Wednesday, July 10, 2013

20 Tips to Bridge the Gap Between Sales and Marketing

In some businesses that are large enough to have separate sales and marketing departments, there can be, and too often is, tension between the two departments. This can occur for any number of reasons, but more often than not, the tension is the result of miscommunication, unfulfilled requests, and misunderstandings. However, the two departments have the same goal: an increase in both profits and satisfied customers.

As a marketer, I wanted to step into the shoes of some sales experts, so I recently asked for some perspectives from the other side of the aisle. I asked 20 sales experts this question: What one piece of sales advice would you give to marketing team members to either facilitate the sales process or improve the working relationship between sales and marketing teams?

Here are 20 tips to bridge the gap between sales and marketing – followed by Twitter handles:

Gary S. Hart (@SalesDuJour): Salespeople are marketing’s eyes and ears. They learn directly from the customer which marketing is effective and which is not. They learn what the customer wants and doesn’t want. They are a wealth of marketing research. So, marketers, embrace your salespeople and cultivate a mutually-beneficial relationship.

Jill Konrath (@jillkonrath): Review everything you create through the eyes of a prospect. Your opinion doesn’t matter – it’s only what customers think that matters.

S. Anthony Iannarino (@iannarino): Give salespeople the tools to nurture relationships in front of an opportunity. Don’t keep them behind the garden wall.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith (@CoachLee): People buy from people, not from glossy brochures or “fancy dancy” websites. Be authentic and get to know the person first. Your goal is to make a friend first, be valuable second, and this will allow you the opportunity to earn a sale.

Kelley Robertson (@Kel_Robertson): Invest more time asking questions so you can position your solution more effectively.

Mike Kunkle (@mike_kunkle): Spend a week with top sales reps who are working leads provided by marketing. Don’t just talk to the reps – but work with them and become involved in the process: making calls, sending emails, following up. See and feel what is and isn’t working firsthand.

Tibor Shanto (@TiborShanto): Marketers need to remember that they are part of a food chain, and as such, they should make sure that what they do can easily be handed off to sales – so that sales can do their part before they hand it off to the next link in the chain. Marketers should ensure that they enable sales “to get a firm grasp” to avoid slowdowns. The easiest way to achieve this is to establish an ongoing and two-way communication process.

Jeffrey Gitomer (@gitomer): Whether you are selling to a consumer or a business, whether you are selling on the phone or face-to-face, the process and the emotional involvement are the same. Someone wants to take ownership, and your job is to get them to visualize it, be engaged by you, agree with you, believe you, have confidence in you, trust you, accept your price, and pull the trigger.

Mike Weinberg (mike_weinberg): Please give me compelling, relevant, customer-focused talking points to help get a prospect’s attention. Help me get in the door.

Trish Bertuzzi (@bridgegroupinc): To know a man, you must walk in his shoes. Every marketer should spend at least one day a month following up on the leads he/she creates. Where the rubber meets the road in lead quality is in having real conversations with potential buyers.

David A. Brock (davidabrock): Everything the salesperson does must fundamentally address the issue of “What’s in it for the customer (individual and organization).” If we cannot answer that, then we are unprepared to pursue a business opportunity, to make a sales call, etc. If we ask ourselves that question before we target a customer, before we make a sales call, throughout the execution of our sales process, then we will increase our value and be focusing on customers that really want to buy.

Ian Brodie (@ianbrodie): Get your feet wet – jump into the pool. Don’t analyze things to death, act like sales and just “do.”

Ardath Albee (@ardath421): B2B marketers will build a better relationship with the sales team if the leads they provide are from accounts/companies that can actually buy from them. The right title and right industry may be great, but if the lead cannot buy, salespeople lose respect for marketing because their time is wasted. It’s time to tighten up lead scoring and make it a more valuable part of the process by including attributes from ideal customer profiles to flip the usual focus from quantity to quality.

Richard Ruff (@saleshorizons): Learn what information in what form salespeople need in order to influence each phase of the customer’s buying process.

Mark D. Synek (@MarkSynek): To make the relationship between sales and marketing a powerful force multiplier, grade both departments on some of the same metrics. It used to be that “sales” was all about a number, and “marketing” results were harder to quantify. Today’s marketing automation and lead generation tactics allow both teams to use SHARED GOALS that align the organizations more tightly.

Brad Hanson (@managementbrad): We need to stop selling and find a person with a problem.

Lisa Woods (@ManageAmericans): Use the customer’s words because that is what they listen to first.

Josh Lowry (Josh_Lowry): Here’s some advice to either the CMO or Vice President of Marketing: Stay close to sales. Measure everything and hold marketing accountable for the results delivered to sales. When you review your positive results with the CEO or Vice President of Sales, and the CEO asks the VP of Sales if he agrees with your contribution, unless he says, “Yes, I cannot hit my number without their great work,” you are not close enough to sales.

Babette Ten Haken (@babettetenhaken): Think twice before you trust your data. Ask yourself: Does it even make common sense?

Dave Stein (@davestei): Sales and marketing teams should collaborate to define what determines a qualified lead.

In the words of advertising and positioning gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout, there is definitely something that both sales and marketing teams can agree on: “The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind.” Hopefully, the insights provided in this post will help to bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams in your business so that owning a word in your prospect’s mind might happen for you!


Image Credit: Thanks to Ted Goff for use of his cartoon with this post. Check out Ted's work at

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.


  1. Hey Debbie, thanks for including me in the mix of so many respected sales experts. It's especially interesting to see so many focused on marketing and sales alignment and providing value from the customer's perspective. Maybe there's finally hope of Sales and Marketing playing together nicely, for the benefit of our customers. ;-)

  2. Debbie my appreciation as well for being included with these other notable sales experts. As the majority of businesses here in the US have under 20 employees, the old paradigm of marketing and sales being separate is very slowly dying and its death cannot come soon enough.

    Leanne Hoagland-Smith

  3. Thanks for this insightful information! Additionally, an integrated marketing multi-channeling campaign is an very effective approach to the success of lead generation services. It's also essential that the sales and marketing teams go beyond obtaining qualified leaders. They should also concentrate on following up with organizations to ensure that sales opportunities come through.


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