How to Bridge the Gap Between Sales & Marketing

How to Bridge the Gap Between Sales & Marketing

In the early days of my marketing career, I saw the sales team as the enemy. I started out working in a call center, a real boiler room atmosphere where the reps worshipped Gordon Gekko, and their favorite movie was Glengarry Glen Ross. 

They were seasoned reps, who saw me, the young marketing kid, too inexperienced to know a good lead if it slapped me in the face. 

I was a 20 something kid who had been blogging since 1998 and creating websites on Geocities since the mid-90s. 

It was 2005, and I thought I had earned my spot at the big table, even though by any measure, I was a junior marketer at best. 

I was arrogant, and they were right. I didn’t know anything about lead generation or what it meant to capture a high-quality lead.

In those days, my definition of a good lead was capturing a first name, last name, and a phone number. You call the lead; you close the lead. That was how I saw it. 

My job was to get numbers for you to call, and it was your job to close them. It did not matter whether or not they needed what you were selling. 

“Close the leads I give you.” or quote the sales team’s favorite movie, “You can’t close the leads you’re given, you can’t close sh*t.”

The marketing team was not strategic; we weren’t even putting in the work to get leads. We partnered with vendors who handled the marketing. 

I arrived early every morning to an email with 100 leads to distribute. I would download, print, and assign the leads by writing the reps name on the paper lead in the top left corner. I would then drop the leads on the sales rep desk and go about my day. 

As leads were called, I would receive feedback from the reps, often receiving the paper lead back with chicken scratch notes telling me what I did wrong. 

“They thought they were signing up for a free car”.

“Nobody by this name is at this number”.

“This person’s first name says ‘Big Bird'”. 

The reps were right. The leads were sh*t. But more than anything else, our communication was broken. 

The marketing team and sales team looked at each other as enemies. We were not aligned on our goals, and we were not having real conversations about what we can do to improve. 

It was a different time. I was a different marketer. 

Fast forward, 15 years, and I see things completely different. Sales are not the enemy. We both need one another to be successful. 

As I have developed in my career and become much more humble, I have seen the direct impact a unified team can have on the overall performance of both the marketing and sales teams. 

Working towards a more unified and aligned marketing and sales team means that marketing leaders need to take an in-depth look at processes, goals, and strategies to find the best way to align these two teams. 

It’s no easy task, but avoiding it and working in a silo will only cause friction and limit both teams’ potential to thrive and reach their goals. 

“Thinking of marketing and sales as two parts of a healthy, communicative relationship leads to a more effective means of problem-solving”.

Anna Talerico

Common Challenges Teams Face when Not Aligned

Marketing and Sales teams who are not aligned, often face challenges that can impact not only the teams but also the business.

Without communication, marketing teams may not have a clear understanding of what the sales team hears from prospects, which can impact the messaging that marketing uses when promoting the company’s core product. 

When marketing and sales teams have goals that are misaligned, each team can feel like their goals are not achievable and become unmotivated. 

Another challenge that is often faced when marketing and sales are not aligned is no team being held accountable for specific goals. 

Looking back at the early days of my marketing career, rarely did I see a marketing team take responsibility when sales complained about the quality of leads. 

Instead, marketing would often turn the blame on sales, saying that they were not following up or effectively working the leads given. 

How Content Can Help Sales and Marketing Find Alignment

Sales enablement strategies can be traced back to 1999, when a Brand Manager at Miller Brewing Company noticed several flaws in the sales operations and brand messaging.

Nowadays, most organizations aim to streamline their sales process using content, software, and collaboration tools. 

Writing content for the ideal customer profile is an essential part of sales enablement

Content that is often the most helpful for a sales team include:

  • case studies; 
  • informative blog posts;
  • customer testimonials;
  • interactive content (calculators, solution finders, etc.);
  • email campaigns.

Case studies 

Case studies that show how an existing customer benefited from your product or service can positively impact the conversations sales have with your target audience. 

Demonstrating the challenges existing customers face and how your solution helped solve them will show the value your business offers, making prospects feel more confident committing to a partnership. 

Blog posts

Long-form, informative blog posts are often used to educate prospects and help them identify the challenges they have and how a product like yours will help them solve it. 

Sales and marketing teams should collaborate on topics for blog posts so that what is written on the blog resonates with the audience and educates prospects on how to solve their challenges. 

Getting to the root of a prospect’s challenge is a necessary part of discovery, often managed by the sales team during those first calls. Many sales teams face challenges getting the right information out of prospects and aligning those challenges with the solutions offered. 

Interactive content

Interactive content, such as assessments, are a great solution as they put the customer in control of sharing their information rather than the sales rep. 

Another type of interactive content that is impactful for this stage of the buying cycle are calculators, especially those focusing on displaying the potential return on investment

Made with Ion

The data captured from an interactive assessment or calculator is not just valuable to the sales team. 

As marketers, we can use this information to create a content calendar that directly addresses customer needs. 

Interactive content can help marketers identify trends based on their audience’s inputs and tailor the messaging and content based on the learnings, which will also be a win for sales. More content that addresses customer demands means a shorter buying cycle. 

By aligning your sales and marketing teams, you will help both teams achieve their goals and positively impact the organization.  

I recently sat down with Anna Talerico, an experienced SaaS sales leader and a co-founder of Ion Interactive, to discuss some of the ways she has aligned sales and marketing using content. 

Check out the conversation here!

Got an idea for a great piece of content that will help bridge the gap between your sales and marketing teams? 

Rock Content offers a full suite of content production, creation, management tools, and expert strategists to help you go from ideation to launch. Let’s talk

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