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Updated Apr 04, 2024

8 Ways to Resolve Conflict Between Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Encourage collaboration and communication while creating more effective strategies.

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Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Table of Contents

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Marketing and sales live in different “time zones.” Marketing focuses on the future, following projected trends and the big picture, whereas the sales team must rely on previous successful strategies to secure the present. Marketing must continually generate leads to keep the company’s business momentum moving forward, and the sales team must convert those leads to keep the business operational. 

When marketing and sales teams successfully collaborate, all systems are elevated. Marketing materials are top-notch, the sales team has the emotional intelligence to pivot after losing a sale, and competitor analysis improves. 

However, marketing and sales don’t always work together cohesively. We’ll explain how business owners and managers can navigate typical conflicts and create strategies to help marketing and sales teams work in harmony.

How to resolve conflicts between your sales and marketing teams

Differing business goals and roles often fuel marketing-sales disharmony. Consider the following strategies to help your marketing and sales teams work together more efficiently. 

1. Define each department’s role in your organization.

Role confusion is one of the leading causes of conflict between sales and marketing teams. To prevent this issue, you must redefine roles and ensure each department understands its responsibilities. Here are some tips for doing so: 

  • Outline each role’s expectations. 
  • Establish which key performance indicators (KPIs) will be measured.
  • Determine to whom each team member is accountable. 
  • Cross-train team members so they get a greater appreciation for what the “opposite side” does.
TipBottom line
Tools such as Google Analytics, Salesforce, HubSpot and even spreadsheets can help you efficiently track KPIs.

2. Outline the benefits of sales and marketing teams working together.

Sometimes your sales and marketing teams will see things in terms of workplace competition. Sales and marketing team members want to secure their budgets and positions and may not see the benefits of working together.

Managers and leaders must communicate why collaboration is essential. You must understand how much time is spent on each task and determine whether your budget is being put to good use. Explain how collaboration can improve workplace performance by reducing conflict, lost time and wasted money.

Even better, share how collaboration helps your business provide a great customer experience for potential and existing clients.

3. Create a cohesive sales and marketing strategy.

Marketing generates sales leads, and sales teams are responsible for lead conversions. Without marketing, your sales team won’t have leads. Without a sales team, your marketing team won’t have the feedback it needs to improve marketing campaigns

Explain to your teams that your business growth strategy must have both components. A successful, cohesive sales and marketing strategy may look like this:

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

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

4. Improve communication between the sales and marketing teams.

The right approach and tools can resolve miscommunication between departments. By outlining everyone’s roles from the beginning, team members will know whom to contact if they need help with a particular issue. Ensure everyone’s contact information is readily available.

You can use team collaboration tools, like workplace communication app Slack or Asana, to keep departments working together. These tools allow team members to chat in real time, assign tasks, share resources and keep a written record of each project.

Did You Know?Did you know
To boost productivity with Slack, utilize its integrations to centralize data, create specific channels for various projects and use @ mentions to get someone's attention.

5. Share resources through knowledgebases.

Various knowledgebase tools and software options are available online for collecting, organizing and distributing resources. Team members can use these resources to add essential documents (e.g., client files, marketing materials, analytics reports) or to access existing docs in real time. This ensures that everyone has what they need when they need it.

Internal knowledgebases should also include company best practices, product development and HR-related resources. 

FYIDid you know
External knowledgebases are also valuable because they improve customer support and increase customer retention by offering self-service online resources about product usage, FAQs and troubleshooting.

6. Be proactive in resolving conflicts between departments.

Don’t let workplace conflict stew. Take action as soon as you see tension arise. A biting remark or a passive-aggressive email should prompt 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 can nip tension in the bud when you spot it. Ask for clarification, offer solutions and help your teams problem-solve before they resort to harmful behaviors.

7. Encourage cross-departmental 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 a campaign’s digital marketing return on investment (ROI), which the sales team could provide.

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 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 versus them” situation. Collaboration can pay off in rewards from upper management, employee bonuses, or commissions on revenue increases.

Why sales and marketing teams have conflicts

Here are some possible reasons your sales and marketing teams aren’t seeing eye to eye:

  • Lack of communication: If your sales and marketing teams exist as stand-alone departments, their issues may stem from a lack of communication or poor communication. When there’s not much overlap between departments, it can be challenging for teams to communicate, collaborate and work productively.
  • Role confusion: Many tasks — such as strategizing, following up on leads and relaying messages to different departments — could fall under both the sales and marketing umbrellas. If your team members aren’t sure who does what, there can be redundancies. On the flip side, both teams may overlook tasks.
  • Unclear goals: When both teams work toward a shared goal, it’s easier to collaborate. Unclear end goals — or separate, unaligned goals — can create conflict and inefficiencies.
  • Too much competition: Say your B2B marketing team wants a bigger budget to create marketing materials and launch new ad campaigns, but your sales managers want a larger budget for helpful sales tools and employee training. If the budget is limited, both teams 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 are often charismatic and relationship-focused. In contrast, marketers are typically more analytical and methodical. These personality differences can lead to misunderstandings and tension, almost as if your teams spoke different languages.
  • Conflicting strategies: Each team will have its own ideas for what will work to grow your company. Your marketing team may want to focus on social media marketing, while your sales team may prefer a more targeted lead-generation campaign. If teams disagree on the best course of action, this can lead to significant conflict. Stagnation, bottlenecks, pipeline gaps and ineffective campaigns are all possible side effects of teams not seeing eye to eye on strategy.
TipBottom line
Get your sales and marketing teams on the same page by agreeing on your ideal customer personas. Clear buyer personas help marketing bring in qualified leads that the sales team can convert.

Benefits of sales and marketing teams working together

As you guide your sales and marketing teams toward mutual respect and understanding, your business will enjoy the following benefits: 

  • 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 significant conflicts between your teams, it makes it easier for your marketers and salespeople to collaborate, work toward shared goals and solve problems.
  • More effective strategies: Sales and marketing can work together as a unit. With better collaboration, it’s easier to connect the marketing strategy bringing in leads and the sales strategy closing them. 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 improve your marketing ROI so your budget doesn’t go 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.

Nick Hollinger contributed to this article. 

author image
Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
With nearly two decades of experience under her belt, Julie Thompson is a seasoned B2B professional dedicated to enhancing business performance through strategic sales, marketing and operational initiatives. Her extensive portfolio boasts achievements in crafting brand standards, devising innovative marketing strategies, driving successful email campaigns and orchestrating impactful media outreach. Thompson's proficiency extends to Salesforce administration, database management and lead generation, reflecting her versatile skill set and hands-on approach to business enhancement. Through easily digestible guides, she demystifies complex topics such as SaaS technology, finance trends, HR practices and effective marketing and branding strategies. Moreover, Thompson's commitment to fostering global entrepreneurship is evident through her contributions to Kiva, an organization dedicated to supporting small businesses in underserved communities worldwide.
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