Marketing · SaaS sales

What's the best way to get sales and marketing to support each other?

Danny Schaffer I help startups find and convert better prospects through LinkedIn

December 20th, 2017

This is a problem I've seen at loads of different companies. Sales and marketing operate in silos, divorced from one another and considered two completely different breeds. Often times with a certain degree of contempt for each other - sales asking for better leads and marketing wondering why sales can't close.


I've read loads articles on the importance of getting sales and marketing teams to collaborate and how integrated teams can have a massive impact on the bottom line. So would love to hear a few opinions on ways to create a culture of cooperation and teamwork, where everyone's accountable and driven by tangible results.

Robert Johnson I help people start and build their business.

December 22nd, 2017

I too have witnessed the "dysfunctional" relationship between sales and marketing in many organizations. I'm not sure there is a simple answer for every situation. I have a few thoughts on a way to begin:

1 Organizational. In many companies (especially tech) the sales and marketing functions are separate departments- along with engineering, manufacturing and finance, etc. The structure sets the "tone" for a contentious relationship.


2. Purpose: In many places, the marketing group is set up "oversee" the sales people- especially as relates to pricing.


3. Measures/ goals In most places, the sales and marketing functions have 2 different (and sometimes mutually exclusive) sets of measurements.


My personal opinion is that the "customer interface/ relationship" function should be under the guidance of one senior executive. Unless the CEO has the experience and desire to perform that role, it should be at the next level.

Raghu Ranjolkar Strategic Marketing Consultant

December 29th, 2017

Speak the same language as Sales


A revenue-generating marketing organization means working much more closely with Sales than in the past. And to get their attention, you need to speak their language. When you talk about open rates, lead generation, and automated nurture campaigns,


Sales hears "marketing-speak." Don't talk about leads. Talk about qualified opportunities and closed business.

As marketing organizations make the transition into revenue generation, the shift to speaking the same language will start happening organically. Planning, forecasting, pipeline, bookings, and revenue become the common ground for the two organizations to work together.


Maintain the relationship with prospects and buyers


It's no longer acceptable to hand off the lead or opportunity and walk way. Marketing has to take responsibility for working with Sales to find ways to help move the buying process along. When marketing hands off the opportunity, it should not lose the relationship. It needs to maintain the connection throughout the buyer's journey. Once a lead is qualified and converted into an opportunity, Marketing should create pipeline acceleration programs to help Sales close deals. For instance, marketing could create an individualized program for opportunities that have been stuck for 30 days or more, to help move them forward.



Steve Owens

December 26th, 2017

Not sure the complaining is a bad thing - shows they care.


Set clear Roles and Responsibilities and facilitate collaborative decision making. Best book I have read on this subject is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.


It is a lot of work and takes a long time to develop a functional team. Don't expect results overnight.

Chris Berger Founder - 25 years Sales & Marketing, 10 years start up consultant for founders and investors.

December 26th, 2017

Nothing lends perspective like walking a mile in someone else's shoes.


I have seen Sales and Marketing teams make significant progress towards alignment with as little as one day of immersive conversations around motivation.


Often the opposing objective is coming from leadership. When this is the case, usually each group is quick to empathize and build solutions that reduce the frustration for everyone once the source cause has been identified.


When leadership needs to align with this topic, it's again an exercise in perspective.


Ultimately margin is the true north each group must align with. Sales tend to look at immediate and attainable while Marketing leads towards what's possible.


Balancing this conversation is up to the CEO and should be decided based on the organization's priority matrix.

P Saldana Needed - Tech Co-founders YES two (back- & front-end)

December 29th, 2017

The solution partly involves coupling one function's incentives to the successful outcomes of the other. An example of this would be to structure bonuses in a way that requires both functions to work together to secure the best outcome for the firm. A good evaluation system and aligning both functions under one VP are also important parts of the solution.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business coach

December 27th, 2017

Sales and marketing not getting along is a sign of marketing failure.


There are two philosophies. You need to decide which one you want your team to follow. 1) marketing is everything, all stuff comes from marketing and spreads out 2) marketing supports everything, create something good and marketing will figure out how to make people love it more. Really they are the same, but the wording orientation is different. The salespeople would say number one is where sales works for marketing, and number two is where marketing works for sales. Personally I stand more with number one, but I'm a marketing guy.


From the outside, many observers would think I was a sales guy (soft sales), but salesmanship is just a manifestation of marketing. I would never call myself a sales guy, but that's because I define Sales as an outbound effort whereas Marketing is more of an inbound effort. Both are involved in selling things, just oriented a little differently.


When your marketing and sales teams dislike each other, I say it's a marketing failure, because the marketing department has failed to recognize the sales team as the INTERNAL customer. Every company has both internal and external customers for each department. It's leadership's job to guide employees towards this recognition and prioritization where internal customers are as important as external customers.


I'm going to be very dismissive of your "accountable and tangible results" theory. The failure is not in results. The failure is in communication. You as the leader have failed to communicate how various roles treat internal customers. And marketing has failed to communicate how they are of service.


The objective of the marketing department is to ENABLE sales, not to drive the sales team. Enablement comes from a combination of external efforts as much as internal efforts. If the sales team does not effectively sell, they haven't been given the tools, been trained to use the tools, and been coached on how using the tools changes customer perception in the direction of making a purchase.


Although there are exceptions, I am going to point you towards organizations where the sales director is in charge of the sales team, and while they might have a director's title, they are not above the marketing director. In fact, they typically have less authority. And while separations might be maintained where marketing doesn't give instructions to sales people directly, marketing makes the ultimate decisions with the head of the company, and sales follows what the head says to do (as a result of conference with marketing). Since a sales failure is ultimately a marketing failure, sales has to be somewhat subordinate to marketing in the structure.


If you blame the sales department for lack of sales instead of the marketing department, you're encouraging these two divisions to compete for your love and fight with each other. If you make marketing ultimately responsible, marketing sees the value in LISTENING to sales (without you in the middle) so marketing can create the right tools that enable sales (as the internal customer).


If you put sales over marketing, you might as well hire an agency and not have an internal marketing department, because you've taken way the motivation for marketing to do its job, and you are incentivizing the wrong activity/focus for the salespeople. Sales is a great source of information, but you don't pay them to think about strategy. You pay them to establish and maintain great relationships. There's a difference.


The culture is broken because leadership doesn't understand the best use of resources, and it continues to look for external validation. If your internal customers aren't made happy first, you will not have happy external customers. Most likely external customers will be getting mixed messages and be only half-pleased with their purchases in this scenario.


Get your house in order with marketing over sales, and ultimate responsibility for performance. Make sales the internal customer of marketing. And stop running parallel tracks. These departments run best in series, not in parallel.

Devlin Fenton Cofounder and CEO @Go99; Cofounder and CEO @SurespanDigital

December 30th, 2017

If they have different targets/goals/metrics, why would you want them to work together? Either give them shared metrics such that they are measured on cooperative performance; or offer them resources that they can max out and achieve the targets/goals you set.


Assuming that your firm is not so dysfunctional that silos work antagonistically - competing with each other and not forwarding the strategies of the company...

Lyndon Johnson Public relations coach for startups & small businesses that can't afford agency retainers

December 29th, 2017

Great question Danny. The key is to design a strategy where the outcome comes first and then each team is allocated responsibility for their part in it. Each situation will be different - requiring different involvement of the departments.


They key is to keep the outcome as the primary focus- rather than focusing on the departmental structure. It's also important to split pr and marketing in to three clear areas: building and maintaining the required relationships, activating them, and communicating with them at scale.


Hope this helps,


Lyndon