoring systems to work out how ďreadyĒ a prospect is, and work with Sales to define the thresholds at which a lead goes from Marketing to Sales.

Sales doesnít want to (and doesn't need to) know whatís going on at the top of the funnel. So, Marketing, donít tell them---they keep their cards close to their chest and only play the best cards.

3. Sales gives feedback regularly to Marketing

Feedback doesnít have to take place in meetings, or over the phone. It can be through that technology I mentioned earlier. Rate it out of five, leave a comment, tick a few boxes---so long as the feedback is consistent and actionable, then Marketing teams can understand whatís happening once they hand off a lead.

The key here is to ensure that feedback is kept within a framework, and that we donít enter an eBay-type situation in which only highly negative or highly positive information is pushed out. Above all, sales managers have to drill their teams to feed back on every single lead and not to give up.

Itís all about keeping the loop going round.

Technology, lead hand-off, and feedback. If you get these three pillars right, then the relationship between Sales and Marketing will run smoothly. Itís a collaboration. Everyone has the same aims, objectives, and targets, and it doesnít take hours of meetings sat around a table to get everyone working together. Itís all about a framework based around technology, common sense, and feedback.

Do that, and youíll start to see the increased revenue that comes from a harmonious relationship!

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Gareth Cartman is SEO consultant at Clever Little Design.

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