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Integrate sales and marketing to focus your efforts

Integrating marketing and sales is a valuable process for companies to keep lead generation and nurturing productive. Many organizations look for a quick fix such as sharing data sources or changing incentive plans without looking at the whole picture. Instead, create a plan to address a complex set of barriers. Here are some ideas to

Start with common ground

I suggest starting the integration process with common ground: leads. Begin by identifying who is charged with defining types of leads. Your company can form a task force to agree upon a definition of a lead, lead prioritization, information to be captured, and when the hand off to sales will happen. In doing so, both organizations must recognize they have a common goal — to facilitate the buying process.

Bring in qualified people from each part of the process, not just top-level executives. The sales representatives who are in direct contact with prospects and customers provide valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t. Plus their direct involvement encourages buy-in. Those in marketing who execute the plans have the experience with the overall marketplace and corporate strategy. Having them on-board also provides an opportunity to directly hear and respond to the results of their efforts.

Encourage cooperative team members

At times there is finger-pointing between marketing and sales, and the unspoken habit they each have of “looking down” on one another. Is it myth or fact that the two groups think differently, act differently and approach the customers with very different points of view?

True or not, you can integrate these cultures by having both marketing and sales both report to the same department head. Just by working side-by-side, with joint department meetings and problem-solving teams, helps break down barriers that no new technological fix could achieve. Managers should look out for the personalities who actively cooperate and encourage them by mentoring, increased responsibility and reward.

Develop prospect and customer messages together

Training on joint messaging development for both sales and marketing pays off. Independent messages cause chaos, internal conflict, bad service, and duplicate expenses. When departments come together to create a common approach to working with prospects, the company benefits directly with time savings, cost savings, and a better-informed customer base.

Set up incentives for actions that boost integration

To help change attitudes and actions, reward behavior that increases collaboration.

Set up incentives to marketing for:

  • interviewing prospects and customers consistently to produce better marketing messages
  • going on sales calls to keep up-to-date on what tools are needed for demonstrating, proposing and closing sales

Set up incentives to sales for:

  • reporting back on the results of sales leads from marketing to show what works and what doesn’t
  • following up with prospects with a longer buying cycle so previous leads are not abandoned prematurely

Take one step at a time

You know if you do nothing, there is little hope for improvement. By taking small steps to address the big picture of needed changes, you can be assured of making great strides. Sales and marketing integration needs an evolution, not a revolution. Take a long-term view. One step at a time will get you there.

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For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com