Five Ways to Ensure Your Sales & Marketing Departments are Aligned

The Experts

Many business leaders often blur the line between sales and marketing and, while these crucial business development functions are closely intertwined, they are not the same.  Each team within your organization should be on the same page in pursuing “big picture” business goals.  But hidden agendas, a lack of clarity or confusion about company objectives can all lead to conflict and misunderstanding.

To ensure your sales and marketing teams are “rowing the boat in the same direction,” here are five strategies that successful company leaders implement on a consistent basis.

ONE. Make sure each team has clear, published goals. Marketing and sales should each have a comprehensible, accurate list of priorities that are regularly updated and shared with the entire organization. Specifically, each team should know the other team’s top three Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that they are being judged against at any given time.  For example, if sales think one of marketing’s main priorities is lead generation but lead generation for sales isn’t one of the marketing team’s top three priorities, the sales team needs to know that lead gen is not going to happen! Ideally, the key people from the two teams will sit down together and identify the two or three KPIs that they are each monitoring, and each working to improve, to support their shared goals.

TWO. Make sure marketing and sales meet on a regular basis.  Schedule a brief weekly check-in involving the key players from both teams. Discuss the relevant KPIs and support the two teams as they synchronize their efforts to improve them. Companies that do not make this meeting a requirement have inadvertently created a recipe for a disconnect!

THREE. Make sure marketing’s messaging is pain-based. “Pain-based” simply means “focused on a major business problem that the company can address, one that real-life buyers are experiencing and trying to solve every day.” The sales team, of course, should be well-versed in identifying such problems and providing recent examples. Note that, sometimes, what marketing believes is the best business case is not connected to a relevant “pain” that the sales team is addressing in the field! The sales team should have front-line experience, and metrics, that will help refine the marketing team’s messaging … and keep it from being all about features and benefits of your products and services. Before you publish marketing pieces, make sure they align with how your sales team is actually selling! The same problems your sales team is discussing with prospects should be the ones discussed in your marketing materials. If your sales team has metrics that clarify how they are adding value and why people are buying, your marketing team needs to see those metrics.

FOUR. Each team should spend one day per quarter shadowing the other team. Marketing is typically shocked to learn how much salespeople actually do on a daily basis – and vice versa.  Interestingly, members of both teams tend to assume the other team spends most of the day in “permanent vacation” mode. The best way to erase those misconceptions? Make sure each team spends a “day in the life” by the side of someone from the other team.

FIVE. Celebrate success. Don›t point out just the disconnects. Look for reasons to have some fun when either of the two teams scores a win – and certainly when they collaborate on an important accomplishment. Celebrations are incredibly important, because they help team members connect with each other as people, rather than just as coworkers. When there’s something to cheer about, make sure the members of the teams find an appropriate way to acknowledge the victory – together!

Jim Marshall is owner and president of Sandler Training of Tampa Bay, which provides sales, corporate and management training to high-achieving companies and individuals. Contact him at 813.287.1500 or

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