5 things sales hates about marketing (and how to make them better)

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. We speak to those with experience on the dark side to understand how marketers can stay ahead of the game

Sanctimony aside, the sales and marketing relationship is one fraught with frustrations – whether they're aired or not. These disagreements are simply a result of each individual trying to succeed; for their bosses, teams, families, and so on. In the long run, though, success is most commonly found when a goal of customer-centricity is shared – as the A4 bunting in my school hall read, Together Everybody Achieves More.

Bearing that incredibly annoying motivational acronym in mind, here are the five gripes sales has with marketing, and what the latter can actually do about them.

1. Marketing delivers low-quality leads

This is perhaps both the most common and pressing of all sales’ complaints, but one that Wiktor Lyczko, CEO and co-founder of TheLeadWay.com, believes he has a solution for, with the aid of a sales accepted lead definition (SAL). 

“To create an SAL," says Viktor, "sit down with your sales team and ask them the following questions: ‘What type of customer is the most desirable?’, ‘What information do you need to start the sales process?’ and ‘What has to happen in a customer’s company to sure-fire your sale?’ But remember: you need to explain to sales that a lead doesn’t necessarily mean a sale – it’s just a very good beginning of the sales process.” 

If sales accepts an SAL definition, ‘marketing delivers low-quality leads’ becomes moot.

2. Marketing doesn’t understand customers like we do

In many cases, sales is probably right. Duty calls for a salesperson to be close to their customers; it’s natural they know a lot about them. The problem here is that marketing can lose authority.

“Marketing needs to know customers better than sales,” says Viktor. “Run research into the customer buying cycle journey to discover personas, phases, touchpoints, customers’ information needs, triggers and stoppers. After that, you should prepare a content matrix, which displays all information needed by a customer during his or her buying cycle.” 

This insight will prove to sales that it doesn’t possess all of the information needed and that you are indeed an authority, and a vital cog in the sales machine.

3. Marketing interferes with customer relations

And as a result jeopardises the six-month relationship sales have been busy cultivating. Communicating, or, better still, demonstrating the benefits of your effort is the only way to address this qualm. 

“You as a marketer can enable sales to become a respected expert in the field,” says Viktor. “To achieve this marketing has to get to know the team and its process. After all, B2B customers prefer to buy solutions from experts, rather than salesmen.”

It’s sales’ job to be product experts; it’s marketing’s duty to make sure they're seen to be so.

4. Marketing will share my secrets 

There's a fear among salespeople that if the insights they use during negotiations with clients are used for marketing campaigns, they'll lose the ace up their sleeve. However, we all know the majority of the buying journey is completed before sales are even a twinkle on the switchboard, so perhaps these door-openers could be put to better, wider use. 

“The truth is, if clients don’t hear the magic words from your company at early stages of the buying process, they'll probably hear them from your competitors, and buy from them in the future. Tell your sales team that marketing doesn’t want to hand out free consulting, but needs to deliver commercial insights that magnetise leads, so that sales can actually start doing their job.”

5. Marketing has a superiority complex

It's the colouring-in department, after all. Marketing teams are the revered golden kids who come into the office to pontificate about Facebook likes and page views before swanning off to eat pastries at networking events.

"Because marketing is generally based in the head office," says Keith Grinsted, marketing manager at Essex Record Office, "there's a perception among sales that they see themselves as superior. Marketing, having no concept of what the sales team face in the field, cannot understand why there's animosity."

Of course, with mounting stress around measurement and ROI, this final sales gripe is slowly dissipating. The answer, like most on this list, is to help sales accept there's a continuum, to communicate your work and to share the overlapping responsibilities.