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This article was published on November 15, 2014

7 secrets that sales and marketing colleagues should know about each other

7 secrets that sales and marketing colleagues should know about each other
Doug Camplejohn
Story by

Doug Camplejohn

Doug Camplejohn is the CEO and Founder of Fliptop, a leader in Predictive Analytics applications for B2B companies. Before Fliptop, Doug f Doug Camplejohn is the CEO and Founder of Fliptop, a leader in Predictive Analytics applications for B2B companies. Before Fliptop, Doug founded two companies, Mi5 Networks and Myplay, and also held senior roles at Apple, Epiphany and Vontu.

Doug Camplejohn is the CEO and Founder of Fliptop, a leader in Predictive Analytics applications for B2B companies.

Everybody’s got secrets. Some, like bizarre hair growth or a deep-seated love of tween pop, are perhaps best kept that way, while others can be a powerful tool for good. This is certainly the case with sales and marketing teams, where better understanding can lead to better results.

Alignment between sales and marketing is a significant problem for many businesses. Despite having similar goals, a gap exists between the two departments, and this negatively impacts the efforts of both.

Bridging this gap is critical. B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve 24 percent faster three-year revenue growth, and 27 percent faster three-year profit growth, according to SAP.

Here are seven secrets every marketers should know about their colleagues, which can lead to higher efficiency, improved ROI and better communication (and morale) overall.

1. Strength by observation

The best performing members of the sales team might think they know what makes them good at their job, but the more likely answer is that they don’t. You can’t trust high performers to describe their skills because they are largely intuitive.

This means that asking them to pass on their wisdom may not be effective, because they will skip over important bits that seem obvious to them, but are not to others.

Rather than try to force answers, marketers should learn by watching and listening. It is easier to learn from observation than from interrogation.

2. Selling is a deeply personal experience

If a salesperson makes a promise to a prospect, they don’t want to be put in a position where they can’t keep it. If for whatever reason – budget, schedule, strategy – they have to backtrack on a promise, that salesperson will not forgive the person who made them break a promise to a potential sale.

No marketing chief should make this mistake with salespeople and expect it to blow over. Set expectations you can meet, and then meet them.

3. Nobody likes a compromise

Compromising in marketing might seem like a good idea for the sanity of the team, but your colleagues do not want to compromise. They’d rather succeed or fail with one extreme than meet somewhere in the middle. Chances are the average of idea A and idea B will not be better than choosing one or the other.

arketing leaders should make a clear call and stick to their guns. The respect will follow.

4. Sales teams lie and get lied to! And it’s useful

Sales teams lie. This is a reality, and it’s not a bad thing.

Whether it’s because they don’t know their product well enough, they’ve been trained to be too empathetic, or they’re only focused on a performance-related bonus, the sales department’s dirty little secret is that their day is awash with lies. These lies may be to colleagues or emerge from the evasive tactics of prospects, but they are something every marketer should be aware of.

It’s your organization’s responsibility to create a culture of honest communication. It is much easier to get repeat business than it is to land new accounts. Focus on the long term.

5. Great marketers are really architects

This is an old observation from Seth Godin and wonderfully relevant. Taking an existing business and maximizing it is a job for a direct marketer, or an advertiser. But the marketers worth hanging onto are the ones who see themselves as architects.

What does an architect do? “She reinvents the very nature of what’s delivered and how it is delivered. She reimagines the inputs and outputs of the organization, as well as its story, to create an engine of revenue that grows while benefiting all sides.”

Understanding this idea can shape how marketing teams approach their work, make hires, and view their role within the organization.

6. The sales team doesn’t want you to walk away

The modern sales and marketing process is about collaboration. Marketing generates leads for sales, who work to convert them into clients. The key to a successful relationship is avoiding a situation where sales teams feel their leads are weak, and marketing teams feel under-appreciated. This creates frustration, and wastes time and money.

It is the start of a downward spiral that can be hard to remedy. Typically over 50 percent of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting. Lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budget cost companies at least $1 trillion a year.

With leads, it is quality not quantity that matters.  Rather than sending over a whole bunch of leads and walking away, marketers should work with sales to create a single definition for what constitutes a qualified lead.

Both sales and marketing teams should be invested in creating a high-quality pipeline.

7. Sales teams are focused on next quarter

Sales teams are focused on hitting their quarterly numbers, and they will work toward those targets with or without help from marketing. This means that they want as many leads as possible at the beginning of the quarter, but towards the end, they’re only focused on the leads that are likely to close.

With this in mind, marketers should consider keeping some of the best leads in reserve for the end of the month, when sales teams are closing in on their targets. You could end up being their most valuable player.

It can be easy to get swept up in inter-departmental divisions or rivalry, but a little empathy goes a long way. Everybody benefits when sales and marketing teams understand each other. Understanding leads to better communication and collaboration, which leads to higher conversion rates and more sales.

Ultimately, sales and marketing teams have the same goals, and these seven little secrets can make it easier to work towards them together. The fact that you slept with a blankie until you were 25? That you can keep to yourself.

Read next: Steal your competitor’s customers with highly effective comparison pages


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