It’s time to end the quiet rivalry between marketing and sales

Work together to work better - that's the message of Shootsta's VP of global marketing Lauren Stephenson.

Years ago, working for another company I found myself having to work with what could be best described as a “cowboy sales lead”.

He was the lone ranger of sales. He shrugged off my best efforts to work with them, and better coordinate our marketing efforts. I would book in meetings and calls that he wouldn’t attend. My team wouldn’t hear about any leads or prospects they were targeting. He literally wanted nothing to do with me or my team.

What’s worse, the rest of his team saw what he was doing, his disregard for our work, and took on his behavior. Suddenly the entire sales team of this company was actively cutting itself off from its marketers.

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My experience isn’t unique. There’s likely plenty of marketers out there banging their heads on their desk over this very issue. But it’s not one-sided either. While we may be reluctant to admit it, some marketers out there want nothing to do with sales. They focus on the messaging, branding and whether the product is generating leads, forgetting that the goal is to convert them.

I’m calling out, and calling for an end to this quiet, but very real rivalry between marketing and sales. Speaking from experience you can accomplish so much more by bringing the two departments together. Yet so many organisations encourage this divide by pitting the two divisions against each other.

There’s so many arguments as to why these divisions need to work together. But for me, it’s really encapsulated in the fact that the idea for one of our most effective campaigns during this difficult year – the launch of our educational web series The Shootsta Show – came from the sales team. There’s only so much you can learn about your market from research and analysis. Insight from the sales team can provide more granular details on what messages actually convert prospects and what touchpoints pulled them into the sales pipeline. They are your eyes and ears on your market.

Meanwhile, marketers can make the sales teams’ job significantly easier, and in more ways than just bringing in leads. Savvy marketers can arm the sales with everything they need to simply go out and sell. For the most part, this is content or collateral. Sales people don’t have the time or inclination to reinvent the wheel and create the content they may need to secure a lead. To be honest, their time is best spent working on their pipeline and selling.

There’s some simple ways to bridge this divide if it exists in your company. The first is open communication. If the sales and marketing teams aren’t talking regularly, they tend to assume the other group isn’t doing their job and that breeds animosity. This is especially true of marketing. Unless you regularly communicate what you are doing, it can be a bit of a black box. We’ve cut to the chase and combined the two departments. The marketing team sits with the sales team.

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The second is to link KPIs. The marketing team’s goal is essentially to make sure the sales team reaches their quota. We crunch their data to determine how many meetings it takes to typically land a client, how many leads we need to generate in order to land new business. One way we sell at Shootsta is with personalised video. Video content isn’t reserved solely for the marketing team anymore. We’ve helped the sales team polish this tactic by using data to determine what messages work at certain points during the conversion process. They now can scale their personal outreach videos to prospects and opportunities. This has become crucial during COVID-19 and allowed us to continue selling at a pace in many of the regions that are used to being sold through in person meetings.

The final bit of advice is that this is only achievable if you have a C-Suite team that sees the value in both sales and marketing. You can’t work together if you’re pitting one against the other. While this trend is fading, there are still organisations out there that are breeding the animosity.

Our client numbers have grown during COVID-19, and for me that’s proof that our approach is working. We’re still able to sell into global enterprises and secure deals in spite of this titanic shift in how we communicate and do business.

I am glad to report that I’m hearing less and less stories from marketer friends about dealing with lone ranger sales mavericks. While sales is geared towards personal performance, it is a team sport as the outcome affects the entire organisation.

Lauren Stephenson is the VP of global marketing for Shootsta.


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