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Putting the “We” Back in “Team” for Sales and Marketing

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management

There’s a classic beer commercial featuring a self-centered football player, pouting to a TV reporter in an interview after a particularly devastating loss. The player, unable to see past his own shortcomings, tells the reporter that he puts the loss “squarely on the shoulders of his teammates.”

Nonplussed, the reporter conducts the remainder of the interview and reminds our flawless player that “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team,'” to which the player quips, “Yeah, well, there ain’t no ‘we,’ either.”

Often, in the world of sales and marketing, even the most seasoned professionals fall victim to the “there ain’t no ‘we,’ either” sentiment. It’s “us against them,” where “them” is the side of the fence that we’re not on.

It used to be that sales and marketing teams fought over leads — quantity, quality, and/or lack thereof. But marketers’ relatively newfound ability to measure the effectiveness of leads based on conversion rates and revenue has largely squelched that argument. Having objective and accurate analytics takes the emotion out of the argument, time and again.

Today, it seems the big source of disagreement is around the content that marketers produce for sales reps.

What’s Going On?

Speaking in broad strokes, sales never has enough of the right content for their selling situation. It’s widely known that 65% of content generated for sales is not used by sales (28% cannot be found and 37% is not relevant). Often, it’s a mix of reasons: “wrong” vertical, wrong language, wrong product line, wrong points for this particular customer, not deep enough, or too deep. Of course, the market is changing fast and they need to keep up with the shifting landscape. The point is that sales is using only a fraction of what is produced and is screaming for more of the right stuff.

Conversely, marketing teams often feel they are on a hamster wheel of content development. They produce the best and highest quality material they can, and yet sales can never be sated. They can feel undervalued and unappreciated, which doesn’t bode well for quality sales enablement materials.

And because there is no ability to measure what content sales is using, what content they need, its impact on sales conversions and revenue, the argument remains unwinnable — it’s back to “us against them.”

For two professions so highly dependent on each other for success, our relationships are often fundamentally fractured. This is almost universal. So much so that I’m willing to bet it’s going on in your organization.

There is a strong argument in favor of aligning sales and marketing, and not just from a feel-good human resources standpoint. Aligned sales and marketing teams provide significantly better revenue results with reduced churn. Consider these stats:

  • 72% of best-in-class companies (top 20%) provide their sellers with a dynamic library of marketing and sales assets.
  • Highly aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth, while less well-aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue, according to Aberdeen.
  • Cross-functional alignment among sales, marketing, and product organizations can help companies achieve up to 15% higher profitability.
  • Companies that establish shared marketing and sales responsibilities see clear improvements in their lead acquisition costs. In fact, the average cost per lead for marketers with a formal sales agreement is $24, versus $49 for those without.

That’s just a small sampling of the evidence that points to improved revenue when sales and marketing work with each other instead of against each other.

I won’t lie and say that these fractured relationships can be fixed overnight. They can’t. But they can be fixed. And it’s well worth the effort because the cost of doing nothing is simply too high.

In next week’s post, I’ll bring you some practical ideas to begin the process of putting the “we” in “team” for sales and marketing. In the meantime, if you’’ like to read more on this topic, here is a good article from TechTarget that is worth checking out.