Working Through the Conflicts Between Sales and Marketing
This is easier said than done.
I ran across a great suggestion from Catherine Mattice, the author of the blog, No Workplace Bullies. She recommends the simple approach of parroting or repeating the criticism. No Workplace Bullies: Polly Want a Cracker?
For example, let's say you are working through the reasons sales goals were not achieved for the quarter. You have shown that the marketing team produced the agreed on number of opportunities.
In response, sales says, "But, they weren't qualified."
Instead of saying, "Oh yes they were..." which immediately invites confrontation, you simply parrot back what sales just said in the form of a question. No smirks or anything that will make the question sound accusatory. It has to be done in as emotionless a manner as possible.
"They weren't qualified?"
This almost compels the salesperson to expand on what they just said. Sometimes it will uncover a problem with the qualification process. And, sometimes, it will show that the salesperson does not have anything with which to back up their statement. This is usually a sign that they let some of the qualified opportunities slip through the cracks.
On a related note, if they don't have anything to back the statement up with, this is not the time to call it out. You don't want to back your sales team into a corner so they end up fighting like a wounded animal.
I always find that it works better if you make a note of it and then work behind closed doors with sales management to work through the issues. If sales management was in the room, as they should be, when the statements were made, you can be almost 100% certain the comments were noted. Any sales manager worth their salt will have already made a note to follow up with the sales team to make sure they are following up on ALL the qualified opportunities that come their way.
Of course, parroting can’t be the only tool you have to get sales to be more specific while they are pointing the finger of blame at marketing. However, it is a good one to add to the toolbox, if you are not using it already. It’s simple, non-confrontational, and has the added benefit of giving you something to say when nothing else comes to mind.