Break Sales and Marketing Out of Their Silos

Much more that can get done when sales and marketing understand and respect one another.

February 26, 2019

6 Min Read
Grain Silos

By Allison Francis

Misaligned incentives, lack of insight into pricing strategies and disparate goals are just some of the problems that come from sales and marketing operating in silos within an organization.

Three sales and marketing experts will discuss the havoc that comes from a lack of communication between the people framing your company’s value prop and those charged with selling it to customers.

They will share advice in their presentation, “Align or Die: Why Sales & Marketing Must Pull Together — or Perish Apart,” part of the sales and marketing track, April 9, during the Business Success Symposium at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

Channel Partners spoke to the panelists: Heather Margolis, founder and CEO of Channel Maven Consulting; Kayla Kirkeby, vice president of marketing for Dizzion; and Carrie Simpson, CEO and founder at Managed Sales Pros.


Channel Maven Consulting’s Heather Margolis

The speakers shared their thoughts on the subject of sales and marketing and the need for harmony and alignment between the two. We have edited the answers for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: Describe some of the consequences that come from a lack of communication between sales and marketing.

Heather Margolis: There are so many; how long do we have! One [of the biggest] issues is that an organization isn’t being efficient if marketing is generating leads that sit in a funnel without be pushed through, and sales is focusing only on [its] previous client or low-hanging fruit. How much money is being left on the table? [As a consequence], prospects or targets are then hearing from two (or more) people from the same company which shows that the organization overall is not aligned.

Kayla Kirkeby: When sales and marketing aren’t aligned, an organization’s growth engine isn’t fully optimized. It isn’t functioning at max capacity. At the end of the day, sales and marketing are the tip of the spear for an organization in terms of generating new business. Without that, growth slows. And, while communication is certainly critical, understanding – and perhaps even empathy – between the two functions, is really key. Recognizing [that] everyone brings a certain set of skills and expertise to their position, and then from a leadership standpoint putting individuals in a position to maximize those strengths is really foundational to this optimization as well.


Dizzion’s Kayla Kirkeby

Carrie Simpson: The biggest consequences I’ve seen from a lack of communication between sales and marketing include constant arguments on what qualifies as a “qualified lead,” dissent and finger pointing (are the leads bad, or is the sales team cherry picking?) and lack of clarity around the handoff point (when does an MQL become a SQL?).

CP: What’s sales’ No. 1 complaint about marketing, and vice versa?  

HM: Sales thinks marketing wastes time and money. Marketing thinks sales does things with no strategy or processes. If they just worked together, they’d realize it’s not a handoff from marketing to sales; it’s [meant to be a] handing back and forth, depending upon the status of the prospect/suspect/lead/opportunity. For example, if sales is already sending prospecting emails, they could include one or two keywords that marketing is trying to optimize and hyperlink from those keywords in their email to the appropriate page. This would not only strengthen their optimization, but [would] also enable the prospects to link back and forth to pages that would answer their questions, thereby moving them down the buyer’s journey.

KK: In my experience, complaints in either direction generally stem from a lack of understanding or …

… empathy of what it takes to do another person’s role. Does the marketing team understand what it takes to identify new business, execute a prospect demo, handle objections, or negotiate a MSA, for instance? Conversely, does the sales team recognize what it takes to execute a digital campaign, pull off a flawless event, or launch a new website? Getting everyone within a sales and marketing organization to rally around the customer/prospect and associated growth objectives is critical and sets the tone for a team’s culture.


Managed Sales Pro’s Carrie Simpson

CS: Sales’ No. 1 complaint about marketing is that the leads they are generating aren’t closing. Marketing’s No. 1 complaints about sales [are] that they don’t work their leads, they drop the ball on leads because they aren’t “whales,” or they just want “slam dunk” leads that don’t [generate] any follow-up work.

CP: In the age of recurring services, how do these problems (such as misaligned incentives, lack of insight into pricing strategies and disparate goals) factor in?

KK: In a recurring services model, it’s critical for sales and marketing to move at a relatively fast cadence — for instance, driving to monthly or even weekly goals. And obviously, hitting the ground running at the beginning of the fiscal period or year impacts the larger revenue picture. Maximizing booked and installed revenue early in the year is really important and is difficult to achieve if sales and marketing aren’t fully aligned.

CS: You can’t incentivize your marketing team on the performance of your sales team, and vice versa. You can only incentivize people on what they personally can control and achieve. You need to identify a combination of variables to incent your team. If you look at Goodhart’s law, you can see that most incentive programs built around only one metric ([such as] number of leads, or number of appointments or closed deals monthly) are faulty from the beginning. Charles Goodwin stated “when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure,” implying that if you measure only one thing, it can be “gamed.”

For example, if marketing [receives a bonus] based on their ability to collect business cards at a trade show, they stop caring about the quality of the leads. If the sales team is only incented on closed deals, they’ll offer deals just to hit that quota. So, you have two teams operating in independent silos, focused on one measurement. The company will flounder, while the teams both appear to be successful.

CP: What is one thing you hope your audience will take away from the panel?

HM: This is less about who’s right or wrong and more about 1+1=3. There are so many efficiencies and so much more that can get done when sales and marketing understand and respect what the other is trying to accomplish.

KK: I hope we are able to impart some tactical strategies and best practices to close gaps between marketing and sales teams to drive growth more effectively.

CS: Actionable information. Bring your biggest challenges — let’s hope everyone walks away ready to apply things that are applicable to their businesses instead of theories.

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