There are many articles out there — from advice on LinkedIn to academic research on the subject in the Harvard Business Review — on how to foster a positive and collaborative relationship between sales and marketing teams. And for good reason too. If your sales and marketing teams are not in lock step it frequently has a negative impact on a company’s bottom line.
When our colleagues at Government Technology Insider recently began an engagement with RedSeal they were impressed by the seamless working relationship of the sales and marketing leads on the engagement. Kimberly Baker, Senior Vice President and GM, Public Sector at RedSeal, and Lauren Stauffer, Director Federal Partners and Marketing at RedSeal, were enthusiastic about sharing what makes their relationship work and distilling advice to help other sales and marketing leaders get into alignment.
Having worked at large companies and small over her 30 year career, Baker noted that a good working relationship between the two teams is not a function of size. Rather, it is a matter of a shared commitment to a single goal. “Without a strong branding message that resonates with the marketplace, there isn’t much for sales to work with,” noted Baker. “Marketing warms up the prospect base and then flows the prospect into the sales pipeline. These two parts are connected by a shared strategic plan and understanding of the outcome.”
When asked what steps they and the team at RedSeal have put in place to drive collaboration between sales and marketing, Baker and Stauffer identified three key steps.
- Develop a Plan, Agree on Metrics, and Assign Roles
The foundation of their good working relationship for Baker and Stauffer is working from a common plan, which covers everything from messaging to activities and metrics. Their unified plan for the public sector is based on the corporate plan and then returned to the overall CMO for review, feedback, and incorporate the feedback. Then ensure that each group included in the plan agrees on their role in delivering on that success.
- Stay Connected
Be forewarned! The communication process doesn’t stop once the loop is closed on the initial plan. Staying connected on a regular basis is essential to success; for Baker and Stauffer this involves a weekly check-in on the metrics and other plan goals. While sales and marketing will communicate throughout the week, it’s important to dedicate time to a formal check-in on the plan to avoid meandering off course.
- Be Agile
While meeting regularly keeps all parts of the team focused on success metrics, it also provides the opportunity to adjust the plan if some element is not working. To stay the course even in the face of negative feedback from metrics, or because you’re invested in an idea has the potential to break the relationship between sales and marketing.
In the end, “we both have the same mission, we just have different ways of delivering success,” said Stauffer. “The idea of a different route to the same end reminds me of the different approaches people take to completing jigsaw puzzles,” she shared. “Some focus on finding the corners and the edge pieces, while others find the colors that go together. They’re doing very different tasks that require different skills and perspectives, but when the work is done collaboratively even the most complex puzzle can be completed far more efficiently because they’re focused on their part of the problem yet are constantly communicating.”