The Sales and Marketing Misalignment – 5 Trouble Signs to Lookout For

Inter-departmental clash of characters in any industry is unfortunately the norm.

In my days in the ad business, we creatives were constantly at odds with account executives. Glorified dispatch riders we used to call them, and some really lived up to the term.

Next up in the list of creatives’ enemies were coders and programmers. They could never understand why proper paragraph spacing was such a big deal. Needless to say, it drove us copywriters (and designers) to the verge of insanity.

Good times!

But these were mainly harmless feuds and competitive banter. Besides, there was a far more vicious common enemy – the client. Ok I’ll stop now.

Sales & Marketing Stat

In a typical company, the lack of synergy between Sales and Marketing departments, however, can have detrimental effects on the bottom line of a business. Misaligned direction and lack of transparent communication between the two teams can result in a nasty work environment and disjointed customer experience.

Until very recently, I was managing a sales team. Don’t ask me how or why. But in doing so – especially with more of a marketing background – I realised that the marketing and sales sync is imperative now more than ever.

A shared vision working towards common goals, along with clear understanding of each departments’ pain points results in peaceful, results-oriented coexistence that can lead to improved bottom lines and customer satisfaction.

If you suspect that your marketing and sales department are not in sync, look out for these 5 trouble signs, along with quick tips to get them back on track.

 

1. They Don’t Hang Out Together

Hey, we all need to de-stress after work. Gathering a bunch of colleagues and heading out for a bit of R&R is a great team-bonding activity that can result in improved empathy, teamwork and patience. But if your sales team does not socially mingle with your marketing team and vice versa, it is a clear sign of an invisible barrier of egos, discontent and misunderstandings.

Team Bonding

TIP: Organise a monthly social gathering that includes all team members across all departments, especially sales and marketing. Make sure it’s out-of-office and with minimal management intervention so they can be themselves and open opportunities for discourse.

 

2. Marketing Work Lacks Insights

Ask marketing and they say not briefed properly. Ask sales and they say it’s not their job. In the end, it’s the business that suffers as marketing communications that lack insight is not optimised to convince and convert.

No Insight

TIP: Include marketing team members in sales meetings – albeit just as observers. Understanding the customer journey – from a prospect to repeat purchaser – along with their pain points will help with crafting more relevant, timely communication.  

 

3. Dismal New Leads Generation

The lifeline of any business is not the products, resources or even sales. You can have all the sales pouring-in now, but what about in the medium to long term? Properly aligned sales and marketing teams work together to create a lead generation, optimisation and conversion system so that every opportunity is given due attention. It’s the recipe for a successful, sustainable business.

Lean Gen

TIP: Make it rewarding – set a desired lead conversion ratio, say 20 customers converted from every 100 new leads. Reward both the sales and marketing teams if achieved. A simple trick to get the team working together towards a common goal.

 

4. Recurring Misunderstandings

Salespersons are relationship builders who like to be in the thick of things. Whereas marketing team members are generally methodological, focused and outcome-driven. Naturally, the differences in mindset and personalities can trigger the occasional clash of characters. But if there is more clashing than problem-solving, then it’s possible there’s a deeper root cause.

Misunderstanding

TIP: Usually there is only one or two persons causing the friction, which unfortunately affects everyone. Identify the ‘troublemakers’ and do an intervention to establish a transparent, respectful culture with open communication.

 

5. Group Meetings are One-sided

Well-synced sales and marketing divisions often contribute, comment, and even disagree equally in meetings, all for the greater good. But if only one side is doing all the talking and the other side look like they rather be elsewhere then this could be a sign of animosity and divisiveness.

Group Meeting

TIP: Let the quiet lead the way – let the quieter of the two sides run the meeting once in a while as an avenue to be heard and add value. This also provides the alpha side a different perspective to things and may lead to increased collaboration and inter-departmental teamwork.

 

According to stats from the Precision Marketing Group, companies with good sales and marketing synergy can expect up to 208% more ROI from marketing efforts. Pretty eye-opening.

Especially now, with the global economy ravaged, ensuring your sales and marketing teams are aligning their efforts could be the best way to get more from existing resources. Every little effort counts, especially when both sales and marketing skills are needed at every stage of the customer journey.

With bottom lines at stake – it’s truly time to sync-up and quite possibly sink the competition. Good luck!

 

Rest or React?

The one lesson that us marketers should learn from this pandemic is this:

Nothing is guaranteed

No matter how well-strategised, thoroughly planned and carefully crafted your marketing efforts are, external elements are only a sneeze away to put a bug in the system.

Over these few unprecedented months, I have personally seen businesses fold, budgets dry up and projections cut. It’s all doom and gloom with lowered optimism and rising depression. I guess the only comfort (in a way) is knowing that no one is spared as the impact is far and wide across the entire world.

Lesson one is learned, yes? Fortunately, there is also another lesson from all of this:

Reaction is everything

Yeah, we’re down. But definitely not out. In this same few months, I’ve also seen businesses (and average folks) rise to the challenge. One of the clients I work with pivoted to a completely unfamiliar territory of selling face masks and PPEs – a reaction that was needed to keep salaries and overheads taken care of.

While most of us were ‘zooming’ during the lockdown, many people began their journey into online and social selling. I’ve been asked to join so many Facebook groups and pages that all I see in my newsfeed now are products that can be delivered to my doorstep. A small price to pay for supporting acquaintances I suppose.

Then there are those with reduced or sudden loss of income that have become e-hailing drivers, food deliverers, personal shoppers, home-based caterers, part-time bakers and the most novel yet – magician turned durian seller.

Such resilience, adaptability and dogged persistence is something that we can emulate as marketers.

Marketing Reaction

But first, you need to have a strong brand foundation, insightful market knowledge and a sound communication strategy that considers every aspect of your business. Because I am pretty sure the ones that are surviving in the face of the current adversity, are those who are firmly grounded and strong in character to begin with.

While click-through-rates or the number of likes and shares do provide great metrics, they are not the end all be all. Building a synergistic and holistic marketing blueprint – though time consuming and tedious – is an investment that all businesses must consider, especially in these lean and uncertain times. I know, budgets may be as slim as the government’s majority in parliament, but there are always methods to do more with less.

Granted, we may not see pre-Covid levels of economic activity for at least a year, or possibly two. So why bother? It may seem logical to take a cautious approach until things somewhat recover and only then start to pay attention to your marketing efforts again.

But while you rest, there may be others in your market segment that are building alternate lead generation, sales and fulfilment channels. They perhaps may be putting efforts into improving page rank by revamping and optimising their websites. Essentially, they could be seizing the opportunities that are abound in the digital, social and interactive ecosystems.

These efforts may not bear fruit now. But once the market is mask-free, those who made a head start will be the ones to reap the rewards first.

One of the largest pharmaceutical companies Pfizer just a couple of days ago announced that they have successfully concluded initial trials for a Covid19 vaccine. In fact, there are 8 other vaccines being developed independently by other countries and pharmas, all showing good promise.

It seems like it is only a matter of time before the pandemic ends – I know, this sound like bold optimism because we have acclamatised to all the doom and gloom.

Nevertheless, the question now is do we rest and recuperate or react and take charge?