8 Ways to Resolve Conflict Between Your Sales and Marketing Teams

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8 Ways to Resolve Conflict Between Sales and Marketing Teams

In the perfect world, your sales and marketing teams will work together in harmony. However, this is not always the case. There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. But, I have seen far too many times that sales and marketing teams will create conflict out of nothing. Often times the teams will play the “blame game”, where they blame each other if they don’t meet their quota.

Your B2B marketing team is responsible for generating leads for your B2B business. On the other hand, your sales team takes the leads, works their sales magic, and hopefully closes the sale. Sales and marketing teams work closely, but at the same time not close at all.

Since your sales team drives all the revenue and your marketing team drives all the leads, they go head-to-head over who is more important and who is doing their job correctly. The sales team complains about poor leads and your marketing team complains about low close rates.

But having your sales and marketing teams bicker about their value isn’t productive. In fact, it can build animosity and a toxic work environment. Further, when your two teams don’t work together effectively, your revenue is on the line.

Know that conflict between sales and marketing teams is common. That’s why we’re here to outline 8 tried-and-true methods for getting your teams working together again.

Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams at War?

Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams at War?

The war between sales and marketing has been so prevalent for years that even The Harvard Review wrote an article on the matter. It seems to be a tale as old as time: sales and marketing teams arguing over which tasks are most important and who does them best.

Perhaps you’ve seen the signs already. Passive-aggressive emails. Bickering in your Slack channels. Disagreements about marketing, lead nurturing, and sales practices. A war is brewing.

Why the conflict? Here are some possible reasons why your two teams aren’t seeing eye to eye.

Potential Areas of Conflict Between Sales and Marketing Teams:

Lack of Communication

If your sales and marketing teams exist as stand-alone departments, it could be that their issues come down to lack of or poor communication. When there’s not much overlap between departments, it can be hard for teams to communicate, collaborate, and work together productively. This has been even more prevalent due to many companies having to shift to hybrid work or fully at working from home.

Luckily, there are definitely some solutions out there that can help your team communicate better than emails. The first solution is a video conferencing software, like Zoom. I’m sure you have heard of Zoom by now, but setting up daily or weekly meetings should be an integral part of your business. I find it helpful for team leaders or managers to meet at least a few times a week, so they can keep their teams all on the same page, and then (depending on the size of your teams) you can meet once a month to go over what everyone individually has done. This is a great chance for everyone to reconvene and go over goals. It’s helpful to have a manager running the meeting so it goes smoothly, and they can appropriately handle any concerns that may come up. The second solution that I have found extremely helpful is Slack. I find a lot of companies that are currently using Slack are not using it to its full potential. You can create multiple groups, themes, and even GIFs for your company to stay connected. It’s a lot quicker and more convenient than email, and more professional than texting. Plus, it can be downloaded to your phone and work computer so you can stay in touch with teams that may work different shifts. Did I mention that both Zoom and Slack are free?

Role Confusion

There are many tasks that could fall under both the “sales” and “marketing” umbrellas, such as strategizing, lead follow-up, and relaying messages to different departments. If your team members aren’t sure who does what, there can be redundancies, or (on the flip side) tasks getting overlooked by both teams.

If you have a lot of team members that have been with your company for a long time, this can be difficult to resolve. It can be helpful to set up one-on-one or team meetings to go over your expectations. If your team has a bad attitude, then set up strict expectations that they must follow or there will be consequences. It’s not fair that one sore loser ruins the whole team atmosphere.

Unclear Goals

When both teams work toward a shared goal, most likely revenue-related, it’s easier for them to work together. If it’s unclear what the end goal is, or if each team has their own goals, which are not aligned with each other, it can create conflict and inefficiencies.

Goals can be a tricky topic. Again, the sales and marketing teams love to play the blame game for who is responsible for missing goals. This is why it’s so important for your goals to be trackable. A great way to monitor your company’s goals is by following the S.M.A.R.T. method. By using this method, even if your teams do fall short, they will be able to figure out where they may have fallen short. Then, next time they will be able to meet or exceed their goals.

Too Much Competition

Your B2B marketing team wants more budget to create more marketing materials and launch new ad campaigns. Your sales managers want more budget for helpful sales tools and training. If the budget is limited, both teams will compete in order to get what they want. This can lead to stress, resentment, and even jealousy.

How do you fix this? Keep it fair, but also with growth in mind. Every business will have different goals and where they want to spend their budget. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the more marketing your team does, then the more work the sales team will need to do in order to follow up with the leads. If one budget goes up, it can be a good idea to try and raise the others. In addition, listen to your teams and see their reasoning for wanting a budget. Don’t forget to include your accountant in on this to ensure you’re on the right track!

Personality Differences

Each department tends to attract different types of people. Salespeople tend to be charismatic and relationship-focused. Marketers, on the other hand, are typically more analytical and methodical. These personality differences can lead to misunderstanding and tension, almost as if your teams are speaking different languages.

As mentioned previously, your marketing and sales managers should be meeting regularly. This will help them come to an understanding, and then they will be able to communicate with their respective teams. Although this can be a difficult situation, finding a place in the middle of the two communication styles will result in less stress and more productivity.

Conflicting Strategies

Each team will have their own ideas for what will work to help grow your company. For your marketing team, this could mean a push for more social media content; for sales, a more targeted lead generation campaign.

If teams disagree on the best course of action, this can lead to major conflict. Stagnation, bottlenecks, pipeline gaps, and ineffective campaigns are all possible side effects of teams not seeing eye to eye on strategy.

How do you solve this? Well, why would you allow two conflicting strategies to compete for the same goal? To put in bluntly, it just won’t work. After all, this is your business on the line. A great alternative to this is to try one strategy at a time, along with initiatives that will complement it. Next quarter, try out the second strategy. Then, compare the two. This will allow you to see which one worked better, and how you should move forward. Although the strategies conflict, you’ll never know what is better until you try both.

Benefits of Sales and Marketing Working Together

Benefits of Sales and Marketing Working Together

You now know some possible reasons why your teams may not be working well together, and what can happen if this conflict is left unchecked.

But what does it look like when sales and marketing DO work together effectively?

Better Communication

When your sales and marketing teams work together effectively, you can expect better communication, fewer misunderstandings, and less tension. Both teams will enjoy coming to work and working together. An enjoyable workplace increases productivity and collaboration.

Increased Collaboration

If you effectively resolve the major conflicts between your teams, it makes it easier for your marketers and salespeople to collaborate, work toward shared goals, and problem-solve. Every team should have a give-and-take scenario. If one team takes too much, there will be less time and resources for the other, which will negatively affect their results.

More Effective Strategies

Sales and marketing CAN work together as a unit. With better collaboration, it will be easier to make the connection between the marketing strategy that’s bringing in leads and the sales strategy that’s closing them. Then, the process can work like a well-oiled machine.

Higher ROI

Inefficiencies between your teams can eat up your budget. When both departments work together, there’s a higher likelihood that your campaigns will work and generate a solid return on investment, or ROI, versus budget going to waste.

Less Stress and Animosity

A low-stress work environment is better for everyone. Your employees will take less time off, and they will actually enjoy coming to work. When they enjoy it, they will work harder for you. It’s time to put jealousy, animosity, and tension to rest for good.

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8 Effective Strategies for Resolving Conflict Between Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Effective Strategies for Resolving Conflict Between Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Ready to end the war between your sales team and your marketing team?

Implement some or all of the 8 effective strategies below to get both departments working together efficiently, without the tension.

1. Define the Roles of Each Department in Your Organization

One of the leading causes of conflict between sales and marketing teams is role confusion. To prevent this issue, you’ll need to redefine roles and make sure each department understands what their responsibilities are. 

Outline what your expectations are for each role. Establish which KPIs (key performance indicators) will be measured and who each team member is accountable too. You can even cross-train team members so they grow to have a greater appreciation for what the “opposite side”does.

Every person on each team should know who does what, who they need to report to, what their responsibilities are, and how success will be measured. This will prevent redundancies and team members dropping the ball and saying “That isn’t my job“.

2. Outline the Benefits of Both Teams Working Together

Sometimes your sales and marketing teams will see things in terms of competition. They support their own team members and are in it to secure their share of budget. They may not see the benefits of working together.

Your job then is to communicate why collaboration is important. As the boss, you need to be aware of how time is being spent and whether your budget is being put to good use. You can then share with both teams that collaboration is essential when it comes to cutting down on conflict, wasted time, and wasted money.

Further, collaboration helps both teams come together to provide a better experience for your potential and existing clients.

3. Create a Cohesive Sales/Marketing Strategy

Your sales and marketing teams should not work as two stand-alone entities. They are two parts of a whole. Without marketing, your sales team won’t have leads. Without a sales team, your marketing team won’t have the feedback they need in order to improve their campaigns. Therefore, your business growth strategy must have both components.

In communicating this to both teams, your strategy may look something like this:

  1. Marketing team creates marketing strategy based on existing sales data.
  2. Marketing team generates leads via marketing campaigns.
  3. Team receives leads.
  4. Sales team offers marketing team feedback on lead quality.
  5. Sales team closes new clients/deals.
  6. Team generates revenue to be funneled into future marketing campaigns.
  7. Marketing team uses new sales data and feedback to fine-tune marketing campaigns.

Each team plays a crucial role in this process. When both work together, your entire business growth strategy becomes more efficient and effective.

4. Improve Sales and Marketing Communication

Miscommunication between departments is nothing new but can be resolved with the right approach and tools.

First, by outlining the roles from the beginning, people will have a better idea of who to reach out to if they need help with a particular issue. Make sure their contact information is readily available.

Second, you can use team collaboration tools like Slack or Asana to keep departments working together. They can chat in real-time, assign each other tasks, share resources, and much more. 

5. Create a Central Knowledge Base to Share Resources

A knowledge base is a centralized system for collecting, organizing, and distributing resources. By creating one for your B2B business, you make it so much easier for teams to share information and content across departments.

There are tons of knowledge base tools and software options available online. You can use these as a way for team members to add important documents (like client files, marketing materials, analytics reports, etc.) or access existing docs in real-time. This ensures that everyone has what they need when they need it.

6. Be Proactive in Resolving Conflicts Between Departments

Don’t just let conflict stew. Take action as soon as you see tension arise. A biting remark or a passive-aggressive email presents opportunities for you to ask “What isn’t working? How can this be fixed?” instead of waiting for things to blow up.

As the person in charge, you’re in the position to nip tension in the bud as soon as you spot it. You can ask for clarification, offer solutions, and help your teams problem-solve before they resort to name-calling or throwing staplers. Again, meetings with both teams is an essential part of successful collaboration. If you can stay on the same page, your business will run so smoothly.

7. Encourage Cross-Department Problem-Solving

Sometimes issues arise that require an interdepartmental solution.

Your sales team may want better leads, which is a task for the marketing team. Your marketing team may want feedback on how their marketing campaigns are paying off, which could be aided by the sales team.

Use meetings as opportunities to encourage cross-departmental problem-solving. Set aside time for both teams to work together to resolve their issues. You may be (pleasantly) surprised by what they come up with. Another great idea is to set up casual meetings, coffee chats, grabbing a drink after work, etc. This can help your teams get to know each other, which will make communication at work a lot easier.

8. Offer Incentives for Collaboration

Set shared goals and then reward everyone when they achieve these goals. When your sales and marketing teams learn that working together means massive rewards, they’ll be less likely to compete with each other.

It doesn’t have to be an “us vs them” situation. Collaboration can pay off both in terms of rewards from upper management and commissions on an increase in revenue.

Help Your Sales and Marketing Teams Overcome Challenges Through Collaboration

Using the 8 strategies above, you can help dissipate the most common challenges sales and marketing teams face. Tension, miscommunications, jealousy, and inefficiency can arise when your teams don’t work together effectively. You can nip those issues in the bud right now.

Encourage your sales and marketing teams to work together, collaborate, work toward common goals, and support each other throughout the process. In doing so, you’ll reduce stress in the workplace and help your business grow. Win-win-win!

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Written by

Nick Hollinger | CEO

I am the CEO and Co-founder of Visitor Queue. Currently working with ~5000 companies across the globe including Microsoft and Jones Lang Lasalle. In my spare time, I am also the Game Day Director for one of Canada's most successful Junior Hockey Teams (the London Knights). Previously, I held Head of Marketing/Sales roles at SMB B2B organizations. A strong believer that hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. I enjoy sharing my knowledge, experience, and opinion on Marketing, Sales, SaaS, and Entrepreneurship.

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