Many non-specialists think that sales and marketing are in the same department because they’re so closely related. However, their differences become apparent when there is tension between the two teams.
Sometimes, it is obvious that the sales and marketing departments don’t click. Sometimes, their relationship can be downright hostile. For a business, this could be the start of a disaster. If a company is to succeed, its sales and marketing departments must work in concert to achieve the same goals.
Below, 13 professionals from Forbes Communications Council look at the telltale signs of a bad sales-marketing relationship and offer their best advice on how businesses can address the issue.
1. Misalignment Of Plans And Goals
Misalignment is the first sign of friction between your teams. Whether this is with the tactical plan execution or a clash on broader goals, it’s important for your sales and marketing teams to immediately reconnect and realign. Meet with your teams to discuss the pillars of your business strategy, and determine what “success” looks like and how you plan to measure progress together. – Lynn Kier, Diebold Nixdorf
2. Lack Of Feedback Or Criticism
If you are not getting feedback — or even criticism — from your sales team, you’ve got a problem. The sales team that has given up telling you what’s not working is a sales team that has ended its relationship with you. – Apurva Dave, Productiv
3. No Communication Among Team Members
Little or no communication among team members is a sign of bad relationships. Knowing that culture starts at the top, I recommend sales and marketing leaders come together often and discuss ways to collaborate. Show up together at cross-staff meetings and “town halls” so that employees see the connections and emulate what great looks like. Attitudes are contagious. – Stacy Sherman, Customer Experience Expert
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4. Not Understanding What The Other Side Does
A common theme I’ve observed when the sales and marketing relationship is weak is that neither side understands what the other does. When this happens, it is frustrating for both teams and limits productivity. I’ve worked to correct this by bridging the gap with sales through regular meetings — I call them pulse checks — to see how marketing can better support sales and vice versa. – Jennifer Best, AAE Speakers
5. Marketing Planning Campaigns Without Sales Input
One clear sign is when marketing is planning campaigns without sales input. It is amazing to me that this still happens. Marketing then launches the campaign and they wonder why sales isn’t involved more. When you have sales involved in the planning, they can be a part of the strategy to execute. They can answer questions like, how do I use this in the sales funnel? But they can do it early. – James Gilbert, CRMNEXT
6. Customers Not Knowing About The Latest Products
One sign is when you find out customers do not know about the newest products. This can fall back on both teams and the lack of communication between the two. One way to correct the lack of communication is by getting as many in a room and having an open dialog about what is going on recently — the struggles the sales team has and what they think the marketing team could provide them to help. – Sarah Lero, Peerless Products Inc
7. Acting Like They’re Pursuing Different Goals
Mutual respect and trust are the foundations of a good relationship. If the teams act like they are pursuing separate goals instead of the same (increasing revenue for the company), that’s a bad sign. The situation can be improved by having an honest conversation, getting some ground rules, and then agreeing to disagree. Proper communication can resolve past and future issues. – Preeti Adhikary
8. Lack Of Sales Results
Corporate directive is paramount to ensure coherent and consistent synergy between sales and marketing for organizational success. Silos can be lethal for the business. In military analogy, sales is the arm that executes the activity on the ground, while marketing leads with air cover, hence one major sign that can be detected instantly is the lack of sales results. – Zeev Draer, Niagara Networks
9. Teams Playing The Blame Game
When finger pointing starts and results go south, go back to the basics. What problem are we trying to solve, and what opportunity are we trying to capture? Sales and marketing must both have the same answer to these key questions, and work on a joint plan together to achieve results. This makes divvying up the work and executing together much easier and more successful. – Sara Larsen, Brightcove
10. Holding Back Data From Each Other
A sign of a bad relationship is when sales and marketing are holding back data from each other. Share weekly reports during an in-person (or video) meeting to provide updates, celebrate wins and discuss areas that need improvement. When one team or individual begins to withhold data, that’s a sign that trust is eroding and intentional alignment needs to be revisited. – Holly Tate, Vanderbloemen Search Group
11. Competition For Funding
The most common yet critical sign is the competition between the two departments for the funding. The sales department wants a higher budget to expand the team and to meet their targets, whereas the marketing department wants a higher budget to finance larger marketing campaigns. However, the budget is usually limited. Set complementary goals and shared revenue targets whenever possible to fix it. – Haseeb Tariq, Universal Music Group (ex Disney, Fox and Guess)
12. Territorialism Among Growing Teams
One sign is territorialism, especially for growing teams. When someone feels threatened, they often get territorial about their work. If you’re moving work around or notice an issue, be willing to discuss it. Bring the groups together and talk through the big picture. Emphasize how important each role is in achieving a common goal. If feelings are hurt, follow up with a private conversation. – Kate Barton, Clearview Advisory
13. Compartmentalizing Ownership Of The Funnel
When marketing and sales teams compartmentalize ownership of the customer funnel, it’s a sign of dysfunction. Marketing is not only responsible for the top of the funnel and neither is Sales solely responsible to close customers. Both teams must work together on building awareness and improving close ratios for the best results. One way to fix this is by creating shared goals across the funnel. – Roshni Wijayasinha, Foxquilt