An interesting aspect of corporate life is how diverse talents across departments come together for the company’s greater good. Everybody contributes different experiences, skill sets and ideas regarding the best way for the company to thrive.
As a marketer, you collaborate with many areas of the company. Perhaps most intriguing is the symbiotic relationship with sales.
Sales needs marketing to provide the market insights, strategic direction and targeted materials to sell effectively. Marketing needs sales to provide feedback on how marketing resources are working in the field, and what gaps in support materials should be filled.
That’s where things can get complicated.
Challenges with alignment
The typical sales function in financial services is segmented by external and internal. The external team, which is out dealing with financial advisors, is made up of wholesalers and their immediate support staff.
The internal team is usually made up of inside sales reps and coordinators, plus those in practice management, business development and certain leadership roles who tend to be based at head office (although they also maintain an external presence).
The challenge is that the external and internal teams hold their own views on marketing requirements. The external team believes they can better gauge needs because they’re regularly meeting with advisors. The internal team, notably senior leadership, believes they have a better overall perspective because they’re not deep in the weeds.
With different views come different direction. For instance, internal sales leadership may want a brochure created on a particular product, while the external team says advisors want one-pagers. Marketing is left trying to reconcile competing requests.
So, while the internal team may be pushing to create a brochure, the external team is cranking out one-pagers to meet their own needs. Misalignment can also occur within teams (e.g., not all wholesalers share the same views or have the same needs).
Helping to gain alignment
This is just one example of many that you’ve likely experienced at some point. In such situations, marketing leadership can help.
Maybe they can have key sales members jump on a call with marketing to come up with an aligned approach that reasonably satisfies all parties. Or, sales leadership can be engaged to bring their teams together and align their marketing needs.
If possible, marketing should not proceed on initiatives until alignment is achieved, as it could waste time and effort – and cause friction within sales – to choose one group’s wishes over the other’s.
While marketers can voice their opinion on the best course of action and support it with rationale and related metrics or research, it’s wise not to “take sides” or pit one team against another.
After all, the marketing function runs smoother when all partners feel engaged and valued, which ultimately benefits the entire company.