Ten Reasons Why Sales and Marketing Aren't Communicating

Ten Reasons Why Sales and Marketing Aren't Communicating

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    Your company’s success hinges on transparent communication and clutter-free collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. But, sometimes logjams and snarls prevent these two crucial teams from effectively cooperating for the benefit of the company. This blog looks at why this happens, and what can be done to prevent it.

    Ten Reasons Why Sales and Marketing Aren't Communicating

    Marketing teams create the leads that are the lifeblood of any sales team worth their salt. But sometimes dissonance in the form of a pecking order pops up – which team considers itself more important and which team is supposedly slacking on the job. Bad leads are blamed for the lack of closed sales. But this kind of toxic misalignment can lead to an endlessly closed loop of counter-intuitive victim blaming – to the detriment of the company’s revenue.

    Covered in this article:

    Problem One: Different Goals And Metrics
    Problem Two: Siloed Organisational Structures
    Problem Three: Lack Of Collaboration Tools
    Problem Four: Differing Views On Customer Engagement
    Problem Five: Inadequate Communication Channels
    Problem Six: Cultural Differences
    Problem Seven: Limited Understanding Of Each Team’s Responsibilities
    Problem Eight: Insufficient Training
    Problem Nine: Lack Of Trust And Cooperation
    Problem Ten: Conflicting Incentives

    Here are 10 reasons why your sales and marketing teams are not on the same page:

    Problem One: Different Goals And Metrics

    Sales and marketing are traditionally viewed as separate actions. Marketing efforts underpin the top-of-mind awareness of a company’s products and services – sales drive that brand positioning to consumers to generate sales. Scoring sales and marketing with different metrics and different goals leads to imbalanced disharmony. Sales teams laser focus on quotas; marketing teams focus on shining a positive light on the brand. But these focuses are not mutually exclusive.

    Solution: Forging Overlapping Goals And Metrics

    Both teams need to grasp the through-line of generating brand awareness, nurturing warm leads and closing business prospects. Combine marketing and sales activities towards a mutual business end goal, for example, customer retention and acquisition. Measuring the impact of conversion rates and lead value can be tracked by similar performance metrics as well.

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    Problem Two: Siloed Organisational Structures

    The disconnect between marketing and sales teams limits the potential for both to contribute to ROI and the company’s bottom line. Siloed and conflicting strategies, standards and structures mean your teams are not communicating and aren’t on the same selling point page. When marketing and sales disagree about the optimal course of action to grow the business, the results are pipeline gaps, stagnation, bottlenecks, dud campaigns and dissatisfied customers.

    Solution: Creating Inter-Departmental Spanning Teams

    Formulating cross-functional teams to address problems impacting multiple departments break down silos. Departmental management teams, equipped to deliver unique perspectives to isolate and solve silo-driven issues, foster best practice examples of cooperation, collaboration and teamwork to bust isolated departments and break down silos. Job shadowing across departments, like marketing team members shadowing sales calls, also increases alignment.

    One way to help break down silos is to put together cross-functional teams to solve issues that impact multiple departments. These teams — typically comprised of departmental management — can offer different perspectives to better identify, diagnose, and ultimately solve company issues. Using collaborative tools like CRM platforms to clear up lines of communication, and encourage inter-department socialising goes a long way to dismantling the social barriers that inhibit business success.

    Problem Three: Lack Of Collaboration Tools

    The lack of collaboration tools between sales and marketing teams is hazardous to any business, and the absence of best-of-breed collaboration tools which automate back-office processes for sales and marketing self-services may result in overwhelmed teams, especially when there is no central strategy around the collective asks of these sales and marketing teams.

    But even when collaboration tools are used, companies don’t necessarily achieve their desired outcomes. This may be a result of a clash of different tools and technologies, confused employees, or reluctant buy-in from marketing and sales teams as a result of insufficient training. Forcing collaboration on employees may result in pushback as a result of, say, constant real-time notifications, instead of customised periodic notifications.

    Solution: Choosing The Right Collaboration Tools

    Online whiteboards enable remote collaboration in real-time between marketing and sales teams, using mind maps and video conferencing for inter-team chatting and brainstorming. Project management tools are ground zero for collaborative work between marketing and sales, ideal for project collaboration, assigning tasks, tracking progress and bolstered by reporting features, as well as messaging and file sharing.

    Shared calendars keep team members current, allowing the scheduling of tasks and deadlines, while instant messaging tools allow the designation of different channels for different teams, keeping marketing and sales teams on the same page. Cloud storage and file-sharing tools are the mainstays of collaborative software, securely backing up files and storing them remotely, and enabling editing and collaborating on documents in real-time. Enterprise Collaboration Social Networks facilitate crowdsourcing, synchronous and asynchronous communication, and integration with business tools.


    Problem Four: Differing Views On Customer Engagement

    Sales teams seek to continue communication with customers from first contact to post-sales follow-ups, increasing customer lifetime value, in a conversational two-way strategy. Marketers are more in tune with research and super-niching targeted emails, personalised offers and social media adverts, in a one-way communication style.

    Marketers are interested in creating marketing content which aligns with the customer’s journey, and sales teams are focused on transforming potential leads and prospects into customers by establishing trust and relationships. But marketers may not always supply content that sales teams can use to overcome every obstacle in the buyer’s journey to closing the sale. Marketing content tends to be product-centric, while sales focus on buyer-centric content which speaks to values aligned with customer persona needs.

    The Solutions?

    Frequent meetings between sales and marketing teams to establish what’s working, allowing salespeople to give feedback to the marketing team. Sales analytics tools, integrated with marketing automation software, show what marketing content sales teams are using the most and the least of, allowing for tweaking and adjustment for maximum personalisation.

    Marketers stand to benefit from understanding major buyer objections, how sales teams use marketing content to overcome them, the different stages in the buying process of the sales team, as well as the sales process targeted to each buyer persona. Marketers may control the message, but they are informed by salespeople’s insight into evolving customer needs and pain points.

    Problem Five: Inadequate Communication Channels

    Inadequate communication channels between sales and marketing teams have serious dire consequences on the customer experience, as well as hampered employee productivity, trust and collaboration. Issues may comprise email overload, stymied cross-functional collaboration, misinformation, and difficult change management.

    The workplace communication ecosystem has become more complex as team leaders struggle to choose the best channel to reach team members at the right time with the correct content, as big-ticket company announcements are disregarded or ignored, for example. Adding extra communication channels may result in the broken telephone effect, increasing miscommunication, info loss and noise.

    The Solution: Choosing A Single/Duo Best-Case Communication Channel/s

    The options, though numerous, should be broken down into single or dual channels. These may comprise intranet (previously popular but outdated); emails (challenging to prioritise importance and relevance), project management tools (easy to assign actionable tasks but not suitable as a primary channel), employee newsletters (striking an engaging informal tone but mass communication-based and reliant on email) and private messaging software (enabling of private discussions but not orientated toward specific content nor company-wide communication).

    Other options include document sharing software (easy storage of documents but less easy sharing and accessing docs with the right team members); video conferencing (the personalised connection between remote employees but not suitable for entire companies); internal podcasts (successful storytelling medium albeit one-way); internal company blogs (easy content generation but no guarantee of value adoption) and employee survey solutions (great for gathering feedback and data but one-way communication).

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    Problem Six: Cultural Differences

    Multi-cultural and diverse workplaces present benefits and challenges as marketing and sales teams may initially struggle to find common ground. Employees’ cultural backstories impact their work behaviour and methodologies. Cultural differences may be the result of generational differences, for example, Baby Boomers seeking out long-term careerism, while Millennials prioritise work-life balance and career opportunities.

    Ethnicity may impact communication styles (direct, indirect), while religion may influence what is considered “ethical” behaviour, and different education levels influence cultural capital and experience. Dress code (age and formality), feedback (degrees of vocal criticism), and team or individual orientation also come into play. In addition, sales may attract outgoing, relationship-orientated personalities while marketing may attract introverted, methodical personalities.

    Solution: Establishing A Culturally Affirming And Supportive Workplace

    Under-represented groups may feel more “seen” if there is a culture of educating others about respectful interaction with them. Encouraging the understanding of cultural norms and accommodating them with diversity training, and allowing the celebration of cultural holidays equally, goes a long way in creating an inclusive and respectful work environment.

    Problem Seven: Limited Understanding Of Each Team’s Responsibilities

    Sales functions are concerned with short-term target quotas − functions and actions of selling goods and services to reach targets, focused on customers and relationships. Marketing focuses on long-term brand reputational functions − concerned with targeting customers with the best channel with which to communicate with them, concentrated more on products. Two singular processes, with specific mind and skillsets, and some overlap in the sales funnel.

    Many tasks fall under both sales and marketing umbrellas (lead follow-up and strategising, for example). But often, the two teams have a limited understanding of what the other team does, resulting in intrafunctional conflict and revenue loss, as well as redundancies or worse, tasks overlooked by both teams: “It’s not my job!”

    Solution: Defining The Roles Of Each Department

    To prevent misunderstanding of responsibilities and role confusion, it is vital to redefine roles, outline expectations of the roles, clarify which key performance indicators will be measured, and define to who each individual team member is answerable to. Cross-training team members to develop an understanding of what the other team does cannot be underestimated.


    Problem Eight: Insufficient Training

    Sales training suffers a bad reputation as sales teams may not engage with or retain what they’ve learned, or resent attending the training process in the first place. Another issue is sales staff feeling justified in taking calls during training as they have calls, deals and commissions to attend to.


    Provide relevant and value-added training to sales staff which bolsters critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. Deliver a blend of training methods and materials to address all the angles, and follow up videos, slideshows and training materials with assessments to determine learning uptake. Boost uptake with interactive training elements, while continuous micro-training in the form of bite-size learning helps sales staff avoid feeling overwhelmed. Learning platforms and on-demand online training prevents scheduling conflicts.

    Likewise, marketers need to be on top of the latest trends and channels to communicate their messages most effectively. But keeping abreast of evolving technologies, concepts and tools may lead to work saturation, burnout and even resentment as downtime is spent on continuous learning. Algorithms change constantly, software updates rapidly, and trends are replaced daily.

    Solutions include the assessment of the marketing team member’s marketing strengths, weaknesses and expertise levels; creating a learning culture with the adequate provision of time and tools to polish their skills; and making time during working hours for training with an external professional to formalise the training process with boot camps, for example. Updating and customising training content makes for relevance and engagement with the use of a marketing resource and publication library as one training source.

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    Problem Nine: Lack Of Trust And Cooperation

    Competition and mistrust between sales and marketing teams result from a variety of reasons. Both teams wanting more budget – marketing to launch new campaigns, sales for more tools – within a limited budget allocation, creates animosity and resentment.

    Sales may feel marketing is failing to generate sufficient quality leads, and marketing may feel that sales aren’t working leads sufficiently. Sales teams may perceive marketing teams as having a superiority complex and believe marketers drive the sales, not the salespeople. There may be an accountability gap between sales (measurable and quantifiable) versus marketing (less measurable KPIs– website hits, door swings, say).

    Marketers may feel that sales don’t respect their efforts and support, while sales may have the belief that marketing is disposable. Marketers may feel sellers take all the credit. A toxic work environment can result in stress, anxiety, decreased productivity and a hurt bottom line.

    Solution: Define, Align And Integrate

    Clearing the lines of communication and using a data-driven process to hold both teams to account is key. Defining important sales funnel stages and clearing a performance outline for the teams’ activities prevents discord and rivalry. Each team stays in their lane when its relationship is defined, allowing them to create a mutually beneficial lexicon when problems arise.

    Aligning sales and marketing helps create clear but flexible boundaries, with shared structures, systems, metrics and rewards benefiting transactional relationships and sales. Integration clears the path for strategic upstream and downstream groups to enable shared metrics and flexible budgeting.

    Problem Ten: Conflicting Incentives

    Unaligned and conflicting incentives for sales and marketing teams range from the micro level, for example choosing which products to focus on selling – sales teams may want to plug products with lower margins that fulfil quota metrics, but marketing teams may push them to sell products with higher profit margins and more favourable futures. On the macro level, sales teams hinge on selling products and closing sales, and it’s easy to determine success. But marketers are devoted and incentivised to develop nuanced programmes and marketing drives to attract leads, and it takes more time to determine whether their efforts create long-term competitive advantage for the company.

    Solution: Align sales and marketing incentives by ensuring goals and metrics are shared

    With planning common incentives and metrics comes the task of mapping iterative steps each team should take to close the gap between where they are now and where they should be. For example, determining monthly achievements to arrive at a yearly incentive. Interdepartmental cooperation may be encouraged by taking advantage of the natural competition between the two teams – for instance, offering a reward to the sales team member or region that makes the best use of marketing efforts.

    With the introduction of a new product or feature, a spurt incentive programme works wonders in growing revenue (sales) and the value and amount of new customers (marketing), keeping both teams’ heads in the game.

    When rolling out a new product or feature, a good idea is to plan a spurt incentive program that focuses on growth in revenue (sales) as well as the number and value of new clients (marketing). This can keep both teams in the game. Creating a “marketer/salesperson of the month” with Special Performance Incentive Fund rewards offers professional and financial value. Peer-to-peer recognition for exceptional work is a form of shadow incentivising and recognition for assistance in the other team’s success.

    The Benefits Of Effective Communication Between Sales And Marketing Teams

    Successful companies thrive on clear communication between sales and marketing teams. The benefits include but are not limited to better leads, improved sales materials, staying ahead of the competition, bolstered interdepartmental feedback and goal achievement, and of course, increased revenue production. Taking proactive action to nip any conflicts in the bud creates a culture of collaboration which will ensure companies blossom into their true potential.

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