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Frenemies on the Frontline

How Marketing & Sales Teams Can Challenge and Elevate Each Other

In the high-stakes arena of business, the sales and marketing teams often find themselves at odds, each guarding their territory with passionate fervor. Salespeople cherish their flexibility in tailoring pitches, believing that a broad value proposition allows them to seize any edge during negotiations. Marketing, however, tends to draw the battleground’s lines firmly — defining a value proposition that anchors the brand at a higher strategic level. 

While this dynamic seems like it could only lead to conflict (and in some businesses, it certainly does), there’s a way to embrace both these opposing views and provide greater success to the organization as a whole.

The Sales Perspective: “Custom” Is Part of “Customer”

For sales professionals, the magic often lies in the moment—reading a room, pivoting strategy based on real-time feedback and aligning with the prospect's immediate needs. This adaptability can feel stifled by marketing's more rigid frameworks, which aim to distill the company’s ethos into a digestible and consistent narrative. From the viewpoint of a seasoned salesperson, such constraints can sometimes feel like fighting with one hand tied behind their back, particularly when a prospect's interests lie just outside the defined boundaries of the existing marketing strategy.

The Marketing Angle: Consistency Breeds Brand Integrity

From the marketer’s desk, consistency is king. It's about crafting messages that resonate uniformly across all channels, creating a recognizable and reliable presence in a noisy marketplace. Marketing's strategic efforts ensure that every customer touchpoint reflects the core values and promises of the brand, reducing confusion and strengthening customer trust. For marketers, the frustration often comes when sales teams, in their zeal to close deals, stretch these well-defined boundaries, risking the brand's integrity for short-term gains.

Better Together

But before you assume these two groups will never get along or be able to work toward the same goal, see how you can use this tension to become even more effective. Marketing's constraints should push salespeople to innovate within set boundaries, fostering creativity and focus in customer interactions. As they embrace this structured approach, they’ll actually be building upon a foundation of trust and recognition that has been laid among prospects. In turn, the sales team will see the process and their conversion rates benefit as a result of prospects feeling more secure with the clear, consistent messages that echo through their buyer’s journey.

Meanwhile, sales feedback can provide marketing with invaluable insights into customer reactions and emerging market trends, helping refine future campaigns. 

From Silos to Synergy

But to have this kind of productive interplay, you have to have two things already in place.

  1. An organization built on a culture of collaboration
  2. A well-defined brand

In today’s modern business environment, no department exists alone. They all feed into each other, and the success of one is really dependent upon the help of another. So it’s imperative that you create an environment where each team is appreciated and respected. When open dialogue is encouraged, collaboration is seen as a given, and regular feedback sessions are arranged, you bridge understanding and foster a more integrated approach.

Secondly, none of this will get you anywhere if you don’t know who you are. That’s where your brand comes in. Regardless of which desk they sit at, all your people should have clearly in mind the organization’s identity, including attributes, values, customer perceptions and the like. A strong brand naturally provides boundaries — but it also establishes where flexibility can be utilized to address certain needs. Brand Innovation Group believes your brand shouldn’t restrict you into doing something the same way every time. Rather, it should give you the freedom to know when a different approach fits within your overall strategy (and when it doesn’t). That’s what we do for our clients.

So harness the tension between marketing and sales (and whatever other teams you have). Convert it from a destructive to a constructive energy. By turning potential internal conflicts into opportunities for growth and innovation, you’ll be better positioned to meet the challenges of today’s fast-paced market environments...and the annual holiday party won’t be as awkward.