Since the dawn of the modern business model, sales and marketing teams have had a notoriously rocky relationship—made rockier by the fact that they are two of the most critical departments in any organization. And, like most issues that arise, a lack of effective communication is to blame.
From the sales team perspective, the problem is obvious: Marketing spends their days creating content that is completely irrelevant to closing deals. Get out from behind your desk. We don’t need all this pretty collateral. We’re the ones building relationships and have the ultimate say in negotiations. We know what’s best for our customers because we see and interact with them on a regular basis. Where are my leads? And, why does marketing have all the budget? We could be using these dollars to increase commissions, buy sales tools or hire more reps. Marketing doesn’t understand what sales teams are up against. We have too much on our plates, we’re directly improving the bottom line and we are the only ones producing the results.
Marketing, on the other hand, finds it difficult to work with sales: It’s frustrating when sales teams don’t use any of the content we create for each carefully researched target persona. Or worse, when sales teams go rogue and create their own content. They give us no visibility into which of our collateral is being used. Sales needs more leads, but they don’t convert enough of the leads they’re given. Sales doesn’t truly understand what we are trying to do, and they can’t see the big picture. If sales would just cooperate more with our goals and initiatives, we would be better off.
It’s the argument as old as time, and unfortunately for the modern business model, there is no marriage-counselor-equivalent for sales and marketing teams to hash out their differences. So instead, we’ve put together a few tips for getting them to work in harmony through the power of consistent branding.
Consistency is key! Develop brand guidelines.
Seth Godin has a great definition of a brand: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Your brand should build awareness and develop trust and loyalty with customers, and to do that, it has to be consistent. No doubt your marketing team knows this lesson already, but for the sales teams that create their own sell sheets and social posts, it’s time to listen up. Logos, colors, fonts and voice should be recognizable no matter which department created the content—and that’s where brand guidelines come in.
Most large corporations (and some small-to-midsize businesses, too) have their marketing teams create brand style and usage guidelines to ensure all messaging and brand asset use is on-point and consistent. These guides not only help the marketing department in creating future collateral, but they also serve as guides to other employees and departments. And above all, the guidelines align with a company’s vision, unifying all departments in the same mission.
With brand guidelines, your marketing team will feel appreciated every time your sales team references them, and your sales team will be happy to have guidance in creating their own materials and upholding a consistent brand. How’s that for win-win?
Partner your sales and marketing teams on the development of a sales playbook.
Not to be confused with a sales training manual, a sales playbook is a framework that assists sales representatives in closing more deals. A key component of a stellar playbook is stage-specific content, a.k.a., the various pitches given to drive home a sale. This is just the kind of project that requires the brain power of both sales and marketing.
Sales knows how much of the content created by marketing is actually being used. Marketing knows how to take your sales team’s pitches and turn them into on-brand collateral to help push a sale. All they need is to work together.
If there is a rift between sales and marketing in your business, this next step may be easier said than done. However, you can use this exercise as relationship mender. Let marketing review the existing playbook with sales management as a way to offer help without going into the conversation on the defense. If the sales team isn’t using the content that marketing has generated, ask questions to understand why instead of trying to force the issue. The sales team has front-line experience that can provide insights into why a piece of content doesn’t work. Marketing needs to take their feedback and help create something new—and brand-consistent—that will move prospects closer to a sale.
Who knows, after sharing late nights at the drawing board developing a killer sales playbook, they may just grow to value each other.
Don’t be afraid to grow and change.
Branding your business is one of the most important steps in building a company. It gives you a unique personality, establishes a differentiated position in the market that attracts the right customers and unifies all of your departments. However, your brand footprint will need to continuously change. Companies evolve and adapt to the world around them. They get bigger and mature. They reinvent themselves and go looking for something fresh. Don’t be afraid of this growth, and especially of this change.
You’ll have more people working for you, more products and services, and therefore, a bigger role for your marketing team in how your customers interact with you. You may need to change your style a bit, and that requires tapping into both the knowledge of your sales team and the creativity of your marketing team.
Rebrands are the perfect strategic opportunity to redefine who you are, what you do, why you do it and who you do it for, pulling insights from the teams that know the most about your market. As a bonus, your employees will feel a stronger attachment to your brand when they play a hand in creating it—plus a stronger attachment to the coworkers who helped them.
As a strategic branding agency, BatesMeron regularly assists clients with exactly this type of work. From building out more comprehensive guidelines for your existing brand to helping you strategically and confidently rebrand, these services are at the core of what we do. And when we do, we work with you to lay out a plan for adoption that gels with your corporate culture.
No matter the friction between your sales and marketing teams, the truth is, everyone at your organization should be striving for the same company goals. There may be disagreements about how to achieve them, but that’s the beauty of teamwork. By uniting your teams in building your brand, you’ll get stronger selling materials, better brand consistency and, most importantly, a lesson in teamwork that goes a long way.