How department frenemies hurt your pipeline

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fren•e•my [fren-uh-mee] (noun): A person or group that is friendly toward another because the relationship brings benefits, but harbors feelings of resentment or rivalry

Let’s be honest, your marketing and sales teams aren’t bosom buddies. Heck, they likely aren’t even pals. For the majority of companies today, they are “frenemies.”

In fact a recent survey of 550 sales executives found that only 35% said their marketing and sales departments are operational aligned (Bain & Company, “Mastering the new reality of sales”).

This leaves the vast majority of companies ready to pull up the therapist’s couch for a little relationship counseling.

The fundamental rule for any good relationship is communication. In fact marketing and sales pros build their whole professional life around this ability, yet, it is always surprising to see how they fail to communicate with each other.

In many B2B companies, the boundaries between these two departments are often all too clear. The proverbial “no trespassing” sign is posted and neither dares to tiptoe over to the “dark side,” leaving each department unaware of the other’s activities and efforts.

However, this creates a vicious cycle. Marketing does its job nurturing the leads and finally passes them over when they deem them to be sales ready. Taking their turn at bat, sales finds the leads are under qualified or just not ready. The deal doesn’t close. Fingers get pointed. And then repeat.

Does marketing know what sales deems a qualified lead? Does sales understand the information that marketing is providing them through a digital footprint? Are both sides consistently and clearly presenting the offering’s value proposition? Has there even been a conversation to see if the correct audience is actually being reached?

The answer to all of the above is likely a resounding “no.”

However, aligned companies understand that moving a lead from cold to close should be a steady and natural progression. Just as salespeople need to embrace the concept of early stage nurturing, marketing has to understand their job doesn’t stop when a lead is passed over.

So the question lingers, how do you make these frenemies play nice? The fact is they may never be besties, but it also is clear that organizations must rethink where marketing ends and sales begins.

By reworking this process and creating clearly defined objectives, organizations are able to help connect these two departments.

It goes back to that fundamental rule of relationships: communication. By defining common-interest goals together, outlining and communicating the efforts and activities to reach those goals, each stage of the lead-to-revenue process will become a measurable objective that naturally creates a smooth transition for the lead as it moves between the two departments.

Creating this process may not be easy. And it will likely need revising as well. But it becomes well worth the effort. By having both departments communicate their needs and objectives, they build the process and in essence, they buy into the process.

Holding each department accountable for their mutually agreed upon goals mitigates the finger pointing, and hopefully gets these frenemies talking.

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