The Push-Pull Relationship Of Sales And Marketing: Success Starts At The Top

Kay Kienast

The Push-Pull Relationship Of Sales And Marketing: Success Starts At The Top

My previous article reviewed the push-pull relationship of business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams. This relationship may be due to factors like the changing dynamics of the internet-driven buying process, disparities between goals and key performance indicators (KPIs), a contrast in the sizes of the sales and marketing teams, and differences in long-term versus short-term planning and strategy.

While the push-pull nature between sales and marketing can benefit from fostering better communication and learning how to reach an agreement, leveling the playing field will be a difficult journey without the support of top leadership.

At True Influence, we have established a set of best practices with the CEO of our company, Brian Giese, who understands that marketing and sales can work together if the common goal is customer success. His perspective is that, when sales and marketing leaders have a shared priority of putting customers first, it prompts collaboration toward the higher goal.

If you’re looking for tips on how your sales and marketing teams can cooperate better, consider the following initiatives. As chief marketing officer for our company, I’ve worked with Brian over the years to develop these tips based on the guidance he has provided to both our sales and marketing teams:

  • Know your customer. Knowledge of the customer is critical when recalibration is needed to resolve disputes between marketing and sales. Focus on what is best for the customer, and the way to a solution should become clear.
  • Recognize that sales and marketing are equals. Each group has decision-making power based on utilizing their budgets wisely. They will likely have respect for each other if they have respect from a CEO who treats them equally.
  • Develop a weekly communication plan. Ongoing dialogue is paramount to ensuring everyone is on the same page. Sales and marketing leaders should meet weekly, with the CEO stepping in as needed to be the peacemaker.
  • Plan sales and marketing budgets together. Visibility into how and why the other’s budget is constructed helps reinforce the validity of both teams and their missions and demystifies the reasoning behind certain decisions. At the same time, look for ways that sales and marketing KPIs can complement, not contradict, each other.
  • Create a customer advisory board. Having a customer advisory board is a great way to receive real-time market feedback. Take it a step further with ongoing meetings and communication between customers, product marketing, marketing and sales to facilitate agile development cycles. Again, keeping the focus on customers can go a long way toward resolving disputes when they arise.
  • Allow facts to guide decisions. Does it make sense to do a podcast if podcasts are not among your top 10 lead generators? Should you pay for a booth at a trade show with attendees who don’t match your target audience? Probably not, and company leadership should let the facts steer such decisions.
  • Implement a tight reporting system. It’s imperative to hold everyone accountable. Shine the light on revenue numbers, leads generated, leads followed up by sales and lead status in the pipeline. If the numbers are falling short, discuss why, and brainstorm possible solutions together without an accusatory tone.

We have implemented these initiatives at True Influence with great success. It’s not always easy, but it’s well worth the effort to get your marketing and sales teams in alignment and working toward a shared goal of customer success. But don’t forget, to be successful, the initiative must begin with — and remain guided by — your company’s leadership.

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