The Unlikely Love Story Between Sales And Marketing

With Valentine’s Day this weekend, let’s take a look at how their relationship should actually be a mutually beneficial data loop—not a one-way street.

The Unlikely Love Story Between Sales And Marketing

If you ask most people how they see the relationship between marketing and sales, they’ll generally say there’s little love lost between the two.

Less-than-healthy debates and assigning blame are the hallmarks of their dialogue, and there’s very little mutual appreciation. One side says sales does a lousy job converting the opportunities that marketing creates, while the other says marketing produces few prospects that are worth following up with.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. With Valentine’s Day this weekend, I wanted to take this opportunity to uncover the unlikely love that can bloom between sales and marketing teams. Taking a different perspective can reveal how their relationship should actually be a mutually beneficial data loop—not a one-way street. With constantly updated information about the customer informing both departments, sales and marketing can join together to deliver the best possible experience for buyers—and generate happy customers.

Marketers Want To Communicate

Looking back at the history of the relationship will show that the source of disagreement results from the process that marketers and salespeople use to handle prospects and communicate feedback. The traditional view is that marketing develops the prospect to a certain stage and then throws it over the fence to the sales team, which takes over from that point to close the deal. This looks more like an assembly line than a courtship, and the result is that customers are treated like widgets rather than individuals with unique needs.

In reality, more back and forth occurs between sales and marketing—or at least that’s the way it should be. In fact, a recent study shows that 70 percent of marketers want more meetings with their sales departments, not a taller fence between the two departments. Marketers care deeply about how their prospects are handled, and they want to do as much as possible to ensure they turn into happy customers. This means going beyond a handoff of contact information and communicating the prospect’s background and behavior and any other insight they pick up in the demand gen process. With advances in marketing automation technology, a lot of insight can be generated around each prospect.

Salespeople also understand that their role has changed over the years from being mainly educators (the people that first meet with the customer and provide background information on the product or service) to facilitators (helping people understand what they need, as empowered buyers now have access to deep online resources often generated by marketing departments). When salespeople are equipped with the full context around the prospects, they can tailor their approach to strategically engage with each prospect, in a thoughtful, well-planned, and—most importantly—highly personalized manner.

How Salespeople Can Show Appreciation For Marketers

As much as salespeople require meaningful context to create successful interactions with prospects, marketers also need feedback from sales to make sure their campaigns are helping the company’s bottom line. As anyone in a successful relationship will tell you, communication is key. There’s a big difference between a prospect that never responds to a single call or email and one that makes it to the final stage of the buying process before choosing to hold off or go with a competitor. Even though the deal never closed, marketers will obviously want to generate more prospects that make it further down the funnel. But without communication from sales, marketers can’t get a detailed picture about how successful their efforts truly are—and how to make improvements.

In addition, nobody in a loving relationship likes to feel like their input and efforts are being ignored. Similarly, a common complaint among marketers is that salespeople fail to follow up on the prospects they work hard to generate. Although salespeople will tell you that not all prospects are created equal, sales acceleration technologies increasingly empower organizations to distribute and follow up with all prospects in a timely manner (prioritizing the most important ones). By adopting a controlled process that ensures prospects don’t fall through the cracks, sales teams not only increase the number of new accounts, but also demonstrate their appreciation for the efforts of the marketing department.

The traditional idea of a hand off from marketing to sales doesn’t do justice to the potentially beautiful relationship that can develop between the two. This special bond thrives on communication and trust, which translates into a constant feedback loop of data and transparent processes that both departments can see. With each truly dedicated to informing one another with as much information on prospects and follow-up results as possible, they can turn more opportunities into satisfied customers who stay loyal to your company, happily ever after.