Teamwork is powerful. Every business wants their employees to collaborate and inspire each other to do better. Strong teamwork means better odds of accomplishing goals on deadline and keeping an edge over competitors.
So why does collaboration get so convoluted in so many workplaces?
Many of us have had the experience of working in companies where people from different departments resent and compete with one another, and seem to be working toward opposing goals. Too often in these cases the friction is happening between sales and marketing teams.
This kind of misalignment can have big repercussions. Don’t leave it to chance. True sales and marketing alignment takes a conscious effort, starting with good leadership and a wholesale transformation of workplace culture.
The Consequences of Misalignment
Your marketing and sales departments shouldn’t feel like their missions are super unique or distinct from one another.
Each of these departments are customer-facing and revenue-driven. Each plays a critical role in the customer’s experience with your product. And the end result of their success is the same: more customers, more accounts, and ultimately more revenue.
When each department focuses on their own mission at the expense of the others, you’ll probably start to hear some of the following complaints:
- The sales team isn’t working hard enough to close the leads we’re sending them.
- We’re getting poor quality leads from the marketing team.
- The sales team expects us to do all the work while they collect commission.
- I can’t seem to get the marketing team interested in helping us meet our goals.
At best, the feelings of resentment behind these complaints diminish productivity and morale. At worst, they can fester and create a toxic work environment, leading to higher employee turnover, serious errors, and more.
The problems caused by misalignment aren’t just internal. When departments don’t have the same vision and goals, it creates an inconsistent experience for customers. They may receive mixed messages from each department, making the transition as they move down the funnel feel jarring.
In an age where brand relationships are expected to be personal and consistent, such a customer experience can be really damaging to your brand.
How to Stay Aligned
Sometimes it seems like alignment is more of an art than a science. If you approach sales and marketing harmony as a concrete goal, it doesn’t have to be that way.
At The Receptionist, we’ve found that the following practices keep all of our customer-facing departments working in sync.
Work together closely and often
It’s pretty difficult — if not impossible — to talk to your colleagues a few times a day and not know what they’re working on, what they hope to achieve, and what they’re struggling with.
At the Receptionist, many of our employees aren’t in the same physical office every day, but we still talk frequently on Slack and check in via phone calls if we’re not sitting in the same room.
Beyond these more casual conversations, we also schedule formal weekly meetings between marketing and sales, and ensure they have a consistent agenda to keep everyone on track.
The more time that your sales and marketing teams spend together, the more they’ll understand each other’s goals and speak the same language.
Work toward the same goals
The idea of “shared goals” doesn’t have to be a fuzzy or unclear concept. To make sure your team really does share short- and long-term goals, you need to clarify exactly what those goals are.
At The Receptionist, we’re big fans of making goals SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. We also start with the big-picture goals (10-year goals) and break them down into smaller, more concrete steps that help keep momentum rolling towards that big end goal.
For more on how we set goals at The Receptionist, check out this post: Business Owners: Use These Best Practices for Goal Setting
Everyone on our marketing and sales teams takes part in our big-picture goals, including annual individual goals and quarterly themes. Those goals usually revolve around hitting revenue targets and moving the company as a whole in a strategic direction. Everyone in each department will know that our goal for the year might be, for example, to extend our software services to 100 new locations. These are the goals that everyone in marketing, sales, and customer support will play a role in meeting. We all celebrate together when we reach these goals.
We also have 90-day goals that are more specific to individual teams or projects.
For example, the marketing team might have goals for web traffic, while the sales team has its own specific quotas. These goals are team-specific, but that certainly doesn’t mean they need to stay private. When the marketing team sets their goals, they should be asking whether their plan lines up with the goals of the sales department.
For example, is the marketing team’s goal of X leads enough to reasonably help sales reach their goal of X new accounts?
Feelings of resentment and possessiveness can corrupt your culture. That’s why it’s so important to hire carefully, hire according to your values, and evaluate any candidates with a critical eye if it seems like they will contribute to a toxic or political office culture.
For more on how we hire at The Receptionist, check out our podcast: How We Hire: Our Search for a Director of Sales
If you want the relationship between sales and marketing to stay healthy, consider hiring people who have experience in the departments they’ll be working alongside. If they don’t have any cross-departmental experience, it might be worth providing it during training. For example, the marketing team could try to stage a few demos to get a feel for what the sales team has to deal with regularly.
This kind of crossover experience makes it even easier for the teams to empathize with one another and root for one another’s success.
View your jobs through the lens of service
In our FABRIC podcast on the topic of sales and marketing alignment, Receptionist Marketing Director Michael Ashford says he takes the role of the marketing department and boils it down to the following job: helping sales as much as possible.
That service-based mindset keeps things super simple and eliminates any sense of politics or “turf” between marketing and sales.To eliminate workplace politics and office turf wars, your team must adopt a service mindset. Click To Tweet
Director of Sales Tom Foster agreed that sales also plays a role in helping marketing meet their goals. For example, sales can make sure that marketing has the tools and information they need to attract the leads most likely to become customers.
You may have worked in an organization where the expectations for what marketing was supposed to deliver to sales were spelled out in a service-level agreement.
But those kinds of formalities are usually unnecessary in a healthy company culture where employees enjoy working with each other and aim to help one another out.
At The Receptionist, we have a relatively small team, which makes it a little easier for us to all work together closely. However, we also often work remotely — and we make an effort to stay in constant communication despite that distance.
It’s extremely important to our team that everyone feels like we’re on the same page, and that we’re working together toward the same goals.
That’s part of what we believe makes our office a fun place to work. (And by the way, this notion of “fun” is one of the core values we have identified for ourselves—it’s the first letter in our FABRIC!).
If you want to learn more about our culture at The Receptionist, don’t forget to check our FABRIC podcast.
Michael and Tom, our directors of marketing and sales joined a recent episode of the podcast to discuss the importance of the two departments working together. “Meet” the pair and listen here: When Sales and Marketing Work Together, Growth is Exponential
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