Slope Blog

How to Align Your Sales and Marketing Departments

[fa icon="calendar"] 5/8/18 3:30 PM / by Paul Kovalski

Arvind Gupta once said that “biology is the most powerful technology ever created.” It is a special thing when we are operating at full capacity. However, things can start to go downhill quickly when our parts of our body stop talking to each other.

You can probably surmise that I am making an analogy here. You would be right! Just like our body works together in concert to survive, our organization needs to work together to continue to grow and improve. When parts of our organization begin to operate in silos things can get messy real quick. When our incentives are not aligned we end up going in different directions.

The two most front facing teams of an organization are sales and marketing. We are the ones that are constantly in conversation with our customers. Why is it then that we often feel in isolation? It starts with incentives.



We’ve all watched a game where the announcer got a little bit too excited when a team scored. It’s easy to judge success on a football field when one team is playing another. It’s a bit more difficult when multiple teams are working in conjunction with each other.

Success for sales means hitting quota and bringing in a lot of business this quarter. Success for marketing means building brand in the long term. Sometimes the disconnect between the two looks like this:

“Marketing activities are difficult to measure, and therefore perceived as less important than easily measurable sales outcomes. Marketing generates lots of activity, but Sales doesn’t always see connections between those activities and revenue. Sales thinks Marketing is lightweight and easy, Marketing wonders why Sales cannot make its numbers.”

Does this sound like your organization?

The most obvious answer is to have a shared vision but that’s wishy washy and doesn’t result in actionable advice. Sales and Marketing will always have separate goals because they perform separate functions.

They simply need to understand each other better.

Start with the calendar

The first step in collaboration is actually collaborating (go figure). Take a look at the calendars of your marketing and sales teams. Where is their opportunity for shared insights? Are there meetings that sales can sit in with marketing that will help to inform their strategy or vice versa?

Sellers are on the phone all week and are having conversations at multiple stages in the sales funnel. If your content team is writing an article on a feature that a seller is demoing then sitting in on that call is mutually beneficial. The marketer gets real customer feedback and the seller can offer additional insights as well.

When they see each other at the coffee machine later in the week there is a new respect there that didn’t exist before! Marketers, conversely, spend a lot of time on specific campaigns. Whereas a seller may have multiple one hour time slots blocked off in a day a marketer’s calendar is less ‘busy’.

Ironically, much of the work of the seller is in sending white papers, case studies and articles over to prospects. Sitting in on just one of those campaign meetings helps marketers to write content that customers care about and helps sellers to feel part of the process. They are more likely to understand the long term goals of marketers if they sat in on some of the meetings where those goals were discussed.

Flexible responsibility

We are often taught to ‘stay in your lane’ and often our daily responsibilities support this mindset. However, a successful company is essentially a group of cars all heading to the same destination. If you’ve ever been on one of these road trips you will know that when one person needs to use the bathroom EVERYONE needs to use the bathroom.

Hockey stick growth is sustained by flexibility and the willingness of employees to accept new responsibilities. How can you do this? Turn marketers into sellers and sellers into marketers.

One of the smartest things I did as an SDR at AdRoll was to write a guest post for their blog. I got a chance to work with our marketing manager and learn about his uploading process. This is something that should be encouraged more whether it be getting a single seller to write a blog post or a more scalable campaign involving multiple sellers. It not only helps set the sales team apart as thought leaders but also diversifies your portfolio of content.

Marketers should be doing some selling too!

I’m confident that the majority of readers here have not had anybody from their marketing team attend a calling clinic or pitch practice. Why? Because performing in front of your peers is scary! Sellers hone their skills by having chat after chat until they are blue in the face. Asking the right discovery questions, handling objections effectively, and moving the sale along are all skills that are developed by practicing as much as possible.

Marketers can learn a lot from this by sitting in on even a monthly training. Not only will they become more empathetic to the difficulties sellers have in dealing with clients, but they will be able to spot out certain hold ups that are delaying a sale from going through.

All in the same boat

I hope you aren’t tired of metaphors. Getting sales and marketing teams working together not only helps to acquire more customers but can retain them as well. In fact, tightly aligned teams can result in 38% higher sales win rates and 36% higher customer retention rates as well. For a multi million dollar org that’s real dollars!

It’s time to stop thinking of sales and marketing as isolated departments doing different jobs. Recognizing the reality of their job functions and creatively instituting opportunities for collaboration will increase employee happiness, help you better understand your customer, and bring in the revenue.

Paul Kovalski

Written by Paul Kovalski

Paul is a content marketer that has worked with mid market and enterprise companies to help amplify their message and develop deeper relationships with their customers.