B2B Smarketing: Four reasons marketing and sales hate each other

marketing tech, b2b

Marketing hates sales, sales hates marketing. It’s an all too common trope we hear over and over again in this business. Marketing claims it’s creating tons of great leads, but sales never follows up on them; sales claims the leads it gets from marketing aren’t good enough and a waste of time. Sometimes, it seems like that there’s no hope for these best frenemies ever finding common ground.

To find a solution, you need to look at the core of the issue: Why is it that these two organizations, often with very complementary responsibilities, notoriously have trouble working together? Why can’t we all just get along?

Here are four reasons why the relationship between your marketing and sales team may be best described as “it’s complicated”:

  • Centralized vs. decentralized structure: Think of a typical medium or large sized company. You usually have a corporate marketing team, a centralized resource that provides support across the organization, and field sales teams, divvied up by territories, verticals or other focus areas. While marketing is tasked with putting messages into the market that support the overall organization’s goals, each sales team has its own specific priorities and tailored messages targeting its audiences. Marketers tend to think broad, while sales may think very specific.
  • Proactive vs. reactive timing: As marketers, we tend to plan and think in terms of longer term campaigns that span weeks or months, and can be very proactive about what themes we want to get ahead of across a year. Sales teams tend to think more practically about what’s in front of them in the short term and what they need to close deals. As a result, sales might make a request for last minute materials or collateral that’s targeted for a specific prospect; marketing may respond negatively since it would only work for a one-time use.
  • Creative vs. effective approaches: Marketers are known to be the creative types, right? But sometimes our great, fun ideas can come at the expense of the most effective ones. Effective is what sales does best: They want to close deals, yesterday, and their efforts will be focused on practical approaches to getting that done.
  • Misaligned goals: Sales and marketing teams can work together effectively even if the previous three reasons are true. But if goals aren’t aligned across teams, you won’t see success. If marketing is measured on marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or maybe even something earlier in the funnel, like traffic and open rates, they are not held accountable for what happens after leads go through to sales. While it’s true that marketing cannot control for everything that happens in the sales process, without somehow tracking goals back to what matters to the business — like closed deals and revenue — marketing won’t be incented to ensure that what it’s doing is actually creating customers. And it shouldn’t be one-sided: If sales is incentivized with commission for deals closed, marketing can be incentivized similarly, with bonuses tied to marketing-influenced revenue. Regardless of the specifics, to really get at the heart of untangling the marketing/sales issue, aligning on goals is a must.

What does your organization do to better align marketing and sales teams? What common goals are you setting for them? Tell us on Twitter @CorporateInk.