February 21, 2017

5 Warning Signs That Your Sales And Marketing Teams Are At War


WAR. What is it good for? Certainly not creating a cohesive and cooperative atmosphere between your sales and marketing teams.

The two have a reputation for being at loggerheads, and while that’s certainly not true in all businesses, there is no smoke without fire. With the relationship between the two teams changing, and marketing accounting for far more of the sales pipeline than ever before, tensions are increasingly clear to see.

Friction between these two teams can be damaging to individuals, and is always damaging to the business. As a business owner, the trick is to catch the warning signs early and create a peace treaty before war begins.

Here are five red flags that your sales and marketing departments are at war.

  1. Sales complain about the quality of leads

If you hear grumbling from the sales team about the quality of leads that marketing supply, there may be trouble brewing.

There are two problems here: one is expectation, the other is feedback. Sales will often – unrealistically – expect an immediate sale from leads provided to them, and this can cloud judgement of lead quality.

When this happens, even a 50% conversion rate can be seen as a failure when, in fact, even a 20% conversion rate is excellent. If a salesperson isn’t prepared for a consultative sales call, then they haven’t been briefed properly, and expectations are all wrong. The leads, and marketing’s ability to deliver them, will appear to be the root cause of the problem.

Better feedback is required to prevent the problem recurring. Instead of simply saying “This lead didn’t convert”, a business owner should ask why: was it the wrong person or the wrong type of business, or was it simply that the timing wasn’t right? With feedback from the sales team, marketing can hone and tweak their efforts accordingly. Great communication is key from the very beginning. Which leads us to...

  1. There is a lack of “sensible” communication

Let’s look at a real-world example: a business owner we worked with heard grumbles from both sales and marketing and decided to investigate. As a result, they started discussing process with the marketing manager.

The marketing manager claimed the communication between the two teams was excellent: the sales team would email her with their requests, and she would guarantee that within 24-hours, she would let them know if the request was to be considered further or denied.

Perfect. Except the sales team sat just six feet away. The frustration from sales was completely understandable.

These kinds of processes can easily be put in place without review, but process shouldn’t trump common sense. Sales and marketing alignment is down to good planning: get the communication right from the planning stage, and issues like these will not emerge.

  1. Sales don’t understand marketing, marketing don’t understand sales

If neither team understands the mentality of the other, how to support them or what’s driving them, you’re asking for trouble.

To resolve the situation, marketing teams can be invited to attend sales meetings, or even better, have a sales and marketing meeting to talk about the bigger picture. Both departments are essentially striving for the same business goals and having an insight into each others’ roles, challenges and goals can be hugely beneficial. Another great trick is to send marketing teams on sales training courses or vice versa: anything that increases understanding and harmony is worth exploring.

  1. SLAs are slipping

If the targets set for marketing are very different to the targets set for sales, you can quickly see dissension in the ranks. Both teams should be held to similar levels of accountability with shared goals. While there will be differing levels of responsibility for both teams, it is vital to assess the marketing team on the same metrics as the sales team – new business and revenue. These targets should be clear, visible to all, and agreed up front.

If marketing’s SLAs have been achieved but sales are tanking, there’s a problem. If sales are closing leads but have too few of them, then something is missing.

Marketing should agree to deliver the leads that sales need to hit their targets, while sales should follow up on a set number of leads per month to ensure that marketing efforts are not in vain. The quality of leads should be clearly defined and agreed – measuring both numbers and quality – while business leaders should be receiving regular SLA reports from both parties.

  1. A feeling

Clashes between two teams will often make themselves known in the form of a drop in office morale. A change in the atmosphere, a decline in visible communication and shifts in the attitudes of your sales and marketing departments can all be signs of trouble brewing.

The solution? Keep your eyes and ears to the ground. Fostering an open door culture will encourage employees to speak up if morale starts to drop, while internal anonymous staff attitude surveys can also help even the most reticent to voice their concerns. By weeding out any issues early on, it will prevent them from festering - small skirmishes are easier to handle than a full-blown war.

Friction between different teams is only natural and is a sign both teams are hungry for success and constantly striving for improvement, with both working towards the same end goal. War will prevent them achieving their potential, however. It’s vital to sign a peace treaty as soon as possible, as sales and marketing are far more successful as allies than as enemies.

Article provided by The Marketing Centre,the number one provider of experienced part-time Marketing Directors to ambitious businesses. TMClogo.png

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Jaynie Smith - Competitive Advantage


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