By Liam McNally, Head of Education

Yes, it’s still happening…

If you’ve ever worked in a marketing or sales team where one department doesn’t blame the other, then I’m jealous, very jealous!

Marketing cry out that sales never follow up the leads, sales despair that the lead quality was so poor it should never have entered the sales ready funnel. Sound familiar?

But why do we work in a culture where sales and marketing are unable to align?

Across industries and organisations of all sizes, from SME to blue chip, there is a silo mentality within these teams. Often, the teams are part of two separate departments or teams; they rarely come together as a single driving force of growth within their respective organisations. A lack of communication and insight into each other’s worlds makes it all too easy to assign blame for what is perceived as the other team’s shortcomings. Maybe it’s something that can be changed overnight, maybe not, but here are my three takeaways for bringing sales and marketing much closer together.


Understand sales need marketing

Come to terms with the fact that the sales team alone don’t deliver the best possible return on investment. A sales-oriented business is great for short-term wins, but not sustainable for longer term growth. Being market-oriented (totally customer focused) requires the insight and skill from a range of disciplines that are quite often found in a marketing team.

Think of this scenario – a call is a great way to deliver a brand message directly to a prospective customer, but it has so much more weight when the prospect can recall the brand from a distant campaign, or in fact they can recall the brand from a very recent (personalised and targeted) campaign because they are already partially engaged! This can’t happen without sales and marketing working hand-in-hand to profile the potential customer universe and create relevant multichannel communications to reach the audience.


Service leads like you would customers

Marketing, sales and customer service teams (and their relevant department heads) need to collaborate more effectively, taking further ownership of building complementary strategies to help overcome the often poor treatment of leads.

Generating a quality lead – whether that be outbound or inbound – requires a lot of budgetary and human resource, yet all too often the teams involved don’t map out prospective customer journeys to ensure a quality and consistent nurture strategy to help move the customer along their path-to-purchase.


Structure the teams to work together

Starting is easier said than done, but the logical point is to go from the top. Sales and marketing directors have to be in agreement for this to work – ultimately both teams don’t have to report to the same person, but both teams must be working to the same set of objectives and using the same language for both departments to succeed.

Once the teams are speaking the same language and communicating effectively (I think I’ll need a separate blog for that one!), then each part needs to be working to the same plan.

Fundamentally, marketing need to generate leads and sales need to service them to a point where a transaction takes place. Rather than a number of complicated processes and separate funnels, it’s easier to simplify and refine operations into a single sales funnel. In this example, marketing fill the funnel with leads generated across a range of channels (the ones most relevant to your audience) and as the funnel narrows sales professionals are added as new channel, their objective is to define and manage opportunities to a point where they become customers.

My own view

On a personal level, as someone who works for a company that helps to solve sales and marketing challenges, this scenario is all too familiar. Poor alignment of sales and marketing objectives, married with the mistreatment of prospective customers is the biggest challenges facing educational institutions today in trying to attract learners and grow their employer engagement portfolio. Until sales and marketing start collaborating more effectively I feel there will be a more unfilled apprenticeship vacancies and a few empty seats in lectures theatres!

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