Anyone who has been caught in the cross-hairs of a sales vs. marketing skirmish won’t contest its place on a list of the greatest rivalries of all time. In one corner we have sales, a group whose livelihood depends on the commissions they’ll earn by selling to individual customers in the immediate future.
In the other corner we find marketing, a salaried team focused on reaching a broad market and achieving long-term brand success. Is it any wonder that the two regularly come to blows? The conflict may be familiar, but it’s also costly.
Aberdeen Research reports that companies that are best-in-class at aligning marketing and sales enjoy an average of 20% growth in annual revenue. Laggard organizations, in the meantime, experience a 4% decline in annual revenue.
When sales and marketing bury the proverbial hatchet, they enjoy shorter sales cycle, better overall ROI, easier marketing attribution, and happier customers. Like most of the problems that modern marketing encounters, a commitment to Agile processes and principles can help solve the sales/marketing alignment conundrum.
Here I’ll walk you through some general benefits that an Agile mindset offers, as well as more specific tactical tools Agile teams can use to increase sales and marketing cooperation.
Causes of Sales and Marketing Conflict
Writing in The Harvard Business Review, Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham, and Suj Krishnaswamy argue that the basis of the sales and marketing battle lies with their differing perspectives:
When it comes to day-to-day execution, the salespeople tend to think that marketing is simply doing the wrong work. Brand awareness, content marketing, social media engagement—these long-term marketing initiatives are unlikely to create immediate sales, but they’re nonetheless key to a successful marketing strategy.
Similarly, both teams squabble over the quality and quantity of leads that come in. From a sales perspective, marketing isn’t bringing in enough leads, or the ones coming in are so far from a purchase that they’re practically useless for a salesperson.
Marketing has to balance its short-term lead quotas with strategic objectives that are harder to track, meaning marketers often feel pulled in opposing directions with no guidance on prioritization.