The Great Divide Between Sales and Marketing

If your organization is like most than chances are you have some type of a division between your sales and marketing departments. Many articles suggest ways to close the divide, but in order to fix this issue, we should understand the underlying problems that are causing the divide.

The root of the problem is that the roles of both sales and marketing have changed in recent years. Sales used to nurture prospects. Leads were contacting sales to gather information, and sales sent information they felt was relevant. They created and maintained the relationship with a small group of leads. As such, sales was in the know about their own records and others were not always aware of their activities. Marketers managed media buys, did public relation activities, managed events logistics, and designed a myriad of creative.

However, times have changed. The internet has forever changed the way customers buy. Prospects are no longer calling sales but search for information on the internet. Consumers are absorbing information through different channels and devices that did not even exist few years ago. Sales cycles are longer, margins are eroding, there are more decision makers, prospects have more choices, and having an actual meeting with a prospect is becoming more challenging.

To combat these changes new marketing channels, technologies and sales tactics have emerged. While these changes are great, it made both marketing and sales’ jobs highly complex. Today, marketers not only produce creative but decide on what to communicate and how to build relationships with prospects. In addition marketers attend to new and evolving channels such as social media, mobile, and lead nurturing. Marketing is required to manage databases, marketing automation systems, websites, and various other applications. With new technologies available, management requires marketers to analyze data, measure results, and provide a return on marketing investments.

In order to comply with management’s requirement, marketers are scoring prospects, assigning them to sales, alerting sales, requiring sales to document their activities, following up with sales, reporting to management regarding sales activities, connecting opportunities to campaigns, and reporting on marketing activities. Sales is required to follow new procedures, spend a lot of time documenting, being social, and consulting prospects instead of selling to them the old ways. They have no freedom in what, how, when, and who to communicate with and are questioned about everything they do and do not do. Is it any wonder that both departments are at their wits end?

While the new requirements that emerged out of need won’t revert back to the old ways, there are some things both departments could do to ease tensions. Marketing needs to set the appropriate expectations with management and pick its battles with sales. The reason sales do not like to do busy work is because they want to sell. As such, marketing should automate processes and systems wherever is possible, keep communication with sales simple and short, and complete 90% of any projects that requires sales’ help. Sales also has to realize that times have changed and they do need marketing’s help. Marketing is not tattletaling to management but required to produce reports. Marketing shares sales’ misery regarding reporting but it is in both departments’ interest to track, measure, and understand what marketing activities are working so they can increase lead flow and improve lead quality.