Three Ways to Build a Bridge Between Marketing and Sales

VengresoVideo Three Ways to Build a Bridge Between Marketing and Sales

Three Ways to Build a Bridge Between Marketing and Sales

Three Ways to Build a Bridge Between Marketing and Sales

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Marketing and Sales Have Not Gotten Along for Decades

After I graduated from college with a degree in marketing, I went straight into a sales position in the software industry. Within seven years I was a regional sales manager in the Northwest (U.S.) with a team of sales professionals covering California, Oregon and Washington.

My sales team and I were often frustrated by the misalignment between the messaging and promotional programs that came from our marketing department. There was a disconnect between the real world experience of the sales team stemming from customer presentations, as well as feedback from customers about what they liked and didn’t like about our software products.

I was located in the headquarters office and became the defacto spokesperson for our 50 person sales team, voicing concerns and ideas to the product marketing managers. They were eager to listen to our suggestions in order to improve sales results.

Eventually, I was asked to take a new role in the company. They created a new position called Director of Field Marketing. My salary was funded 50/50 between marketing and sales. I had two bosses. I reported both to the VP of Sales and the VP of Marketing. On the surface, that might sound nightmarish, but it was wonderful because we built a bridge between marketing and sales. We produced messaging and promotional support that addressed the needs of the outside sales team. Looking back on my corporate career, it was the most rewarding job I ever had!

Lessons Learned

This experience was before the digital age as we know it today. But, as I reflect on it, I see at least three ways any B2B organization can build their own bridge between marketing and sales. 

Take Action

In my story, my employer listened to the feedback we provided from the sales team. Rather than ignore it, they took action. The action they took was bold. They created a new position and took a chance on me in this role. So, perhaps your marketing department needs some sales blood in it? It’s a strong statement to move people from sales into marketing. It sends a strong message about the commitment to bridging any divide between marketing and sales.  

Swap Roles

Role playing is a tactic that can create great empathy. Maybe you know a dad who stayed home with the kids for a week to understand the demands of being a mom. Or, maybe you’ve seen the reality TV show Undercover Boss where the CEO of a mid to large company goes under cover to play the role of a low level employee to understand the inner workings of the company.

Many companies have marketing staff tag along on sales calls and presentations. And, while that’s a good thing, it’s even better if a marketing person accepts a full time assignment in sales for a period of one year or more. The experience gained will be invaluable when she returns to a marketing position.

Similarly, assign sales people into marketing roles for six months to a year so that they gain understanding of the full spectrum of the marketing function ranging from awareness to consideration to action and all the elements of marketing programs that comprise the entire buyer’s journey.

Maximize LinkedIn Together

Bringing this topic full circle to current day circumstances, in most sales organizations much of the sales process occurs over a phone, email and social media. While in person sales calls still occur, the dynamic of them has changed quite a bit since my early days in sales. 

I’d like to see every person in the marketing department connect with every person on the sales team on LinkedIn. Chances are that some or many already are, but chances are it’s not 100% across both departments.

I’d like to see an agreement – sort of like a service level agreement – that commits to each person from both marketing and sales posting status updates not less than once each week and sharing relevant content that feeds into the buyer’s journey. Imagine the power of everyone in marketing and sales sharing relevant content on LinkedIn

I’d like to see what happens when everyone in marketing and sales explores mutual connections. It’s possible to see new introductions made that can result in new business. 

I’d like to see what happens when everyone in marketing and sales explore mutual groups. Rather than everyone belonging to the groups they decide to join, a collaboration will occur by agreeing on the most productive groups both teams should engage in. 

Behavior Change

By creating this behavior change in a B2B organization the marketing and sales people will experience two things at a minimum.

1. A better understanding of each other’s roles, which will lead to more productive collaboration and better business outcomes.

2. A more genuine human connection between the two groups that will strengthen bonds between them. This will result in an understanding that, rather than being adversarial, they’re actually on the same team with the same goals. That understanding can inspire a greater commitment and ability to getting things done together.

Feature Image Credit: Dave Lastovskiy on Unsplash

Bernie Borges

Bernie Borges is CMO of Vengreso, the leader in digital sales transformation. He's also Host of the award winning Modern Marketing Engine podcast. His book Marketing 2.0, was an early playbook in social media strategy. Bernie is also a trainer and speaker. He has a passion for guiding clients in aligning marketing and sales for accelerated revenue results. Bernie enjoys kayaking with his family in Tampa Bay, going to hockey games and you'll find him at the gym at 6am Monday through Friday, rain or shine.

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