Stuck in a T-Shirt: Why Sales & Marketing Need to Get Along

Filed in Marketing Ideas on May 2, 2017 by

The smarketing struggle is indeed real. So is being stuck in a t-shirt with your mean older brother after you get in a fight. And would a breakdown in communication by another name smell as sweet? We’ve all heard it before. Marketing people think salespeople need to come down to earth and stick with a program. Sales people think marketing leads are garbage and… what is it that they do anyhow?

But real problems lurk behind misaligned sales and marketing teams. Do you suffer from falsely inflated numbers or low conversion rates? Is your input-output flow off balance? A little sibling rivalry is actually healthy, but if you have at least one of these issues — it sounds like you need a smarketing get-along t-shirt! Here are the top four breakdowns between sales and marketing that you need to address now:

1. You don’t have SQL and MQL definitions that sales and marketing agree upon (or even know).
It sounds silly once you write it out, doesn’t it? Expect trouble if you don’t have these important lead basics locked down. It’s marketing’s job to make sure they generate solid leads that convert into solid sales opportunities. At the same time, if sales isn’t bought into (or doesn’t know) what that process looks like, expect some turbulence. Sales has to clearly communicate what is and isn’t working, so marketing doesn’t drum up hundreds of nonprofit leads, for example, for a sales team that has never once closed a not-for-profit.

We have found that the same call can be a major win, or a terrible failure, based on the caller’s expectations. For example, we once gave our sales development team a list of warm, non-qualified leads to work. The team thought they were qualified leads, and were horrified and frustrated by what they heard when they got folks on the phone. Until they realized who they were calling… and realized that for new leads they were very engaged.

Manage everyone’s expectations (and precious call time) by keeping processes and definitions crystal clear for both sides.

2. Sales and Marketing are unaware of each other’s activities in a given moment.
Ah, the ever-problematic blindspot. IBM Founder Andrew Grove says that the most successful companies focus on vital, measurable indicators of output. If your organization’s inner-workings are like a “black box,” as he calls it (in other words, opaque), you cannot gain vital insights into what the organization’s future output will be.


A lack of visibility is a good method to send your smarketing into a tailspin. If your marketing automation platform and CRM cannot speak to one another, you have to rely on meetings and spreadsheets to align. Modern technology thankfully has many ways to circumvent these issues, empowering salespeople with full visibility into what marketing a given lead has received (take a look at our marketing and sales alignment tool, Personal Marketing Center, for example). Sales, in turn, can share their important findings with marketing to help inform future output. As Grove suggests: train your teams to hook onto small, objective, quantifiable measures of output that can be reviewed daily and help pave a brighter future for your business.

3. Marketing created their buyer personas without input from sales
Marketing needs a reality check before they overlook sales’ important insights. After all, who is actually on the phone talking to prospects and customers? Buyer personas are for the buying cycle. It just doesn’t make sense to not get input from sales! It’s important that ideal personas are created from a place of understanding — and nobody but sales understands that ideal.


4. Your conversion rate is less than desirable.
Low conversion rates are often seen as a sales problem, but in reality, marketing must own getting sales the quality inputs they need in the first place. Which came first? Conversion rates can be a chicken-or-the-egg situation. Both sides contribute to the issues, and if both sides aren’t talking about them, it creates a headache for everyone. Marketing has to know the difference between the leads sales love and the ones they disdain. Sales can empower marketing with feet-on-the-ground insights to make better choices.

That customer journey that marketing has carefully crafted? Sales should know how it works, especially when it concerns thresholds for tossing leads over to sales. That way, the sales team’s expectations aren’t different, or worse — higher — than reality. Misaligned expectations lead to disappointment! Keep your inputs (and expectations) a two-way street, so both teams can deliver.

Smarketing-Alignment-Get-Along-ShirtPFL Marketing Director Sara Tatnall and Sales Director Weston Comfort Will Get Along!

Is it time to stuff your sales and marketing teams into a get-along t-shirt? Maybe. It’s always time to stop crying and get proactive about keeping both input and output visible, accessible and open to discussion. Perhaps you could avoid the t-shirt altogether. We’ve had plenty of our own issues with the smarketing divide, and we’ve always found that communication (after some tears) is key! Get everyone on board with sales and marketing’s activities. Share insights, successes and, most importantly, your failures. Learn to get along with your pesky sibling, and watch your conversion rates, efficiency and overall synchronicity soar. Can’t we just all get along?

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