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If you, as a manager, haven’t dealt with friction between your Sales and Marketing teams, you’re a rare case. It seems any time there’s stoppage in the marketing and sales funnel, each team starts pointing fingers at the other. Sales says the leads are useless. Marketing says Sales isn’t qualifying as many leads as they should be. And you? You’re left mediating a conflict that might not even exist if each team had ever been in the shoes of the other. The kind of empathy that can come from cross-functional experience can go a long way toward improving relations on your staff.
When reviewing resumes, lots of hiring managers see cross-functional experience as a deterrent – or, at best, of little use. After all, if you’re looking for a software engineer, for example, how is it helpful if a candidate used to be an office manager?
In sales and marketing, though, it’s different. Sales candidates whose resumes include marketing experience, and vice-versa, should move higher on your list – not lower. Your sales funnel could be better off for it. Here’s why.
How sales experience makes good marketers
Building a consistent engine for generating and nurturing leads is the core function of your marketing team. But it’s not the only function – with account-based marketing (ABM) on the rise, marketing teams are orienting more of their efforts toward individual accounts, and are aligning themselves more closely with their sales teams.
A marketer with prior experience in sales will be best equipped to function in this environment. These marketers will possess certain sales skills – adjusting messaging and value props in real time to speak to the needs of individual accounts, for example – that can improve the team’s ability to deliver top-notch sales enablement materials and thrive in the ABM future.
How marketing experience makes good sales reps
Sales reps tend to bring quite a bit of urgency to their requests for sales enablement materials. This, of course, is fair: these requests often come when the rep has an account at the 5-yard line and needs to close it while the opportunity is still hot. So when marketing pushes back on their requested turnaround time for a new one-pager, it’s bound to lead to frustration. The rep doesn’t feel they can afford to wait several days for the deliverable. Marketing doesn’t want to drop everything to produce the piece by EOD. Complaints, inevitably, get escalated.
But what if the sales rep, earlier in their career, had spent some time as a marketer? This experience could help them temper their expectations and adjust the timing of their requests. If your reps know what it’s like to work with a full campaign calendar and weekly lead goals, they may better understand the challenge of weaving ad-hoc content requests into that strict schedule. With this understanding, they might ask earlier, or clearly separate need-to-have components from nice-to-have components. The result: they might just get what they need in time to close the deal.
It’s not just the marketing funnel or the sales funnel. It’s everyone’s funnel.
On a broader level, the best thing to douse the flames of conflict on sales and marketing teams is a bit of empathy and camaraderie. You’re all on the same team. Success comes when Sales sees Marketing’s lead gen engine as a source of hot leads, rather than a distraction that slows down the development of sales enablement materials. It comes when Marketing feels partly accountable for the sales team hitting its number, and takes measures to produce leads that Sales can work with, rather than just focusing on volume.
This happens more often when marketers have firsthand sales experience, and vice-versa. So the next time you see “two years as an Account Executive” on the resume of someone applying for a Content Marketing Manager job, try to see it for what it is: an asset that can help reduce friction in the sales and marketing funnel.