The 7 Common Mistakes in Sales + Marketing Collaboration


Sales and Marketing are two of the most customer-facing functions in any sales organization. As the key revenue-generators they are what a customer gauges the business on and they are the organization’s present and future growth engines.

So you would think that there can be no higher priority to the senior management team than to ensure these two vital teams work together as effectively as possible in order to present the best possible image to the market and to entice customers to buy from us, rather than from our competitors, right ?

Additionally, there is a whole lot of evidence that closer Sales + Marketing Collaboration lifts Sales Productivity, and I can show you that a lift of just 5% in Sales Productivity can yield a 20% increase in profit. So, Sales+Marketing Collaboration should be a BIG DEAL.

So, what stands in the way of getting Sales and Marketing teams to support each other more effectively ? The following is a collection of high level mistakes that we have compiled for you. Contact us for more detailed information.

Here are seven of the most common mistakes:

1. Ignoring the Problem, and Doing Nothing Instead

The worst mistake one can make is to turn a blind eye to problems. Yet, denying that there is a problem, that there is room for improvement, and merely accepting the status quo can magnify issues that would be otherwise manageable. For too many companies, sales and marketing departments are working in their respective silos, blissfully unaware of the need to adapt to the changing world that surrounds them. Too many organizations have taken this path and have suffered for it. How did Kodak miss the digital-camera revolution? How did Canon not see the threat from smartphones with in-built cameras?

Show initiative and leadership: fix the problem.

The 7 Common Mistakes in Sales + Marketing Collaboration

2. Relying on “Quick Fixes”

The world is increasingly impatient and our attention spans are becoming shorter. Combine that with the short term results outlook in many sales organizations and it is no wonder that when problems arise we look for quick fixes. However, shortcuts rarely work when it comes to sales and marketing collaboration. When sales reps do not make their targets, many organizations try to fix the problem with short-term solutions.

Let’s look at some of these “quick fixes”:

Provide more sales training

This is a popular panacea but according to the nineteenth-century German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, 87% of new knowledge is forgotten within 30 days. What do you think happens within 30 days after your sales training ends?

You need to provide ongoing coaching.

Hire more sales reps

The rationale for this popular choice is as follows: if X number of reps bring in Y amount of revenue, then more reps will bring in more sales. However, bringing more reps into a flawed sales and marketing environment will not yield the desired results.

Fix up your processes.

Generate more sales leads

Surely, this is the way to boosting sales results ? Well, it would be if all your sales lead creation and management processes were perfect, if sales and marketing were working harmoniously together to generate, nurture, hand over, close and report on leads perfectly. If that is not the case, why would you want to spend good money creating more leads only to see them dry up and lead nowhere thanks to a flawed process? Stuffing more leads into a flawed sales process will not resolve a sales effectiveness problem.

The best thing here is to fix the root cause, not merely the symptom.

3. Having no one responsible for improving Sales+Marketing Collaboration

Sales and marketing obviously need to work together. For such cooperation to be possible, cross-functional processes need to be in place to make sure that both sides are in alignment. Not having a intermediary in place to intermediate between Sales and Marketing is a gross oversight.

Get a referee.

The 7 Common Mistakes in Sales + Marketing Collaboration

4. Neglecting the Human Element

Collaboration is a deeply inter-personal matter, it relies on people doing the right thing. When attempting to foster a cooperative relationship between Sales and Marketing it is important to address the human dimension as a priority. Only then will it be appropriate to move on to HOW each department can support the other, what tools should support them or what joint processes and metrics we should use.

Know that your people must come first.

5. Believing that Technology will deliver a Miracle

I have nothing against technology, as long as it is deployed properly. It seems though that there are vendors out there that offer their latest whizz-bang technology by promising the world. It is pretty obvious that even the most sophisticated technology will remain ineffective if you don’t have your people and your business processes aligned first.

The technology works, but success is up to the people who use it.

The 7 Common Mistakes in Sales + Marketing Collaboration

6. Trying to implement Change without Executive Support

When change touches on aspects of corporate culture, implementing reforms can be an uphill battle. As laudable as it might be for middle managers or junior staff to attempt to make cultural changes, such optimistic projects are often doomed to failure unless they have executive buy-in.

Get the boss involved.

7. Expecting Immediate Results

Too often, we expect overnight results, and sometimes even that’s not fast enough. The fact is, any change must be given time to work its way through the system if it is to have any chance at producing the hoped-for results.



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