They sit on opposite sides of the office, glaring at each other, clutching their pens and rulers as if all of a sudden a Braveheart charge is about to take place. Yes, it’s the sales and marketing departments. Those not involved in one of these two areas would regretfully assume that they are all cut from the same piece of cloth. Mark my words- if the Marketing Manager heard you say that, I’m sure you wouldn’t have a tongue for much longer. But why is this the case? Why is it that the two departments that truly determine the level of success experienced by your business are usually the two departments that can’t stand the sight of each other?
Well, it’s interesting to first note that most small businesses I have worked with are either ambassadors for marketing or sales, not both. Very rarely have I encountered a small business that embraces both departments. So if this sounds familiar, and you constantly hear remarks like “It’s not our fault they can’t close a door. We’ve brought them in so many leads” or “If only they knew the difference between a qualified prospect and a goat!” Then gather your troops, hopefully the following will help.
What is the first objective of any General leading an army into battle? To make it crystal clear to all of his soldiers, captains and lieutenants from each division the collective purpose and reason for their attack. Yes, it is vitally important that each staff member and department knows their own role and how to go about performing that role in the best way possible, but it is as equally important that they know and believe in the ‘Big Picture’. Businesses, especially small businesses, often forget to express the reason why all their staff are doing what they doing. We get so caught up in the day-to-day running of each department that we start to focus too much on the granular details, without noticing the upcoming ambush. Then all of your ‘soldiers’ start blindly swinging at what ever is in front of them, including their own.
So make sure you, as the leader, revisit the company’s mission statement daily and remind your team of it weekly. The next suggestion is one I recommend you conduct in training, not on the battlefield. Let the archers (your marketing folk) have a go at swinging the sword (selling). It is always a humbling and eye-opening experience when you try on someone else’s shoes. On your next organised Staff Day, create a game around swapping people’s positions. Let the sales team design a marketing campaign, while the marketing team role-plays a sales situation with a fake potential customer. It will certainly bring about some hearty laughs and more importantly it will create a new level of respect for their colleagues’ role and responsibilities.
Lastly, make sure each department has the right and equal amount of tools and armour. As mentioned before, most small businesses tend to favour one practice over the other. It is those that develop and manage both departments with an equal level of importance who will experience more victories. You can’t expect to win the overall battle if your different departments have a different quality of tools. Your archers may have the very best arrows going around, but your infantry will get slaughtered when they go in after the archers with blunt swords.
Listen to all of your staff and their queries. If the marketing team feels they need a bigger budget, hear them out and make sure you ask them to clarify their reasons why. The same goes for your sales team. If they feel like they need more training in a particular part of their selling process, let them explain why they feel that way and how, if they do receive the training, it will lead to greater overall business success. It is also very important that if you grant their wishes, you have them commit to fulfilling their objectives and measure the success of their new ventures collectively as a business, not just as a departmental measure.
In closing I thought I might leave you will this quote from one of the greatest leaders in history – Napoleon Bonaparte.
“The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.“