Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams in a Rivalry?

Growth

Make sales and marketing teams work together.

marketing team rivalryIn August 2013, I attended a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston with a client, a CEO of a growing SaaS company. It wasn’t just any game – it was a Red Sox-Yankees game.

I had no rooting interest but it got entertaining quickly when Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster beaned Yankee Alex Rodriguez squarely in the back, and the Red Sox crowd went wild. Not to be outdone, Rodriguez in his next at bat got his revenge with a centerfield home run. The shocker was the roar from the Yankees’ contingency.

While we watched the rest of the heated game play out, my client commented that sometimes his sales and marketing teams act like they’re in a rivalry. I laughed at first, but I remembered a survey quantifying his concern.

If you haven’t seen the results of this semi-famous survey, let me quickly recap. The Corporate Executive Board asked hundreds of sales and marketing executives to describe their similar yet often distant colleagues. Descriptions like “incompetent” and “paper pushers” were both highlighted as responses.

Overall, 87% of the words were negative. That’s right; this isn’t a one-way street problem. Both sides clearly have some disdain for the other. Hopefully your organization’s teams aren’t beaning each other in the back, but I suspect you know it could be better.  I’ve seen it both work well and be a real challenge in my own companies and in our clients’ companies.

Here are several concepts to help you squelch the rivalry and get sales and marketing on the same page.

  • Thou Shall Meet (Separately). Host a joint growth meeting separate from your sales or marketing meetings. Believe it or not, both teams do believe in one common thing… growth!  Since your sales numbers are a lagging indicator, focus the meeting on the funnel metrics fueling your revenue with this group.  Your early discussions should be centered on identifying and agreeing upon ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and what is working today to help growth.  Later you can focus on what’s not working and new ideas.
  • What Is Proven Gets To Stay. Another great exercise for that growth meeting is outlining and agreeing as a group on which campaigns are evergreen and what is worth experimenting with. I’ve seen it many times: A company openly sharing what is working and agreeing to test what might work gets better growth.  By publicly displaying the performance of your evergreen campaigns and your growth experiments, your full team can get excited about what’s working and the momentum you’re building.  Employees enjoy being part of a successful growing company and they will create a positive combination of more growth, better morale and a better culture.
  • The Message Matters. Outside of metrics, start hosting a quarterly review of messaging. Many times, marketers are not speaking the same language as sales and it confuses prospects and both teams. There should be common messaging about the company and its products with freedom for both groups to customize it for specific uses.
  • Track And Share. Organizations with a chief revenue officer (CRO) are well equipped to track and share key growth metrics with multiple internal parties. However, if you’re not quite ready for a CRO, consider finding a person or small team to track and report the specific growth metrics to the larger team or entire organization. Again, if you can pull from both teams, your agreement on the numbers will only improve.
  • Be In The Helping Business. Clearly define how each group should be helping each other. For example, this SaaS company’s marketing was responsible for feeding leads to sales. However, they never stated it publicly nor did they define how many leads were expected. The same was true for sales, where marketing needed more than anecdotal feedback on which leads were good or bad – and more importantly why. Don’t leave this to chance. Explain how and when to share information (possibly at your joint growth meeting).

By getting sales and marketing to realize they’re both on the growth team, you can start to change not only their behavior, but create real momentum for your entire team.  Start with the joint growth meetings, agree on what’s working and what needs to be tested for future growth.  Then communicate to the larger team in a public place your progress with experiments, outcomes and messaging.

This leads your sales and marketing teams to center their attention on being part of one growth team and leaves the rivalries to those competing on the baseball diamond.

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