I spent much of my young life on a baseball diamond, and after experiencing both the highs of championships and lows that were not dissimilar from the Bad News Bears, I noticed one ironclad pattern: Championship teams are united.
There are two modalities through which baseball can be understood. Many are of the belief that baseball is an individualistic sport, where one batter is facing one pitcher at a time. There is no collaboration—if the batter gets a hit, he considers himself successful, regardless of what the next batter does. When asked how the game went, these players typically recap their own performance before the teams (i.e., “I played well, but we lost”).
Then there’s the opposing view, which considers baseball the most mentally collaborative sport there is. Sure, only one player hits at a time, but that’s simply their small contribution towards the team’s larger goal of propelling past the competition. One batter can approach his at-bat strategically to set the next batter up for increased odds of success. Lineups can be organized to give the team as a whole the best odds of driving in more runs. Trick plays and sacrifices are critical to winning tight contests. These players are much more focused on the final outcome than their own statlines.
Which perspective do you think brings home more trophies?
The relationship between baseball teammates is eerily similar to that of sales and marketing professionals, but unfortunately, the latter is prone to a less symbiotic existence. In fact, recent research from Aberdeen has found that 92% of companies experience below-average conversion rates in at least one part of the sales funnel due to marketing and sales friction. This friction comes from the “individual” mindset, where sales adheres to their own metrics, and marketing theirs. Not to mention it’s costly, both in time and pipeline.
It’s time for this line of thinking to die. Championships are won through collaborative effort, and in order for your organization to get—or stay—ahead for the long haul, sales and marketing must partner as players on the same team.
In this blog, I’ll outline 5 benefits of strengthening your organization’s sales and marketing partnership that will hopefully encourage you to take action today.
1. Enhanced Customer Experience
The customer experience is the heartbeat of any functioning organization, and by focusing marketing and sales on collaboration, the main benefactor is the customer. Nothing frustrates (or loses) prospects more quickly than an irrelevant piece of content or a lack of fluidity between touches. Without establishing a single plan of engagement between sales and marketing teams, the overarching brand appears disorganized and impersonal.
2. Better (and More) Qualified Leads
I’m willing to bet there are very few salespeople who haven’t, at least once, muttered “marketing isn’t getting me ANY leads!” even though they’ve been handed dozens, if not hundreds. The problem may be the fact that marketing’s KPIs revolve around quantity, rather than quality of qualified leads. By establishing a strong lead-scoring method through a collaborative process, the guesswork is removed from identifying quality leads and, as a result, better leads come through more quickly and in higher volumes.
3. Clear Feedback Channels
By establishing a strong relationship, sales and marketing not only unify their rules of engagement but warrant continued communication through cross-departmental feedback. Establishing an open line of communication creates the opportunity for further refinement of strategy down the line. Sales feels comfortable asking marketing to refine their criteria for quality leads, and marketing can, in turn, ask sales to alter their style of outreach to prospects. The more receptive each team can be to suggestions, the closer they get to becoming one team.
4. Adherence to High-Level Strategy/Mission
Just like the baseball players who only worry about their own performance, it’s tempting for sales and marketing teams to get hyper-focused on their own metrics. While not inherently bad, this creates a risk of missing the forest for the trees, and worse, could succeed at the expense of other teams. If sales has tunnel vision around their opportunities and bombard them with content, they may unintentionally sacrifice marketing’s efforts to nurture the account slowly. And as mentioned earlier, marketing can fall victim to overvaluing the number of leads they handoff, at the expense of quality. This is where the leadership team must set the tone for the entire company: the goals they establish for their individual teams must incorporate the organization’s overall mission in order to encourage each team to help rather than hinder their counterparts.
5. Better Holiday Parties
This is only slightly a joke. What company hasn’t benefited from employees getting along? The momentum of a harmonious partnership between revenue-driving teams trickles into nearly every facet of the job. Connecting as human beings—not just employees—establishes trust and positivity in all work objectives and should be prioritized from the C-suite down. A positive work environment is one of the most contagious catalysts of performance, and it’s cost-free.
The most successful teams I played for in my baseball career were not always the most talented but played with their teammates’ best interests in mind. Talent and individual successes can only take an organization so far; it takes a level of chemistry and unity to separate the good from the great in sports and business alike. Regardless of your current size or structure, aligning sales and marketing as one revenue-driving unit can provide a tremendous ROI and jump-start the positive culture needed for long-term success. It’s easy to get started today and should be seen as a perennial priority for companies looking to win.