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The battle between sales and marketing – is there a winner?

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This article originates from a panel at the Revenue Marketing Summit in New York, 2022. Catch up on this presentation, and others, using our OnDemand service. For more exclusive content, visit your membership dashboard.

The battle between sales and marketing has been raging for years. Is it a case of one team winning out over the other, or is it more of a symbiotic relationship?

To explore the ways in which sales and marketing can work together to drive business success, we brought together a panel of revenue marketing experts:

🔷 Tobes Kelly, VP of Revenue and Product Marketing at Transfix

🔷 Mary Costa, Co-Founder, and CMO at Better & Better

🔷 David H. Dancer, Interim CMO at NGDATA and FutureMethod

Read on for their hard-won insights on how to bring both teams together for revenue marketing gold, including:

  • The roots of misalignment between sales and marketing
  • Sharing KPIs with sales
  • How to show the marketing team's value
  • Uniting sales and marketing under one umbrella
  • Building bridges between sales and marketing
  • How to share marketing wins with the organization

The roots of the misalignment between sales and marketing

Tobes Kelly

We are here to discuss an alignment issue, and so my first question is what are some of the underlying reasons for misalignment between sales and marketing?

Mary Costa

While a lot of companies are pivoting and realigning, I think there’s a foundational problem that goes back decades: the idea of marketing being a cost center while sales is viewed as a revenue-generating center.

That mentality starts at the top and funnels all the way down through the organization. Plus, these two functions have historically been separate.

However, I think we’re now moving in a more collaborative direction. I mean, here we are talking about revenue marketing, which is ultimately the intersection of these two areas. That misalignment still does exist, though we're seeing a lot of positive movement.

David H. Dancer

There are lots of things that can potentially go into this misalignment, but a big one is that marketing has often been positioned as a service organization, here simply to serve everyone else.

Two things that salespeople have said to me over the years that have stuck in my mind are, “I mean, you just hit the button and send an email, right?” and, “Your team will make it pretty!”

I think it’s really important that we share roles and educate each other so that we can all understand how each team contributes. Aligning KPIs is essential to overcome this misalignment too.

I also think everybody in marketing needs to be able to articulate their product’s value proposition just as well as sales. They should be bringing insights and leading the conversation so that sales doesn't feel that we’re just here to dress up their good work. That’s what gets marketing an equal seat at the table.

Back in my very first job at MCI Telecommunications, which became Verizon (our claim to fame at the time was that we did a big spot with Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes), I was the marketing manager for our airline programs.

I went to the call center in Phoenix to do some training for 1000 call center employees, and I remember thinking, “I'm just the marketing guy. I'm gonna get pizza and have fun,” and they said, “Welcome! Here's your headset. Sit down.”

I was terrified, but I learned an important lesson. My CMO at the time said that every person that works on a program that sales supports needs to be in the field once a month, and I’ve carried that with me.

Marketers have to get out there. They have to understand the real challenges. They have to understand that when feedback comes in, it's not arbitrary; it's not sales picking on marketing – they’re looking for solutions.

The most practical way that I've enforced this mentality with my team is by making sure that my team gets out there. We’ve got to:

  • Be knocking on doors.
  • Get our headsets on and make outbound calls.
  • Be in sales meetings with big clients.

And we've got to be able to do that so that we can gain credibility and, most importantly, gain insights so we can contribute.

Pssst. Wanna learn how to properly align your marketing and sales teams? We've got a playbook for that. 👇

Sharing KPIs with sales

Tobes Kelly

We've talked about shared KPIs, which seems nice in principle, but what KPIs have you shared with sales? For example, have you shared revenue accountability?

Mary Costa

In my current role, and in my recent roles, the answer is absolutely – we've shared all of that. That's because we have a shared seat at the table. We're speaking to our CFO together.

We're understanding the business metrics and the company’s overarching revenue goals and strategies together. We can ensure that information flows down so that people on both the marketing and sales teams understand what they're contributing to.

We share revenue KPIs. We also share customer insights, for instance in audience segmentation, which then can be translated into sales conversations to support both pitching and retention.

The other component that I think it’s important to share is success. Whether it’s a case study, a customer review, or a customer success win, we should celebrate that together.

David H. Dancer

This post was a collaboration between

Mary Costa, Tobes Kelly, David H. Dancer

  • Mary Costa

    Mary Costa

    Mary Costa is the Co-Founder, and CMO at Better & Better.

    More posts by Mary Costa.

    Mary Costa
  • Tobes Kelly

    Tobes Kelly

    Tobes Kelly is the VP of Revenue and Product Marketing at Transfix.

    More posts by Tobes Kelly.

    Tobes Kelly
  • David H. Dancer

    David H. Dancer

    David H. Dancer is the Interim CMO at NGDATA and FutureMethod.

    More posts by David H. Dancer.

    David H. Dancer
The battle between sales and marketing – is there a winner?