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Careers Insight: Collaboration is key to success

Only by building strong relationships and avoiding the temptation to work in isolation will marketing and sales teams drive their business forward

Some people are just meant to work alone and remain very insular in their outlook. This has never been something suited to me.

Throughout my career, I have always sought to collaborate with colleagues, suppliers and customers and, unsurprisingly, I have found this has helped me and the businesses I have worked for achieve success. Those that did not encourage this throughout the firm were doomed to fail.

I have fond memories of working in Birmingham in the late 1990s with Jon Round, Lisa Martin and Rob McCoy among others and, before then, the likes of Martin Maynard. All these people instilled in me the need to work as a team and not in isolation.

In my view, marketing especially needs not only an environment where collaboration is actively encouraged, but also the right type of individual who is willing to work alongside people to deliver the best outcomes for the business and its customers.

Unfortunately, I am seeing all too regularly now that many marketers are more insular. Maybe this is a generational thing, or that much of marketing is now digital, but it can lead to the marketing team becoming distant from other areas of the business, especially sales.

This latter point is crucial, as rarely have I seen a successful business with sales and marketing working separately with no co-ordination or strategy.

Despite the need for sales and marketing to be one and this being a fairly well-known good business practice, it astounds me that it happens all too frequently.

If this rings true for where you work, here are a few areas you can focus on to help bring alignment to sales and marketing functions.

Talk to each other

This is usually the main issue between both departments and even if individuals do not get along, this should not be a reason not to talk. I recommend holding joint meetings; agreeing joint KPIs and assigning owners and actions on a monthly basis at least; using Slack to link people together; and working out how marketing can receive feedback from sales, and how it can feed back suggestions based on this.

Align plans around customer groups

I would try to keep it simple with existing customers by increasing your market share and/or selling new products to them, and with new customers, calling on marketing to fill the hopper with leads.

Let technology do heavy lifting

Whether you are a lender, broker, distributor or supplier, there are myriad technology solutions that can support your sales and marketing activities. Most can be trialled before you buy, so investigate what is available. Before doing so, be clear on what you need the technology to help you with, as it can be easy to get carried away with all the functions you will be offered.

There is also a huge amount of data available now, which can help you with proposition/product development. Do not be afraid to invest in this; it could make the difference between you and a competitor.

Leave lead nurturing to marketing

New customers or leads can take some time from initial contact to actually becoming a fully paid-up client. Therefore, it is important that the sales team (which is a very expensive resource) is not bogged down by leads that either may never go anywhere or are a long way from being fulfilled.

Marketing can pick up the slack and maintain contact with that customer, so when they do buy, the sales team can pick up on the goodwill that has been nurtured by marketing. I have seen a great example of this at a new tech solution called Eligible, which tailors communications and fosters engagement with a broker’s existing borrowers so that inbound calls/contact are generated, which can then be followed up by the salesperson/broker.

This article is for my fellow marketers, as it has been a great career, and hopefully I have a few more years doing this yet.

I appreciate it is not a traditional careers article, but in my experience, any marketer who does not work closely with their sales colleagues is a marketer who will not fulfil their potential and will ultimately fail.

Paul Hunt is the owner of Paul Hunt Marketing

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