Although marketing and sales teams are always working toward the same goals, there is often friction between the two departments. Both teams are working to grow a customer base with the intention of increasing sales, and obviously, profit for the company that employs them. Even so, their approaches to business growth differ significantly and are usually the cause of the ongoing rift. Wouldn’t it be nice if both departments met in the middle? If they could just learn to work together, maybe business would be better than ever. That’s the hope, at any rate. So, as a business administrator, what can you do to begin the healing the process? Here are a few interesting things to try that have worked well for other businesses.
1. Begin at the Top
Since both teams are working to grow the business but from different vantage points, it’s up to administration to find ways to bring them together. Just because the administrator understands the sound principles of running a successful business, doesn’t mean that the department head or team leader has any formal training in leadership.
Administration has a clear view of the entire operation while looking down from the top. Sales and marketing teams only see their wedge of the pie. If their department doesn’t seem to be meeting expectations, it automatically tends to shift the ‘blame’ to the other team. It’s a highly competitive approach to growing a business and one that can be frustrating to the administrator who understands the benefits of working together for the common good.
2. Create Opportunities for Personal Growth
Many companies offer incentives for employees who want to advance in their careers. Some will pay for continuing education and others will match funds employees use for educational purposes, personal or business related. With this in mind, maybe companies could sponsor serious minded team leaders who are qualified to advance their Bachelor of Science degree to an MBA. It can be a costly proposition, but if it gives those department heads the ability to see the bigger picture, it would be worth it.
In fact, an MBA distance learning approach, if taken concurrently with the team leader of the ‘warring faction,’ both would be growing simultaneously in the same direction. Both professionals would be learning the benefits and ways of working together instead of against each other. Programmes such as the MBA – distance learning graduate courses at Aston University explore various business models and one of the most successful models is rooted in team mentality.
3. Host Social Activities Away from the Place of Employment
Sometimes both teams see exactly what is happening, but the long-time rivalry takes precedence over finding ways to work together. Hosting a social activity away from the place where that rivalry exists tends to make it possible to have a bit of fun as friends rather than to be opponents in a non-existent war. While you might want to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, it is suggested that you don’t make this event a training session or seminar.
Instead, why not host a night at a breakaway room where both teams need to work together to solve a mystery? No one likes to be a loser, so if they work together against other teams, they begin forging that bond so lacking before. It could be tickets to a football match, or it could be a night of dinner and dancing with the spouses or significant others. As long as it’s kept purely social, the enmity can begin fading.
4. Joint Meetings Once a Week
No matter what industry you are in, it is likely that you begin each day with a team meeting. Here, team goals are addressed so that each team begins working toward meeting their respective goals. Although sales and marketing work toward business growth, they have different ways of getting there. Many successful corporations have found that by bringing the teams together just one day of the week, they get a better look at how different personalities within each team have an impact on that team’s mentality.
This also provides an opportunity to meet separately with team leaders to discuss what you have witnessed and what they feel could help to ease the friction. At any rate, both teams get a chance to hear the other team’s goals. Before long, they just might finally understand that the only way to meet expectations seems to be finding a way to work together.
5. Remind Them It’s All About the Customer
One of the ways to manage this is to institute an interactive Customer Relationship Management system. If each team can follow customer-facing metrics from the other team, they may have suggestions that will help meet goals not being met. After all, each team interacts with customers on a different part of the customer journey, and they may have ideas for improving the CX.
Bear in mind that the customer experience is the combined total of how a customer perceives and thus interacts with a company. A ‘bad’ experience in either department could interfere with a positive overall experience and thus make it unlikely they will return for repeat business.
The Only Road to Success
Your key takeaway from all this is that customer acquisition (marketing) and customer retention (sales) are both necessary for the survival of a company. However, survival isn’t good enough in the world of business. Your owner, CEO, Board of Directors, or anyone else in administration is looking for growth.
Marketing teams see it as their job to grow a customer base, but that is also the mindset of sales. Marketing feel that it is their duty to continually attract new customers and sales feel that it is their responsibility to bring satisfied customers back for repeat business. In reality, both are true. Data analysis can track movement in either or both departments but what they will usually find is that both teams could use a bit of clarity and encouragement.