A few years back, we wrote an article answering the question “how do marketing and sales work together” and suggesting 10 useful ways they could improve their collaboration.

Over time, it became one of our most popular posts.

Fast forward to 2023, and we’ve returned to that question.

After taking an introspective look at our own challenges and successes here at PandaDoc, we thought it made sense to refresh the article by taking a closer look at how we worked to improve sales and marketing collaboration.

What we found surprised us.

Some of our tactics were already listed in this article, and some of them were missing.

Everything we discovered, however, was centered on creating a more enjoyable and effective customer experience throughout the entire journey.

I could slap together some slick reasoning as to why it’s important to align sales and marketing teams or I could quote Jill Rowley, who said it best.

“Marketing needs to know more about sales. Sales needs to know more about marketing. We all need to align better around, with, for, and to the customer.”

Jill Rowley

When sales and marketing teams work together, metrics soar, costs decrease, and life cycles are more concise. In fact, sales and marketing alignment can lead to 38% higher sales win rates.

Conversely, it’s estimated that poor alignment can cost organizations 10% or more of annual revenue.

What’s more, ongoing tension and disorganization between sales and marketing can breed a toxic environment that takes a toll on morale and work satisfaction.

The sales and marketing teams at PandaDoc work smarter together, and it all starts with our motto:

One team, one dream, all green baby!

What is a marketing and sales strategy?

A sales and marketing strategy is a plan companies will create and implement in order to reach and engage with their target audience, and then convert those prospects into customers.

It’s a guide to aid your sales and marketing teams in their daily work, and help them to establish clear goals and methods to reach their goals.

A sales team’s strategy should include setting clear goals in regards to sales processes and outcomes, and aligning these departmental goals with the business’s objectives as a whole.

They should also be aligned with customer profiles.

Sales teams should be hired and trained, and, since many people work on commission, some kind of performance incentive is also often implemented.

Therefore, the sales plan should include a tracking system to monitor sales activities and measure sales performance.

A marketing strategy should include a summary of market research conducted and an analysis of consumer behavior, an outline of which markets should be targeted, and an analysis of competitors.

The strategy should also involve the building of a brand to stand out from others, and promotions via different media.

What is the difference between sales and marketing?

Before we get into making improvements, it’s important to consider the question “what is the definition of sales and marketing?”, as well as the differences between the two.

Sales consists of selling goods and services, and involves converting qualified leads (potential customers) into actual customers.

This can take various forms such as explaining your product’s benefits and offering discounts.

Some sales teams will make cold calls, engage in cross-selling, use social media to connect with individual qualified leads, and go along to trade fairs and promotional events.

Sales is where the business-customer relationship becomes “official”.

Marketing consists of sparking the interest of potential customers through a variety of methods, such as branding and packaging, communication and promotion, pricing, positioning, and placement.

Marketing is often focused on generating direct sales leads, but can often be more about building a brand and mass relationships with potential customers via social media and other media.

It goes hand in hand with sales but is an area of expertise unto itself.

Having a solid brand image can influence customers to make a purchase with the company, and the role of marketers is primarily to analyze customers’ interests, needs, and behaviors to make products more appealing to them.

How to improve cooperation between sales and marketing

Without further ado, here are the ten ways sales and marketing should be working together.

1. Break down barriers with the right hires

Bridging the divide between the two departments starts with who you hire.

PandaDoc leadership prides itself on putting the right butts in the right seats. If you’re filling positions, try looking for candidates that have worked in both sales and marketing roles.

Look at your recruitment process and add interview questions that get the candidates to talk about their experience working with both teams.

We believe that some of the best sales team reps are English majors or graphic designers that could do marketing if they wanted to.

On the flip side, some of our best marketers used to be in sales. Ideal teammates speak both languages and empathize with their respective challenges.

Here at PandaDoc, we look for candidates that can work smarter together.

Our sales team works hard to collaborate on and share the content the marketing team puts together. And vice versa, our marketers rely on input from sales on nearly every project.

Injecting their opinions from the front lines strengthens our content’s tone, use, and reach.

2. Create KPIs and OKRs that support each other

The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) of your marketing and sales teams don’t need to exist in separate silos that never intersect.

In fact, your business has a higher chance of increasing your ROI by focusing on KPIs that are significant to both departments.

At PandaDoc we establish company-wide annual goals with senior leadership, which trickle down to each department.

For example, some of PandaDoc’s current company-wide goals include:

  1. Build the best damn customer experience
  2. Develop a world-class culture
  3. Create predictable growth

Our sales and marketing teams have the same goals but different OKRs to reach these destinations together. It’s where our corny, but lovable motto was born.

Here’s a sample of some of Marketing’s OKRs that support sales in Q1.

Company goal Key result
Build The Best Damn Customer Experience Decrease the time it takes a Sales Rep to contact a website lead by XX minutes.
Develop A World-Class Culture Activate 3 new ‘Levers’ to drive outbound MQL volumes at XX% plan.
Create Predictable Growth Increase MQL volume in 11-200 segment by XX% QoQ.

3. Foster relationships between teams

This is a key point in any consideration about how to improve cooperation in the workplace.

On top of this, when it comes to sales and marketing teams, this is also one of those strategies that is both fun to write about and fun to implement.

To be clear, fostering relationships goes beyond just holding regular meetings.

At PandaDoc we close the gap between teams by team-building in Slack.

Seeing every deal that gets closed and rooting for them is an excellent way to foster public praise that encourages teammates to keep up the hard work.

See how strong our .gif game is in our #saleswins channel?

Pandadoc #saleswins slack channel

Another one of my favorite ways to foster relationships at PandaDoc is to do what my middle school science teachers did when it was time to dissect a frog (or pig or whatever).

I find my lab partners and we pair-up to learn from each other.

Here are a few of the content pieces where I’ve personally paired up with a sales teammate to work on something.

  • 2 co-marketing eBooks
  • 3 blog articles
  • 8 podcast episodes
  • 4 promotional videos

Managers at PandaDoc are good about assigning projects, and then getting out of the way, leaving the “how” up to individual teammates.

Many relationships will nurture themselves, sales and marketing team leaders just need to get the ball rolling by encouraging 1:1 meetings to work together to get things done.

Here at PandaDoc, our leadership has also done a good job aligning sales, marketing, and customer support under the “revenue team” umbrella.

By grouping them together, there’s been an increase in both the quality and frequency of cross-departmental meetings, goals, and victories.

As well as improved customer relationship management (CRM) .

4. Lift your teammates up on LinkedIn

This list would not be complete without mentioning ways to align teams through a social media strategy.

Here at PandaDoc, this began when a few of our sales reps were experimenting with LinkedIn as a communication channel for closing more deals.

As this was gaining momentum and proving to be successful for a handful of reps, we held an official LinkedIn strategy session at our annual Sales QBR.

Our reps gave a popular presentation on how to build an audience and prospect on LinkedIn to get outbound responses.

Eventually, this strategy turned into a company-wide initiative about building community and extending our reach.

Sometimes, aligning sales and marketing is as simple as posting about your teammates and giving them some love on LinkedIn or any other social media.

A great example of that was when PandaDoc’s Sales Enablement Trainer, Patrick Downs, posted about some content I published and it allowed me to create seven new connections and boosted the overall engagements with this video by about 30%.

PandaDoc sales teammate shares marketing teams LinkedIn content

A small win, but every action to build social media lift like that snowballs and creates momentum.

A rising tide lifts all boats, so if you’re helping your sales or marketing teammates with their LinkedIn stuff, you’ll help your company and yourself get noticed more.

5. Leverage expertise

It’s harder for some teams to accept this than others, but…

Not everyone can do everything.

When it comes to aligning sales and marketing teams, recognizing who holds what unique talents and insights is critical for joint projects, managing expectations, and achieving unexpected victories.

At PandaDoc, we have recently started pairing mismatched personalities and roles together to tackle specific projects.

We got team members to ask each other “what do you know about sales and marketing?” and discover how they could fit together.

The key to leveraging expertise is learning how to really embrace the varied skillsets, backgrounds, and personalities of the two teams.

Because diversity breeds differences.

And when it comes to getting noticed in sales and marketing differences are what you want.

It’s how a sales rep avoids a hang-up on a cold call. It’s how a marketer breaks through an inbox.

6. Collaborate on the sales team content creation

A recent CSO Insights study showed that only one-third of organizations effectively tailor their content to the industries they target.

That means sales and marketing still have a lot of work to do on content collaboration, targeting, messaging, and personalization.

Creating content that sales teams can use in their proposals and throughout the selling process is a good start for sales enablement strategy.

But it’s time we take it a step further.

Here at PandaDoc, one way we work on content collaboration is by forming content committees with team members from SalesOps, Sales, Content Marketing, and Demand Generation to determine which parts of our funnel we want to bolster with personalized content based on persona, ideal customer profile (ICP), and firmographic information.

These meetings take place on a regular basis as part of our quarterly business reviews.

Rather than relying on a gut feeling for what type of content will generate and nurture leads, our teams review detailed metrics from ongoing testing to see which content pieces are working and which are not.

At the end of the day, we want content that does two things: drives traffic and creates revenue.

Taking the time to work with marketing operations to set up proper attribution dashboards helps senior managers analyze content ROI.

Our teams take a hard look at which channels and partners are helping us reach our goals, and which are not.

This methodical, cross-team approach to building and sharing content is part of why we see so many active sales users inside our company-wide content library in Google Drive.

Lastly, because of PandaDoc’s target market, we’re building content with sales representative interviews and special features.

Our podcast, video promotions, and eBooks often include the faces on the front lines.

It gets other team members excited and intrigued to see their peers blasted in Slack and on PandaDoc’s LinkedIn and other social media.

Pandadoc Slack promotion of the team’s social media content

However, there are some differences in what each department should handle.

Marketing should create the positioning, voice, and general feel of the outbound email content, while sales should take that content and customize it to the lead.

Personalization is key to outbound, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of a singular brand image.

7. Systemize lead scoring

Marketing and sales teams need to have an ongoing conversation about lead conversion — what’s working, what’s not, who it’s working for, etc.

Creating and converting MQLs to SQLs and, ultimately, to win deals is an always moving target — that’s why it’s important to ask these questions, to figure out why it’s working or not working.

Those changing results and targets of a company’s “why” increase the urgency for clear communication and getting on the same page.

Both sales and marketing teams need to create one system for scoring and evaluating.

At PandaDoc, we team up with our data science team to leverage our own unique scoring system in addition to scoring and grading that we’ve modified with HubSpot and Salesforce based on a variety of firmographic data, prospective behavior, and our ideal customer profile.

Our system is entirely conditional and depends on the product, the audience, and the buying cycle. Turning an MQL into an SQL too soon can hurt conversion, so you need to find the sweet spot in the life cycle.

This can only be found by trial and error, communication, and evolution.

8. Develop buyer personas

Sales is the front line of any successful company.

They know who’s buying and why those customers are motivated to buy in the first place. Marketing efforts understand the industry at large and who they should be targeting.

The best buyer personas are born from a mixture of marketing research and insights from your actual customer base.

PandaDoc persona one-sheets

And that’s exactly what my content team did when we paired up with three different sales reps at PandaDoc to craft persona one-sheeters.

We sat down with the sales reps and shared our outlines.

It was important to get their feedback and to figure out how we could make their experience on the front lines come to life in these documents.

The sales team can provide important insights and generalizations on the leads they’re interacting with the most, while marketing research can inform broader insights like patterns and commonalities.

Sales and marketing teams must direct their efforts at the same prospects and be completely aligned on decisions and pricing.

Together, sales and marketing need to create comprehensive buyer personas to better target their ideal customer, increase acquisition, and create symbiotic targeted ads and pitches.

9. Organize regular meetings, QBRs, and annual planning

Even the most amicable and aligned departments need actual face time to develop their internal relationships and a sense of how the other works.

Hold regular meetings to discuss new strategies, review current sales and marketing campaigns’ results, and learn more about each team’s processes.

But not all meetings are created equal. Some meetings, frankly, suck.

David Grady cracked me up when he spoke about MAS: Mindless Accept Syndrome. He defines it as an involuntary reflex in which a person accepts a meeting invitation without even thinking why. Something we can all relate to.

Grady argues that attending a meeting without a clear purpose or agenda allows others to steal your time.

At PandaDoc, we aren’t claiming that every meeting is SUPER important. But we make sure that the right people are involved in the call and open ourselves up to opting out of certain meetings and stopping them if they become unnecessary.

We avoid many unnecessary meetings with apps like Slack and Trello to help manage our joint projects.

One thing that PandaDoc has done a nice job with (in my opinion) is holding team-wide meetings quarterly and annually.

With four major offices in four different time zones, it’s critical we take the time in both sales and marketing to chat, laugh, joke, plan, challenge, question, and contribute.

Instituting quarterly business reviews (QBRs) serves as a sort of reflective reset that allows the two teams to come together in a way that we can’t on the day-to-day.

These meetings are planned months in advance, feature lots of faces (not just leadership) and allow everyone to join in on what’s most relevant to their role.

(If you haven’t established these meetings at your own company, feel free to reach out and get more information on how we’re running these events successfully.)

10. Use collaborative analysis

When you’re trying to align two departments, it’s not enough to just focus on KPIs and collaborative practices.

When you’re breaking down departmental barriers, the lines will likely blur between what the marketing and sales teams are working on.

It’s important to analyze and measure the results as a team, which will help everyone get on the same page about ROI and understand how collaborative efforts are impacting your bottom line.

By being critical, you can also spot where there are shortcomings and look at how to improve sales and marketing weak points.

Your team ROI may require both departments to analyze email campaigns or lead generation data to determine what’s working and what’s not.

Looking at these numbers individually just pushes your teams back into a silo situation where the work becomes fragmented.

“I’m a big believer in a collaborative analysis as a driver of sales-marketing alignment. There’s so much valuable information already in your data if your teams know how to use it to maximize conversions.

Just remember — with Google Analytics on its own, it can be tough to know if your website content is attracting the right audience.

Even metrics like bounce rate or average session duration can be misleading. The only real way to know if a visitor fits within your ideal market is to identify them.

If marketing can identify what companies are visiting sales enablement website pages, such as case studies, product or service pages, they can then signal sales to make a warm connection or follow up with an existing lead.”Christina Hall, Marketing and Growth at Leadfeeder

What is the importance of sales and marketing alignment?

Sales and marketing alignment can be understood as when marketing and sales teams share objectives and work together to expand reach, foster quality leads, and generate revenue.

While sales and marketing have their own unique roles, aligning around the same objectives ensures that the marketing and sales teams are on the same page, helping each other, communicating, and working together efficiently.

Good alignment leads to a clearer understanding of your target customers and better CRM.

Sales can offer feedback about their leads’ pain points and what interested them in the product.

Your marketing team can use this information to then create more accurate buyer profiles and update their social media campaigns accordingly.

When your teams are aligned and in regular communication, your salespeople will be able to use any marketing materials that your team has produced to access their customers on a deeper level.

Marketing teams can also include sales teams in their process so that a better understanding of brand image can be gained, as well as the core values put across to the customer.

By aligning your teams, you benefit from better communication, fewer information silos, and less wasted time and resources.

You can also achieve more sales at a more efficient rate.

Forge a better relationship between sales and marketing

Working together is crucial for any business.

You want your teams to be on the same page at every step of the customer journey in order to offer them a cohesive and satisfying experience.

So, how do marketing and sales work together?

At PandaDoc, we’ve worked hard to unite our teams; acknowledging that it takes more than just a few team meetings and some wishful thinking.

Instead, it’s about continuing to foster relationships, setting common goals, and effectively leveraging data and expertise.

A good relationship between sales and marketing means better communication, more informed decisions on both ends, and better collaboration over marketing and sales strategies.

Ultimately, this means more revenue for your business. It’s win-win!


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Originally published October 31, 2017, updated April 4, 2023