Advice: "I'm a marketer. What can I do to end the rivalry with the sales team?"

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Dear Quota Team,

I’m a growth marketer at a mid-sized company (yes, I know that this is a sales newsletter). I’ve personally never worked in sales, and have been in marketing in one form or another ever since I graduated from college. 

The reason I am writing in is because I want to try to understand this sales vs. marketing dynamic that seems to be so commonplace in so many companies. Why is there an us versus them mentality, when at the end of the day, we’re all trying to accomplish the same goal?

Here is what I mean: my job is literally to drive leads for sales reps using an ad budget. I work hard to try to figure out new ways to do this, whether it’s Google, LinkedIn, or social media ads, sponsorships of communities and newsletters, events, and testing out other channels. I am constantly iterating to get better results, and my entire team works hard to try to figure out the best way to get leads into the sales funnel.

But despite all this, our sales team is constantly complaining about the leads they’re getting, saying that they’re “recycled” (which is nonsense), unqualified (in some cases this is true, but we ask questions on our lead forms to try to weed these out), or just not a good fit. Their leadership clashes with ours about this, and we get a lot of pressure to deliver. 

We are doing our best, just as they are, but it seems that marketers are just looked at as people who sit around all day making watercolor doodles rather than actually working. The stuff we do takes effort and can be complicated and take time to get right. Why can’t sales understand that our jobs are difficult too? How can we make it so that we’re working together instead of against each other?

Frustrated in the Midwest 


Dear Frustrated,

Ahhh, the old sales vs. marketing rivalry – a feud as old as the Hatfields vs. the McCoys. Salespeople are the grizzled workhorses pulling the cart, and marketers are the tie-dye-wearing, IPA-drinking “artists,” attending offsite retreats to get their creative juices flowing.   

Ok… we realize that the above is probably not helping things, so let’s get serious. 

Not every company has a marketing / sales rivalry, but it sounds like yours does. Most of the time (for better or worse), the two organizations are siloed, and operate fairly independently of each other. Sometimes this is a good thing, but oftentimes it’s not. In any case, that’s not exactly your problem, is it?

The way to solve your problem is by doing something everybody seems to hate doing these days: communicating. Everybody needs to get in a room together to discuss what’s working, what’s not, and how you can work together more effectively. 

Sales just wants to close deals, and we can almost guarantee you that they don’t have any personal animosity toward the marketing team. And marketing should want the same thing, but they (you) might not quite understand all the nuances of the ideal customer, which, at times, is something only the sales team will understand, since they’re the ones with their ear closest to the ground. 

So talk to your head of marketing, explain that the current situation isn’t working, and cross your fingers that they’re the type of person who tackles problems head-on instead of crossing their fingers and hoping they disappear. And if that doesn’t work, you can always make the switch to sales yourself! Good luck.

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