Even though each sales rep works towards their own quotas and goals, succeeding in sales requires a team effort – because when the bottom line is strong, everyone benefits. Unfortunately, sales and marketing are too often at odds with each other over quality leads, lead management, content and other sales materials.
There are many tactics for bridging this gap. And even though you’ve probably exhausted them all, there probably still remains an ongoing disconnect between these departments. What more can you do?
Consider inside sales as the strategic glue
Inside sales reps are frequently underutilized. Yet, they can make a vital contribution to field sales through their industry expertise because they understand the solutions being offered and can better share customer insights. Plus, inside reps can respond to incoming inquiries while front line warriors are out “knocking on doors.”
While in the office, inside sales can also work more closely with marketing teams. They can relay information about needs from the outside reps, which can proactively help to create the materials and the content all sales reps need while interacting with current and potential clients.
While this “inside sales great communicator” strategy sounds brilliant, you’ll need to consider some important internal initiatives that can help to ensure this strategic role is successful.
Executive Level Involvement
For inside sales and field reps to work well together, there must be a strong relationship between the members of the leadership team to promote a collaborative culture. That requires ongoing communication and a clear vision about what’s required by both sales and marketing departments to achieve goals.
Also, Inside sales reps should also be included in high-level strategy planning meetings. By being involved, inside sales can become more aligned with the goals on accounts and territories, be in tune with marketing’s events and campaigns and have a roadmap for how they can best contribute.
Transparency and Visibility
As you develop your inside sales roles, be transparent and plant seeds of collaboration from the very start. Define clear metrics on how contribution and collaboration is measured across both marketing and sales. Transparency always leads to greater trust.
Once you’ve made the vision clear, make sure the entire sales and marketing departments can see all the different activities involved to meet sales goals. Inside sales has a much more visibility between both teams that they can serve as a liaison when Marketing and Sales don’t communicate effectively. This also requires technology to be able to track prospecting and rep activities (learn more about how Liquid Hub’s expertise in complex technology execution can help you align your sales & marketing teams). A field rep wants to know the level of activity being done in his or her territory – When are prospects being contacted by marketing and what conversations are happening? Alternatively, it’s important that both inside and field reps are following up with the leads on time. With inside sales in the driver’s seat, organizations can set up protocol and accountability for both not only Sales but also for Marketing involvement.
Start with Content
The biggest area of improvement where business can start bringing together Marketing and Sales relates to content. And it’s a great place to begin involving in the inside sales team by increasing their collaboration role. Marketers truly do want to provide reps with useful, relevant information and we know that sales wants to provide insights into what content is needed and what is working best.
Inside sales can begin by taking an audit of what already exists and help Marketing fill in the holes where new, fresh content may be necessary. This approach is much more efficient than simply responding to one-off requests by members of the sales team. Then, make sure this content is distributed and made easily accessible to everyone in both Sales and Marketing – and even company-wide.
Create a Sales and Marketing Utopia
Very often, marketers operate in a vacuum, rarely stopping to investigate whether the collateral they are producing was ever used. Sales reps tend operate in a vacuum as well, rarely stopping to investigate whether clients ever took the time to read what they were given. Ultimately, it all boils down to having strong relationships. Inside sales and field sales reps need to build strong and trusting relationships with each other – just as they would with a prospect or customer. And inside sales should consider working more closely with Marketing to produce better materials.
So, if inside sales is the solution to bridging this gap, the question now is should they fall under the Marketing or Sales department? At a high level, this might seen like a no-brainer answer. Yet, since inside sales will likely have more opportunities (opposed to field sales) to work closely with Marketing, we consider inside sales as an extension of the marketing arm.