It’s time to combat sales and marketing ‘sibling rivalry’ for good

Posted on March 8, 2017 by Vic Miller

Four young children play fight in the street

Much like sibling rivalries, we’re all familiar with the tug-of-war conflicts that flare up between sales and marketing teams. Rather than working as one integrated ‘family unit’, departments often become siloed with different perspectives and opposing strategic objectives.

Sales and marketing teams end up going head-to-head to compete for attention (and most importantly ever-tightening budgets!) and the end result is often chaotic and completely ineffective. The problem is, as with any sibling conflict, the resolution is never simple.  

We asked the B2B experts at Man Bites Dog’s recent Big Bite event to shed some light on this complex issue and suggest how we can rekindle some sales and marketing love.

Julie Parsons, Global Marketing Communications Director at White & Case, highlighted the importance of showcasing joint successes: “We find champions and kick off an initiative with a passionate BD on side. We then make a rip-roaring success of it and … show how it can be done when marketing and sales people work together as one team.”

Tim Stone, VP Marketing EMEA at Polycom, also stressed the importance of collaboration: “Have joint meetings with marketing and sales to set targets (metrics and ROI) and create partnership. It’s not rocket science but you need to put that discipline in place.”

Sharing achievements and promoting teamwork are tried and tested methods, but with such embedded rivalry often more is needed to align sales and marketing teams when they fail to see eye-to-eye. We recommend:

Find common commercial ground.

As marketers, it's really exciting when you experience the eureka moment on a big idea. You know it’s right and that it will deliver commercially. But, the issue is getting buy-in from your sales team - often the most problematic part of the process.

The key is to get them involved from the start. Think practically about their needs, the specific audiences they are targeting and the types of discussions they’re having. Explain openly about how your idea can generate content that will lead to effective sales conversations.

Identify the person who will shout the loudest.

It’s not always possible to get every member of your sales team on board with your ideas. It would be an unfeasible task. But, this doesn’t matter, you only need to focus your attention on those with influence: ‘visionaries’ (supporters) and ‘blockers’ (opposers).

Visionaries and blockers can make or break the success of your idea. So, be clear about how your campaign aligns to your organisation’s wider objectives, why your chosen topic matters to your clients and customers, and highlight how results can be measured and what targets your campaign expects to achieve. This information will arm your visionaries with everything they need to be your biggest advocate and will help to combat resistance from blockers.

Set yourself up for success.

As Julie explained, a successful joint sales and marketing project is key to future collaboration. So, make sure that failure is not an option. Develop clear, tangible and realistic goals and timeframes for your project - it sounds simple but it’s vital for success. To stay on track, it’s important to limit interference and keep stakeholder involvement tightly controlled.

If only it were that easy to keep my two sons in check!


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