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8 Ways to Resolve Conflict Between Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Nick Hollinger
Updated Jan 23, 2023

Here's how you can resolve sales and marketing conflicts and encourage collaboration.

You know the cycle. Your B2B marketing team generates leads for your B2B business. Your sales team takes the leads, works their sales magic and hopefully closes the sale. 

Since your sales team drives all the revenue and your marketing team drives all the leads, they go head-to-head over who is more important and who is doing their job correctly. The sales team complains about poor leads and your marketing team complains about low close rates.

On and on it goes.

But having your sales and marketing teams bicker about their value isn’t productive. In fact, it can build animosity and a toxic work environment. Further, when your two teams don’t work together effectively, your revenue is on the line.

What’s a savvy business owner to do? Know that conflict between sales and marketing teams is common. Here are eight tried-and-true methods for getting your teams working together again.

Are your sales and marketing teams at war?

The war between sales and marketing has been so pervasive that even the Harvard Business Review has written an article on the matter. It seems to be a tale as old as time: sales and marketing teams arguing over which tasks are most important and who does them best.

Perhaps you’ve seen the signs already. Passive-aggressive emails. Bickering in your Slack channels. Disagreements about marketing, lead nurturing and sales practices. A war is brewing.

Potential areas of conflict between sales and marketing teams

Why the conflict? Here are some possible reasons why your two teams aren’t seeing eye to eye.

  • Lack of communication. If your sales and marketing teams exist as stand-alone departments, it could be that their issues come down to lack of or poor communication. When there’s not much overlap between departments, it can be hard for teams to communicate, collaborate and work together productively.
  • Role confusion. There are many tasks that could fall under both the “sales” and “marketing” umbrellas, such as strategizing, lead follow-up and relaying messages to different departments. If your team members aren’t sure who does what, there can be redundancies, or on the flip side, tasks getting overlooked by both teams. 
  • Unclear goals. When both teams work toward a shared goal, it’s easier for them to work together. If it’s unclear what the end goal is, or if each team has its own goals, which are not aligned with each other, it can create conflict and inefficiencies.
  • Too much competition. Your B2B marketing team wants more budget to create more marketing materials and launch new ad campaigns. Your sales managers want more budget for helpful sales tools and training. If the budget is limited, both teams will compete to get what they want. This can lead to stress, resentment and even jealousy.
  • Personality differences. Each department tends to attract different types of people. Salespeople tend to be charismatic and relationship-focused. Marketers, on the other hand, are typically more analytical and methodical. These personality differences can lead to misunderstanding and tension, almost as if your teams are speaking different languages.
  • Conflicting strategies. Each team will have their own ideas for what will work to help grow your company. For your marketing team, this could mean a push for more social media content; for sales, a more targeted lead generation campaign. If teams disagree on the best course of action, this can lead to major conflict. Stagnation, bottlenecks, pipeline gaps and ineffective campaigns are all possible side effects of teams not seeing eye to eye on strategy.

Benefits of sales and marketing working together

You now know some possible reasons why your teams may not be working well together, and what can happen if this conflict is left unchecked. But what does it look like when sales and marketing work together effectively?

  • Better communication. When your sales and marketing teams work together effectively, you can expect better communication, fewer misunderstandings and less tension.
  • Increased collaboration. If you effectively resolve the major conflicts between your teams, it makes it easier for your marketers and salespeople to collaborate, work toward shared goals and problem-solve.
  • More effective strategies. Sales and marketing can work together as a unit. With better collaboration, it will be easier to make the connection between the marketing strategy that’s bringing in leads and the sales strategy that’s closing them. Then, the process can work like a well-oiled machine.
  • Higher ROI. Inefficiencies between your teams can eat up your budget. When both departments work together, there’s a higher likelihood that your campaigns will work and generate a solid ROI versus budget going to waste.
  • Less stress and animosity. A low-stress work environment is better for everyone. It’s time to put jealousy, animosity and tension to rest for good.

Effective strategies for resolving conflict between your sales and marketing teams

Ready to end the war between your sales team and your marketing team? Implement some or all of the eight effective strategies below to get both departments working together efficiently, without the tension.

1. Define the roles of each department in your organization.

One of the leading causes of conflict between sales and marketing teams is role confusion. To prevent this issue, you’ll need to redefine roles and make sure each department understands what their responsibilities are. 

Outline what your expectations are for each role. Establish which KPIs (key performance indicators) will be measured and who each team member is accountable too. You can even cross-train team members so they grow to have a greater appreciation for what the “opposite side” does.

Every person on each team should know who does what, who they need to report to, what their responsibilities are and how success will be measured. This will prevent redundancies and team members from dropping the ball and saying, “That isn’t my job.”

2. Outline the benefits of both teams working together.

Sometimes your sales and marketing teams will see things in terms of competition. They support their own team members and are in it to secure their share of budget. They may not see the benefits of working together.

Your job, then, is to communicate why collaboration is important. As the boss, you need to be aware of how time is spent and whether your budget is put to good use. You can then share with both teams that collaboration is essential when it comes to cutting down on conflict, wasted time and wasted money.

Further, collaboration helps your business provide a better experience for your potential and existing clients.

3. Create a cohesive sales and marketing strategy.

Your sales and marketing teams should not work as two stand-alone entities. They are two parts of a whole.

Without marketing, your sales team won’t have leads. Without a sales team, your marketing team won’t have the feedback they need in order to improve their campaigns. Therefore, your business growth strategy must have both components.

In communicating this to both teams, your strategy may look something like this:

  • Marketing team creates marketing strategy based on existing sales data.
  • Marketing team generates leads via marketing campaigns.
  • Sales team receives leads.
  • Sales team offers marketing team feedback on lead quality.
  • Sales team closes new clients/deals.
  • Sales team generates revenue to be funneled into future marketing campaigns.
  • Marketing team uses new sales data and feedback to fine-tune marketing campaigns.

Each team plays a crucial role in this process. When they work together, your entire business-growth strategy becomes more efficient and effective.

4. Improve sales and marketing communication.

Miscommunication between departments is nothing new but can be resolved with the right approach and tools. First, by outlining the roles from the beginning, people will have a better idea of who to reach out to if they need help with a particular issue. Make sure their contact information is readily available.

Second, you can use team collaboration tools like Slack or Asana to keep departments working together. They can chat in real time, assign each other tasks, share resources and much more. 

5. Create a central knowledgebase to share resources.

A knowledgebase is a centralized system for collecting, organizing and distributing resources. By creating one for your B2B business, you make it so much easier for teams to share information and content across departments.

There are tons of knowledgebase tools and software options available online. You can use these as a way for team members to add important documents (client files, marketing materials, analytics reports, etc.) or access existing docs in real time. This ensures that everyone has what they need when they need it.

6. Be proactive in resolving conflicts between departments.

Don’t just let conflict stew. Take action as soon as you see tension arise. A biting remark or a passive-aggressive email presents opportunities for you to ask, “What isn’t working? How can this be fixed?” instead of waiting for things to blow up.

As the person in charge, you’re in the position to nip tension in the bud when you spot it. You can ask for clarification, offer solutions and help your teams problem-solve before they resort to name-calling or throwing staplers.

7. Encourage cross-department problem-solving.

Sometimes issues arise that require an interdepartmental solution. Your sales team may want better leads, which is a task for the marketing team. Your marketing team may want feedback on how their marketing campaigns are paying off, which could be aided by the sales team.

Use meetings as opportunities to encourage cross-departmental problem-solving. Set aside time for both teams to work together to resolve their issues. You may be (pleasantly) surprised by what they come up with. 

8. Offer incentives for collaboration.

Set shared goals and then reward everyone when they achieve these goals. When your sales and marketing teams learn that working together means massive rewards, they’ll be less likely to compete with each other. 

It doesn’t have to be an “us vs. them” situation. Collaboration can pay off both in terms of rewards from upper management and commissions on an increase in revenue.

Helping your sales and marketing teams overcome challenges through collaboration

Using the eight strategies above, you can dissipate many of the common challenges that sales and marketing teams face. Tension, miscommunications, jealousy and inefficiency can arise when your teams don’t work together effectively. You can nip those issues in the bud right now.

Encourage your sales and marketing departments to work together, collaborate, work toward common goals and support each other throughout the process. In doing so, you’ll reduce stress in the workplace and help your business grow. Win-win-win!

Image Credit: Ridofranz/Getty Images
Nick Hollinger
I am an award-winning Marketer and Entrepreneur with experience in sales, branding, strategic marketing, business building, founding companies, and SaaS. I have successfully grown three companies and co-founded one. My current company, Visitor Queue, has thousands of clients across the globe in only 9 months. I focus on one thing in business "how do we grow". Also, for fun, I am the Game Day Director for a semi-pro hockey team.