Why Your Sales and Marketing Teams Don’t Trust One Another

The perennial problem of misalignment between sales and marketing teams is causing more business harm than most business leaders probably realise. Various sources have put the cost of this misalignment as high as ‘$1 trillion dollars a year1’. Yes, $1 TRILLION dollars. That’s across multiple industries and multiple companies but still a huge number nonetheless. So how do you get your sales and marketing teams to trust each other and actually work together for the good of the business overall?

With ‘a whopping 90% of sales and marketing professionals reporting misalignment in terms of strategy, process, culture, and content, and nearly all of them believing this harms the business and its customers2’, let’s look at some reasons why these two very important functions aren’t seeing eye to eye:

 Sales TeamsMarketing Teams
Go to market plan
If the sales team has its own GTM plan which differs from the marketing team, this can lead to a differing ICP (ideal customer profile) and a different TAM (total addressable market) and tension in the long run.
Go to market plan
If the marketing team has a different GTM plan from sales the leads they provide will be exactly what they are supposed to generate but will not be the ones that the sales team are expecting or think they need.
Sales teams usually have pretty aggressive targets, especially in tough economic times. The last thing they want are barriers put up that would slow them down or hinder them from making a sale. If they have to follow arbitrary marketing rules or only use approved messages and formatted or designed templates, they can feel bogged down in marketing bureaucracy
Brand champions
Marketing teams are usually the brand champions and they try to defend the integrity of the brand because multiple studies show that ‘brand maintenance and growth leads to overall business growth3’. They can feel that sales teams don’t take the brand as seriously as they do and may feel that the sales teams are harming the brand by not using the correctly designed or formatted templates.
A lot of the time, sales teams feel that the leads being passed to them from marketing aren’t relevant, haven’t been vetted or aren’t warm enough for them to convert. This leads to a feeling that marketing doesn’t care and only cares about hitting their lead targets.
On the other hand, marketing teams at times can feel like sales teams aren’t prioritising the leads that are passed to them. They feel as if the hard work they have put into generating those leads has been wasted and harbours a feeling of discontent between the teams.
Sales teams feel that the content that is being produced has been created without their input so isn’t relevant to the types of personas they are going after that will lead to the highest chance of success.
Marketing teams feel that the content that they have produced isn’t used by sales teams and all the hard work and effort they have put into creating them has been wasted.

Keeping these reasons in mind, here are a few ways to get sales and marketing teams aligned, because at the end of the day both functions are working towards the same goal; to win new business.

  • Split the functions by brand and lead gen: A radical idea is to define the work of each function where marketing only works on long term brand building and awareness and doesn’t generate any leads. Sales on the other hand is tasked with generating leads (using BDR and SDR teams) and converting them (using dedicated sales people). This way the sales team’s job becomes easier as the brand becomes more well known and conversion becomes more straightforward. Marketing teams are relieved of the lead gen pressure and can concentrate on brand building which will bring about long term growth.
  • Combine the two functions: A bit more of a palatable idea floating around a few companies is to combine the sales and marketing functions in a business. This is becoming a more accepted concept among several industries especially in SaaS where they are combined under the banner of Growth, with one person in the organisation leading both teams, often a Chief Growth Officer. Some businesses are even coining the moniker: ‘Smarkerting’ for the new function2. This ensures that both functions are much more aligned, sharing meetings and even KPIs and goals.
  • Collaboration: An easier idea for most businesses to implement is to promote a full sense of collaboration between sales and marketing by doing some of these things: encourage regular comms between the two teams; preferably have weekly meetings, produce clearly defined combined goals for both teams and have sprint deadlines to work towards.
  • Outsource: If a business needs a more hands off solution, hiring an external sales dev agency can be ideal. The agency will be responsible for generating qualified leads and the sales team at the business can focus on converting those leads into business and the marketing team can work on awareness and brand building.

If an organisation, regardless of size, can implement one or more of these ideas, there are a lot of benefits to be gained. Some of these include:

– Increased speed of strategic changes being implemented2
– More creative problem solving2
– Employee retention2
– Improved awareness and brand recognition
– Overall business growth

Even though sales and marketing team misalignment is an age-old issue that plagues most businesses, if it can be conquered, the benefits can be far reaching and can lead to sales and marketing teams actually liking one another as opposed to being at each other’s throats.




3 The brand: the most valuable business tool ever invented: https://thetomroach.com/2020/11/12/the-most-valuable-business-tool-ever-invented/

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