How to End the Sales vs. Marketing Battle Today

We’ve all heard the classic battle cries, bouncing off the walls of our conference rooms and sneaking their way onto our conference calls and into our Slack channels: “Marketing, your leads suck!” claims one side, while the other side says, “Sales, I could give you a lead with a pen and checkbook in hand, and you’d find a way to drop the ball.”

This war has been going on for so long that I’ve honestly almost forgotten about it. We’ve all become numb to the tension, the finger-pointing, and the criticism. It has become an accepted battleground. Now, it’s time to wave the white flag, and here are the 5 ways to do it.

The Cost of War

I’ve seen hundreds of companies stuck in this dilemma, unwilling to face the problem and push to change. With sales and marketing as two gigantic line items on the budget, the amount of money being wasted with the two not working side by side is criminal. Not only are the two most important items to your revenue growth not maximizing their potential by using their skills appropriately, but they are also costing you culture, time, and wasted effort.

Wave the Flag 

So how do we put this thing to rest?  How do we maximize the efforts of two talented teams, bringing them together as one machine that’s heading in the same direction, with the same goal, and on the same page? I don’t have to show you statistics for you to understand the insane upside of having your Marketing team actually producing leads that your Sales team can convert into deals. On the reverse, imagine a Sales team invested and excited about leads coming through the Marketing channel. Here is your warpath to get there:

Better Define Your Mission.

A clear defined mission is your very first step. Most of the time, the Sales department has no clue what marketing is specifically out to accomplish and vice-versa. “Generating leads” and “making sales” are about as detailed as these missions go in the average company. As a leader, you have to get crystal clear with sharing your high-level business objectives so that you can assign each team (Sales and Marketing) their part and responsibility in helping make it happen. Your teams need a “why” more than “generate leads.” 

Put the Generals in Charge of Comms.

Once Leadership, Marketing, and Sales are on the same page about why we’re doing what we’re doing, someone has to head up communications and accountability moving forward. This is oftentimes the biggest breakdown. Too many times, Marketing and its leader have a goal, and Sales and its leader have a goal; however, they are not aligned, and it creates an easy platform for Marketing to point its finger at sales and vice versa. I recommend a neutral leadership party in charge of the overall metrics that each team is responsible for and reporting on to cut through the easy excuses of finger-pointing.  Someone has to get into the weeds and verify where and why the failure happened.  

Lose Some Battles Without Losing the War.

As you are analyzing the weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly performance of your marketing and sales efforts, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Marketing is going to run some campaigns that flop belly up. Sales is going to let some leads slip through the cracks that they shouldn’t have. But, if you are tight with the specific objectives and battles that you are trying to win, you can learn from actual data. 

You must measure everything. Every single campaign that is being run by Marketing should be measured with a success rate all the way through Sales. Every single lead generated by Marketing should be measured on the Sales side. At the end of your quarter (or whatever objective cycle you run on), what were our best campaigns?  Okay, let’s do more of those. What were our best leads? Okay, let’s see how we can get more of those. What were the best deals we closed, and where did they come from? Let’s get clear on those answers.

Become One Unit

The most obvious reason that Sales and Marketing are at war is that leaders allow them to be on different pages. There is a wall that has been created, and someone from the other side should not cross. We know our stuff — you know yours. Leave us alone.  You have to put an end to this right now. Bring Sales and Marketing together, all the way down to the individual contributor level, and force them to learn from each other. The more Sales knows about being a marketer, the better themselves and the team will be.  The more Marketing knows about sales, the better themselves and the team will be.

If you want to really take this to an extreme, have them switch roles for a week.  If a salesperson watches a marketing analyst make a cold call to a lead, they will quickly be sympathetic about the quality of leads they are out to generate. Tasking a salesperson with the job of finding creative ways to build a campaign from scratch that will drive cold prospects to engage with your company will leave their head spinning, giving them a crazy amount of respect for the game. The more these two teams respect each other and align under the same flag, the better they will work together.

Align Incentives. 

The best way I’ve found to push people to work together to accomplish great things is to align the money where the mouth is. It never made sense to me that Sales was compensated so much differently than Marketing. Both roles have one job — generate revenue. Why is one compensated highly on commission and the other not? If you really want to put an end to this war, align compensation for your Sales and Marketing teams.  When Marketing wins, Sales wins, and everyone wins. Marketing should have the opportunity to make commission when they do their job (generate leads that turn into business) just as much as Sales does. You’ll be amazed how fast these two opponents start getting along when their paychecks are dependent on finding ways to win together.   

The Opportunity of Coalition


The opportunity ahead of you in turning these foes into friends is unlimited. While the rest of the world makes excuses, points fingers, and refuses to use the weapons at their disposal, commit to waving the white flag inside your organization and get Sales and Marketing on the same mission — to win. 

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