Sales and Marketing – Navigating a Blurry Line

Today I ran across an interesting question on the CEB B2B Forum (subscription required), and wanted to share my response.

The Question:

Looking for a little advice/guidance.

Our organization is still fairly new to sales, having recently migrated to a sales & service model. As our company’s sales force matures, so does the level at which Marketing supports it.

We are open/collaborative, but there seems to be some inherent level of apprehension/distrust from our sales colleagues on the work we do.  We’ve been sharing our results consistently, but now sales leadership has requested project plans to document ongoing marketing optimizations.

How do others walk that line between INFORMING sales leaders about marketing tactics/strategies vs. asking permission? How do you tactfully explain that not EVERY project requires a full blown workplan, and that it’s not the job of sales to oversee marketing functions, but rather to work TOGETHER?

My response:

You could approach it by agreeing on a shared set of performance metrics (lead/month, lead follow-up times, pipeline progression, marketing-sourced deals and revenue) that you’ll review together on a regular cadence. These reviews should give Sales the confidence they need that Marketing is moving the needle, while also re-focusing them on the Sales behaviors they need to optimize to make sure the Marketing efforts pay off.

With their confidence in Marketing restored, and metrics telling them the Sales behaviors they need address, I doubt they’ll have time or interest in reviewing Marketing project plans for long.

I would still pair the regular reporting on shared metrics with an overview including:

  • Your takeaways from the reporting (trends, challenges and opportunities)
  • How you’re acting based on the data (high-level strategies)
  • New tactics you’re testing (so they know you’re continuing to innovate)
  • Promotions in the marketplace they should be aware of

Best wishes!

If you’re a CEB member, I’d recommend check out the other great responses to this very real-life challenge.