I have worked on retainer in the marketing departments of a few larger companies. I am usually brought on for a special project, or to ease the crunch of a new product release. On one of these occasions, there were no cubicles available in the marketing area, so I got assigned one a little further out, near the sales team.
Now, if you are reading this blog, you probably understand that sales and marketing are not the same thing, and are many times not even in the same building. But you may not realize that sometimes they might as well be on different planets.
What planet are you from?
As a marketer, of course I have marketing’s perspective on sales. It goes something like this:
- “We create and maintain a full library of collateral but sales claims they can’t find what they need when they need it and so they never end up using any of it.”
- “We spend a great deal of time crafting messaging and value propositions that the sales team seems to completely ignore.”
- “It doesn’t matter what we put out in the product collateral, because sales will just go out and promise the customer whatever they want.”
- “We put a lot of effort into lead gen strategies, but the sales team doesn’t seem to know how to handle warm prospects differently from cold ones.”
What I was blissfully unaware of, until the cubicle incident, was sales’ take on marketing:
- “Marketing churns out reams of crap that they expect us to use, but there is too much to dig through, so I don’t bother.”
- “All the ‘marketing speak’ turns off prospects and doesn’t relate to how I sell our products.”
- “Marketing is totally out of touch with what the customer really wants and so I end up having to talk fast to close deals.”
- “Marketing exists to give us leads. So why don’t they just go out and buy some more cold call lists?”
One tiny step for marketing…
I am not going to pretend to offer a simple solution to this complex problem. What I am going to suggest is a simple first step you can take to start bridging the communication gap. Early on in the collateral development process, tap a member of the sales team as a reviewer. Invite them to the kick-off meeting, and give them a chance to talk about what they have seen and heard in the trenches. Let them know that their input is invaluable to creating marketing materials they can feel confident about using in the field.
You may be totally surprised by their input and feedback, and it may take you out of your comfort zone (the sales guys I know don’t mince words or pull punches). But your marketing messages will be stronger and the sales team will be more likely to reach for them – after all, they helped write them.
Do you have any disconnects you’d like to share, or any tactics for bridging departmental gaps? Let us know in the comments.