Encouraging Marketing and Sales Collaboration

Marketing and Sales

Professionals who identify as marketers and those who identify as sales representatives are moving closer and closer together. Each department serves a distinct goal, but marketers and sales representatives directly affect the bottom line. In HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report, companies with generally aligned marketing and sales departments account for 44 percent of respondents. Moreover, 82 percent of companies with a tightly aligned relationship between marketing and sales (aka an SLA) identify their marketing strategy as effective.

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Why Marketing and Sales Teams Must Work Together

Marketing and sales teams work toward the same goals, but many departments fail to work with counterparts who follow through with the plan. Marketers see the potential in the field of prospects while sales professionals wonder at a marketer’s optimism after a day in the field. To recognize true success, each department must understand and recognize the importance of the other.

On the surface, marketing professionals develop a prospect list, but sales professionals develop customer relationships. Each department plays a distinct role in lead development and customer acquisition. HubSpot’s report explains how they can streamline the sales cycle if they work together.

Download The State of Inbound 2016 Report »


An effective way to break down silos between marketing and sales and improve ROI is by creating a service level agreement. A formalized agreement allows departments to define goals and hold each department accountable, while facilitating the need for interdepartmental cooperation.

Creating a Marketing and Sales SLA

SLAs commonly support vendor relationships, but they can enhance in-house activities, too. If your marketing and sales departments are separate, consider the following tips for improving communication between the two and creating an SLA:

  • Develop a common understanding. The departments must come together, define the target market, and identify the characteristics of a lead. For both marketers and sales professionals to meet the same goals, each must understand the big-picture business drivers. Each department plays a role in the sales cycle. From understanding to acquisition, marketers and sales professionals can benefit from one another’s specializations.
  • Set mutually beneficial goals. Consider the overarching goals of the marketing and sales departments. Each group moves the company closer to lead generation, customer acquisition, and retention. When the departments recognize the real-world process, they can develop activities and goals that benefit themselves and the company.
  • Measure performance. Lead conversion and customer acquisition activities rarely hinge on either the marketing or sales departments. Instead, both departments engage in activities that directly impact the bottom line.

Formalize the relationship between sales and marketing to increase transparency, improve collaboration, and identify solutions to digital incongruences. When sales and marketing teams understand each other and work together, businesses can monitor the customer lifecycle from awareness to purchasing.

State of Inbound Reports Insights for Improving Collaboration

Use these tips to help sales and marketing teams work together:

  • Avoid categorization. Bring people together with a common category. Call your sales and marketing team a growth enhancement group or an opportunity identification group. When sales professionals and marketers feel connected and part of the decision-making process, they are more likely to invest personally in the effort.
  • Remember, everyone is a salesperson. Sales professionals specialize in customer service and sales, but everyone – whether they handle mail services or create and enforce a marketing strategy – who works for a brand is a salesperson. Empower team members to consider the customer first.
  • Use the same technology. When both departments use the same CRM, they can focus on delivering a uniform customer experience. Encourage all customer-facing professionals to add information into a CRM database to improve the dataset.

HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 report discusses the impact of inbound marketing activities compared with traditional sales. Referrals, sales-sourced leads, and marketing-sourced leads contribute to high-quality leads. Learning how to maximize collaboration between customer-facing departments to drive sales results can help you and your business outperform the competition in 2017 and beyond.

HubSpot's State of Inbound 2016 Report

About the Author

Frank Cowell

Frank Cowell

@frankcowell

Frank Cowell is President at Elevator, a digital brand strategy agency based in the San Diego, California area. He works regularly with CEOs, CMOs, and VPs of Marketing who are looking to create amazing brand experiences while driving inbound leads. A self-taught programmer with a deep understanding of technology, Frank enjoys a unique blend of brand development and marketing savvy that enables him to offer fresh perspectives on often-complex marketing concepts that he distills into actionable, easy-to-understand language. An energetic and entertaining speaker, Frank presents regularly to regional and national organizations on topics related to branding and digital marketing.

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