Love versus hate. Good versus evil. Heaven versus hell. Sales versus marketing?
If you’ve ever worked in or with a sales or marketing department, you know that the statement above might not be as ridiculous as it first seems.
It can be easy to get caught up in a constant back and forth of finger pointing: Typically, sales says that marketing doesn’t produce enough leads or, if there are leads coming in, complains that they’re not good quality. Marketing maintains that they produce plenty of high-quality leads and it’s sales that doesn’t know how to close them.
What seems like an insurmountable gap can actually be bridged quite easily, with a little transparency between the teams going a long way toward better understanding — and better transparency can be achieved with as little as a few carefully chosen collaboration tools.
Marketing Automation & CRM
The phrase “marketing automation” refers to any software that helps to automate various marketing actions — you can host website pages, send email blasts, schedule social media posts, and more.Customer relationship management (CRM) is a related, though not quite interchangeable, tool that helps manage sales pipelines.
In short, marketing automation and CRM software are used to track potential leads in all of their interactions with your company. They can tell you what pages they have visited, how long they were on those pages, how many of your emails they have opened, and much more.
Marketers use them for the valuable insight they provide into leads and their motivations — and salespeople can, too. Knowledge of what a lead is interested in, and the strength of that interest, can go a long way toward tailoring more effective pitches and a smoother overall sales process.
HubSpot is among the best software providers in the nation. They offer free versions of their marketing automation, and we have am on-demand webinar walking through the CRM if you're interested.
The best part of these tools is that each side, sales and marketing, can see what the other is up to, so you'll know why that hot RFQ that came in didn't end up getting brought in as a customer. (Of course, you can set certain levels of permissions if desired.)
File Sharing and Hosting
If you’re thinking “Why buy a tool for file sharing when emailing attachments works just fine?” then you should definitely be considering it — emailing attachments can cause unnecessary headaches in your collaboration.
For one thing, it is only to easy to miss important recipients when filling out the “send to” field. For another, emails with attached files routinely get lost in the crush of emails, especially in today’s the high-traffic inboxes. Finally, many email systems also limit file size, eliminating email attachments as an option altogether for larger files.
File sharing and hosting services — such as Dropbox and Google Drive, two of the best — are an ideal solution. Sharing documents, including large documents and file folders, is as simple as setting permissions. Plus, storage capacity is virtually limitless.
Obviously, we're focusing on sales and marketing in this post, these services can also make collaborating on files with other teams (design, especially) a breeze.
Project management software can be a great help in bringing sales and marketing teams together on the same page. Organization is a foundation of true collaboration, and a good project management tool can go a long way toward getting your teams organized.
Basecamp and Trello are two leading project management tools. Basecamp organizes projects and tasks hierarchically, and it is ideal for bringing together a number of members from different teams who are working together on individual tasks. Trello is more visually oriented, using collections of “cards” to track tasks as opposed to lists.
It's helpful to be able to see the stages of projects, loop other people in, and assign hard deadlines to certain tasks to keep them moving. It doesn't matter if you're creating a one-sheet for sales, a new marketing eBook, or gathering new quotes for case studies, you don't want them to slip off the radar, and this is a great way to hold all team members accountable.
Of course, what better way is there to bridge the perennial gap between your sales team and your marketing team than by fostering direct, daily collaboration? Doing so will help each team understand what the other does, provide insight into their processes, allow them to develop new complimentary process, and ultimately deliver better results. Two of our favorites:
- Evernote is a multifaceted collaboration tool with a wide range of functions. Users can share ideas and notes, brainstorm together, and quickly develop concepts using text, by-hand annotation, images, and more.
- Slack — famously used by NASA employees — is a chat-style collaboration tool. It allows employees to come together in direct message, group chat, or channel forums to discuss particular issues, brainstorm, share files, and so on.
Sure, you have emails, phone calls, and text messages, but when you have a continuous line of communication, it can ease passive aggressive tendencies and foster a "one team" mentality.
These tools barely scratch the surface of web-based collaboration offerings. There are multitudes of software, all with different looks, feels, and focuses, available, with more launched by the day. While many fade away, many others grow, develop, and stand to offer a lot to your business.
It can be overwhelming to sign up for a bunch of tools, and many are hesitant to do so — poor experiences in the past, costs, and concerns of inefficiency and disuse understandably hold some people back. But a carefully curated roster of just a few smart tools can go a long, long way in bringing transparency to your sales and marketing teams.
We can answer any collaboration, functionality, or industrial marketing and sales questions you might have — just get in contact with us today.