Brian Carroll

Collaboration Huddles and 35 Other Ways to Improve Sales and Marketing Teamwork

Huddlehands_3I just got back from speaking at the New Marketing Summit and it was great. But it seems that I can’t attend a marketing conference with out hearing marketers swap complaints about their sales teams.

I don’t know about you but I’m fed up with the same old story.  Companies continue to waste millions of dollars because of poor teamwork and collaboration between marketing and sales.

Even the very best lead generation program cannot compensate for poor teamwork and collaboration, but unfortunately we continue hear about it time and again.

Sales and marketing often believe they are working together but collaboration takes more than annual or even quarterly planning meetings. Teamwork is something that must exist in a very real way each day.

I’ve found the most powerful way to foster teamwork and collaboration is to do more frequent and effective meetings. At InTouch we call them “huddles." We have short huddles daily and weekly between the marketing and sales team. 

In our huddles we do three things: Talk. Understand. Execute. (Repeat again) Talk. Understand. Execute. (Repeat again) Talk. Understand. Execute. Okay got it? (Repeat again).

In addition to huddles, there are other ways that sales and marketing can and should collaborate together.  This is just one list of 35 possibilities that we’ve tackled in our huddles and I hope you’ll add your own too.

During huddles, you can brainstorm, go over marketing and sales programs, and accomplish or think about any or all of the things on the list below:

  1. Get feedback from the sales team – look at the conversion process and have regular face-to-face meetings or conference calls. Where is your sales team getting stuck?
  2. Seek to understand if the sales team is at capacity.  Don’t generate more leads if they are focused on closing deals. Support them with nurturing.
  3. Encourage sales people to follow-up on leads and hold them accountable, while still treating them like customers…ask them what they need. 
  4. Develop a strategic lead generation and growth plan between sales and marketing.
  5. Marketing and sales can work together on standardizing and documenting their lead generation and sales process so that what is happening can be easily tracked and measured.
  6. Develop a marketing program that helps the sales team sell at a personal level.
  7. Train your sales people on how to optimize your lead generation investment and give your feedback. 
  8. Centralize the lead qualification process.
  9. Use your huddles to introduce new sales people to the marketing team. 
  10. Share lead generation best practices amongst the sales team.
  11. Assign revenue goals to your joint sales and marketing plan.
  12. Be flexible in your planning, so that you can adapt to changing requirements.
  13. Lead generation must be promoted from the top down and bottom up.
  14. Develop a culture that values leads by creating a universal lead definition.
  15. Get the marketing team out in the field with the sales team regularly.
  16. Arrange your compensation so there’s a shared accountability around lead generation.
  17. Remember what Steven Covey say’s, “seek first to understand.  Then be understood.”
  18. Close-the-loop on each sales lead being generated.
  19. See that marketing takes over as many of the non-selling tasks as possible.
  20. Integrate sales and marketing activity by using the same database or CRM system. 
  21. Define and map out the responsibilities shared by both sales and marketing.
  22. Share details about upcoming, events, articles, and press coverage.
  23. Go over the upcoming lead generation program strategy and what the outcomes of that strategy are expected to be.
  24. Mutually share new insights gained from customer feedback.
  25. Share effectiveness measurements from recent lead generation activities.
  26. Jointly develop message map and value proposition for you lead generation program.
  27. Ask, what have you learned from the leads? Are there changes in hot topics for your target audience?
  28. Discuss common concerns raised by potential customers and how the sales team is addressing them and develop solutions together.
  29. Do your lead generation messaging align with your target audiences needs?
  30. Analyze competitive information, and develop a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
  31. Improve relevance of sales tools and marketing materials with sales input.
  32. Map out your customer’s decision and buying process and then map out your value proposition for each role involved in the buying process.
  33. Determine an answer to the question: What is the life cycle of a lead?
  34. Strategic accounts: Can you develop content and lead generation events with your existing customers as references (ambassadors) to your audience? 
  35. Define your expertise: how can you demonstrate your ability to solve business problems and share new ideas?

I’m wondering what you do in your company to foster better sales and marketing collaboration? Please share your thoughts and comments. Who knows? Your comments could be included in my next book.

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Lead Generation, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Qualification, Leadership, Marketing Strategy, Public Relations (PR), ROI Measurement, Referral Marketing, Sales Leads



  1. May 18th, 2007 at 17:51 | #1

    Brian,

    As always, thank you for your pithy tips on how sales and marketing can work together more effectively as a team. The operative word here being “team.” Sales and marketing are really one team with one ultimate goal—revenue growth. CEOs can play a bigger role here by emphasizing that sales/marketing are accountable for revenue. Statement of the obvious but it’s actually far less common than you’d think. So I would add to your list three to-do’s for the CEO:

    1. Ask your sales and marketing VPs to show you lead conversion rates—from first customer contact phase to closed sale. This should pinpoint exactly which sales stage (or buying phase) needs work.

    2. Separately, ask your sales and marketing VPs to define a “qualified lead.” The closer the definition , the closer the teams are working together. See Brian’s Universal Lead Definition piece at:
    http://blog.startwithalead.com/weblog/2004/10/guidelines_for_.html

    3. Ask your inside sales manager what she thinks of marketing (upstream) and sales (downstream). Inside sales often has the best vantage point. They know which marketing messages and tactics work best with customers and which don’t. Inside sales also knows which leads the sales team has converted to sales.

    Thanks, Brian.
    Sridhar

  2. May 21st, 2007 at 13:03 | #2

    Brian,

    I am with you 100%. Marketing and sales should be working together toward the same goals. Unfortunately, both fail to get it.

    I have called repeatedly for sales and marketing to be under one senior executive, whose compensation is partly based on goals that are complementary to both functions–lead generations that create sales. Furthermore, everyone in marketing and sales should have a portion of their pay based on those same goals. When leads are bad, employee pay in both sales and marketing take a hit. Similarly, when deals aren’t closed, they both take a hit.

    This is a partial and simplistic solution but space does not permit a thorough review of the challenges.

  3. kenny
    June 11th, 2007 at 18:51 | #3

    Agreed, I have been strugling with this sales and marketing for a few years. All of a sudden I realised I was working in a new role that needs to be created.

    kind of a “smarketing architect” idea.

    PS: I think sales and marketing should be paid on one thing and one thing only – CLOSED revenue. (+ a nice high base salary of course”

  4. Nick
    July 6th, 2007 at 08:14 | #4

    Brian,
    I completely agree with your comments. The lack of collaboration between Marketing and Sales remains a huge challenge, especially in B2B. I would like to emphasize the importance of feedback. Many B2B businesses have trouble telling how effective their marketing campaigns are simply because of long sales cycles. If marketers were able to get better feedback and actually get an idea of what they need to change in their lead generation process, they could give Sales better leads. I think that feedback could go a long way toward bridging the gap between Sales and Marketing and establishing a more trusting atmosphere.

    Nick
    http://www.pardot.com

  5. April 29th, 2008 at 13:43 | #5

    Brian,

    Really glad to have come across your site and blog. Always good to have more ammunition when communicating to our clients the importance of the daily relationship between sales and marketing. This is the stuff they should be teaching in business school. In fact most fortune 500′s don’t have a clue as to how to work these two disciplines together. The middle market can be even more painful to watch. Thanks again for your insight.

    Mike Kolbrener, CEO Kolbrener USA

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