How to End the Dysfunction between Sales and Marketing

By Jeff Davis, Author, International Keynote Speaker, and Business Consultant

As leaders start the 2020 planning process, there’s one topic that should definitely be part of the conversation – sales and marketing alignment.

Year after year, leaders in sales and marketing continue their dysfunctional relationship hiding behind the protection of their silos. Sales complains that marketing leads are terrible; marketing complains that sales never follows up on all the leads they’ve provided.

Sales Teams Continue to Miss Quotas
With sales rep quota attainment dropping year after year, according to CSO Insights, sales leaders and marketing leaders can no longer afford to continue working together in this way.

In fact, from 2014 to 2018, B2B sales rep quota attainment has dropped steadily – from 63 percent to 54.3 percent. These numbers show us that focusing just on increasing the volume of leads or deals in the pipeline isn’t working. We need to shift our focus to increasing sales efficiency and effectiveness.

Today, the average sales rep deals with a significant amount of information inequality because most modern buyers come to the sales conversation armed with a significant amount of information from a myriad of digital sources about the company, the product, competitors – even sales reps themselves. (A simple LinkedIn search, for example, offers buyers a lot of information about sales reps.)

Think of how the car buying process has been completely disrupted. Over a decade ago, buyers showed up on a car sales lot with very little information and depended on the car salesperson to guide them to what they should purchase.

Now, however, buyers are armed with masses of information, reviews, and comparison charts. They know, almost down to the model, what they want and what they are willing to pay for it. (This assumes you even choose to go to a physical sales lot rather than purchasing the car online!)

Focus on Improving the Buying Experience
Sales leaders can no longer follow the traditional linear, stepwise sales process and expect success. Buyers now come in and out of the different phases of the buying cycle, and most buying decisions are now consensus driven.

In addition, due to the increasingly easy B2C buying experiences to which we all have become accustomed to outside of work, the modern B2B buyer demands a buying experience that removes as much unnecessary friction as possible.

Companies like Amazon, Netflix, Zappos, and more have caused the buyer to be extremely resistant to buying experiences that are overly (and arbitrarily) cumbersome and don’t provide them with personalized information on how making the buying decision will resolve the pain they are experiencing.

All these new demands from the modern buyer have made it increasingly difficult for sales or marketing to achieve success working alone in a silo. These two teams need each other more than ever.

If sales leaders want to set up their team for success in 2020 and beyond, they need to find a better way to work with marketing so they can influence getting their sales reps into the right conversations with high-potential target buyers.

How Sales and Marketing Leaders Benefit Each Other
Sales leaders, don’t yell at marketing about not doing their job, and don’t just give up and ignore them. Instead, ask the marketing leader specifically for whatever your sales reps need to be successful.

That means sales leaders must understand how the marketing team can help sales hit revenue goals. Then, the sales leader can more effectively get the support his or her team needs to truly engage the modern buyer in a better way.

Top benefits marketing leaders can provide sales leaders in hitting their revenue targets:

  • Support in targeting the best types of accounts and opportunities.
  • Increase brand awareness with the right types of accounts.
  • Provide educational events that bring together customers and target buyers to learn and share experiences.
  • Create tools that help sales present their solution to target buyers in a way that clearly demonstrates the value it provides and is in the buyer’s language.
  • Position reps as trusted advisors by giving them information on macro-level trends.

Empowered with this type of information, the sales leader can now have a more productive conversation with the marketing leader instead of finger pointing.  Informed conversations will increase alignment between sales and marketing and, ultimately, help them both accelerate revenue growth in the new B2B economy.

The above is adapted from the new book Create Togetherness by Jeff Davis. It is a strategic roadmap for B2B revenue leaders to align sales and marketing to accelerate revenue growth. 

Jeff Davis is an author, international keynote speaker, and business consultant. He helps mid-sized B2B companies strategically align their sales and marketing teams to accelerate revenue growth.