Early on in my marketing career, I devised wonderful (or so I thought) ways of communicating with the sales team. Every Friday, for example, I’d send out an email with links to new sales presentations, brochures, website updates, campaigns, social media – the list goes on. And on. At the same time, I shared a detailed campaign plan for each campaign to avoid process errors in campaign execution and to ensure each party involved in the campaign understood his or her responsibilities.
I believe I had good intentions to open up better communications paths through both vehicles. But both fell flat because the sales team rarely read them.
What I learned from this approach is that while all of the details were important to me and my team, they were NOT SO MUCH to sales. Why? Because marketing and sales team members usually have very different communications styles,which include “Relator,” “Socializer,” “Thinker” and “Director.” Of course we all exhibit a bit of each style depending on the circumstances. But at work, I fall primarily into the latter two categories, as did most people on the marketing team. We analyzed every detail, communicated efficiently through email and documents, and emphasized how to achieve results. The sales team members, on the other hand, were primarily “Relators” and “Socializers” – excellent listeners and relationship builders. They too were interested in results, but not necessarily in the steps we took to achieve them.
After some exasperation that the written wisdom we were distributing was not being read, I finally realized that marketers would rather communicate through writing and learn through reading; and sales team members would rather communicate through talking and learn through listening.
Tips for Communicating with the Sales Team
Here’s what I now find are more effective ways of communicating with sales teams:
Meet, greet and train. As a marketing leader, get up in front of the entire sales team at the largest sales team meeting, introduce your marketing staff and tell sales how to find the information they need. Pick up the phone when you’re apart, meet in person when you’re in the same location and socialize during all-company meetings.
Avoid email. Can I say this enough? Use a central storage area in which to put all new and revised sales tools; highlight anything that’s changed and the date of the change. If you must send email, keep it short and sweet, with no attachments or links.
Summarize. Create one-page summaries for any complex documents such as campaign plans. Keep detailed campaign plans within the marketing department for campaign execution details and historical reference.
Be one team. Foster the idea that you and sales have the same goals, regardless of reporting structure. Before you launch a campaign, go over the summary with all participants in person or via a webcast. After the campaign, go over results together.
Display. Create an easy-to-read dashboard for the campaign calendar and campaign results.
Coordinate. Align in how you are using the CRM system. This will help avoid any miscommunication around customer segmentation, where customers stand in the sales funnel and the interpretation of campaign results.
Lead. Hold regular meetings, marketing leader to sales leader. Ensure you have a strong relationship that allows you to share expertise with each other and work together to improve results.
It may seem like marketing has to bend a little more to accommodate the sales team, but keep this in mind: sales keep an organization afloat, and the marketing staff, along with everyone else in the company, depends on the sales team’s success. Marketing directly fuels sales, so feel proud of your department’s impact on and relationship with the sales team.
Is your marketing staff disconnected from your sales staff, resulting in lackluster sales performance? We can help put communications processes and templates in place to bridge the gap between these important teams!