When I worked in-house for a large client-facing B2B company, we often were frustrated at missteps and the lack of communication between the sales department and our department, which created marketing campaigns for clients. We felt they constantly over-promised, leading us to under-deliver because of turnaround times or because we simply couldn’t do what they promised.
Studies have found that sales and marketing teams often use different communication channels as well, only leading to more confusion.
While I eventually left that company to work on my own, hindsight is, as always, 20/20. Here are a few things I would do differently and suggest to the marketing department, if I was ever to work in the same situation.
Explain Goals, Metrics, and Abbreviations
Working in marketing full-time often means that the abbreviations or industry metrics we take on become part of our every day jargon. However, for someone outside of our industry, these words often don’t have the same meanings.
Taking the time to explain what certain abbreviations or metrics, like bounce rate, click-through rate, or even SEO, to those working in your company’s sales department can make an huge difference when it comes to communicating about deals and what the client expectation should be.
On the flip side, it’s important for the marketing department to know what the sales team’s quota is and what terms they regularly use when working to meet the goals within their own team.
See One Other as People
Even though sales and B2B marketing professionals largely have different tasks, the over-arching goal is usually the same: make money or grow visibility for clients or the employer. If you think about having a common goal like this instead of focusing on the nuances of marketing campaigns or sales reports, it’s easier to see one another as people.
Take the time to get to know those in your sales department. Go to lunch with them or attend a happy hour. Building a relationship with those employees who are on the front line of interacting with current and potential customers will greatly influence your work.
Many times, the friendships I created with coworkers lead to them asking more questions about our department’s availability, whether or not something was possible for a client, or even our industry as a whole.
When that level of camaraderie is built, people feel more comfortable asking questions and working collaboratively.
This was often the most difficult part of my time working in-house in a B2B marketing department. The sales team, often eager to close the deal, would promise the client a turnaround time on campaigns of mere weeks, when it would take months to do properly. This lead to our team feeling like the salespeople didn’t care about our workload or how long it took us to run or setup a campaign.
While we didn’t attempt to permanently change the situation, there are things you can do if you’re experiencing the same levels of frustration.
In addition to teaching industry metrics or abbreviations as mentioned above, take the time to explain regular timelines and processes to the sales team. While they aren’t involved in the actual implementation process, showing them the time and effort it takes to create the campaigns they are selling to clients can make a huge difference to their process.
For instance, if the sales team regularly promises a two-week turnaround on a Facebook ad campaign, but with your current workload, it’s more like four to six weeks, walk the salespeople through the process. Explain how many clients you are already working with, the setup time needed (which includes more than just the implementation—there’s graphic design, copyediting, approval, etc), and what the finished project looks line.
Once the sales team sees the way a project moves through the process from sale to completion, they will have a better understanding of what your team can do.
Look For Opportunities to Collaborate
Collaboration between sales and marketing isn’t something that many people see as crucial unless it’s required to close a sale or fix a customer issue. However, having a collaborative sales and marketing team can help organizations:
- Have better communication across departments
- Grow knowledge of industry terms and workflows
- Gain respect for what each department does for the company (and each other)
- Build a more positive work environment
Once you’ve built up relationships with sales members, offer to help them review proposals or create a case study that they can send to potential clients. Make their job easier with tons of examples and charts or data. In return, they will send you better-prepared clients that have realistic expectations of what’s next in the process.
Present a United Front to Clients and Customers
In any organization, there have likely been several instances of the sales and marketing teams contradicting one another. Often the client is promised a quick deadline, which the marketing department misses. Or, the marketing department doesn’t read the sales proposal and contract closely and doesn’t add a crucial piece of content to the project that the salesperson promised.
If there’s every any confusion when dealing with a client, don’t scurry to cover your own team. Simply say, “I think there may be some confusion on this, let me get back to you,” then work with the sales team to determine what the disconnect could have been. Once you come up with a solution, presenting a united front to the client (or to the executive board, if it’s an internal project) will be more professional and taken more seriously.
While B2B marketing has challenges of its own, don’t add more frustration to your plate by resenting the sales department. Instead, work with them to build relationships and develop a better understanding of each department’s role, which will only make projects and campaigns easier and a lot less stressful.
Images via Pixabay.