Sales & Marketing: The “Great Divide”


The buzz around marketing and sales alignment may be recent, but the dynamic has been around for years. As someone who’s been on both sides of the divide, having begun my career in marketing and then shifting to commission-only sales, I can understand the perceived chasm between marketing and sales. I feel the pain.

Six years have passed since the start of the Great Recession. Now’s the time to put the accelerator on revenue generation, and finding ways to unify sales and marketing is a great start.

As a young marketer, our team decided, basically in a vacuum, what tools and events would be best to reach and influence potential customers. We planned trade shows, created multimedia presentations, developed brochures and collateral – and just handed them off to sales.

By all accounts, our marketing team was considered world-class. But not once do I recall ever talking to our sales team to see how they sold or what products would have been valuable to them. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that they didn’t tend to use our materials and preferred to create their own.

Looking back, I don’t know if my next job – which happened to be in sales – was the result of karma. But it definitely was eye opening. I decided to finally figure out just what sales needed. And what I learned, like in any relationship, the key to success is communication.

I began to appreciate the distinct attributes that marketing brought to a potential opportunity and how sales could be more effective. I took advantage of my experience of being on both sides and developed a relationship with the marketing team. I gained a thorough understanding of their goals, the messages and content they were producing, and gathered key intelligence that gave me insight into a lead’s needs and interests.

In return, I provided the marketing team with feedback on the quality of each lead and shared information on which content and services were resonating. Essentially, we were participating in a successful relationship.

All too often, though, marketing and sales aren’t properly aligned. There are lots of valid reasons, but in my opinion, it just boils down to arrogance. And I’m not calling names here. I’ve been guilty too.

The bottom-line, aligning marketing and sales improves business success. And, there’s plenty of data and case studies out there to substantiate the claim (more on that later).

Seven ideas to make your sales and marketing teams more effective.