Sales and Marketing Communication: The Vital Piece

Dysfunctional Sales and Marketing Communication? A tired cliché

The year was 2001. As a naîve marketing team intern with a local radio station, I was eagerly sitting in on my first ever monthly sales and marketing meeting. At the table sat a mix of veteran salespeople and then the programming/marketing team. As the meeting progressed, I quickly caught onto this struggle between the two sides. Sales seemed cynical of what marketing was proposing and marketing was mad at sales for agreeing to a promotional program without consulting their team first. Sound familiar?

I remember leaving the meeting and a veteran salesperson pulling me aside and telling me I picked the wrong side. In other words, perhaps I should have interned with the sales team. Ultimately, I stuck with marketing, and those monthly meetings continued to be dysfunctional for a while. But I did learn valuable lessons 20 years ago that still ring true today…

For sales and marketing teams to be successful, they must communicate with each other.

Both sides need each other to succeed. Marketing plans or tactics help sales teams sell, so it’s always wise to communicate to sales what marketing has planned in the next couple of months or even the entire year. This communication can be in the form of email updates or something more formal, like a marketing piece that lays out the annual plan.

Sales and Marketing Communication Needs to Be Understood

I’ve had to tell sales how to use the marketing plan in sales meetings. How many sales teams don’t use marketing should surprise you (but probably doesn’t). But when used correctly, marketing plans can help seal the sale.

Marketing to Sales Communication

A salesperson of a client of ours was great at utilizing the planned marketing to make sure his buyers carrying the product increased their orders. If they didn’t already carry the product, he’d make the marketing promotion a reason to get a new meeting. We had an annualized FSI (Free Standing Insert/Coupon) program in place.

Of course, people still got Sunday newspapers delivered to their homes back then. But he would also go to all his retailer accounts to remind them we were dropping millions of coupons in the area. We’d also run drive-time radio spots. These spots reminded consumers to look for the coupon in Sunday’s paper, tagging the larger retailers in the piece. Since consumers would be looking for their products, the retailer had better stock up! Or that’s at least what he would tell them 😉. This is a great example of sales and marketing communication working well.

Sales to Marketing Communication

On the other side, sales and marketing communication needs to be two-way. Sales need to inform marketing on growing marketing, hot products gaining traction and potential sales opportunities that maybe they would win with a little help from the marketing department.

A few weeks ago, I helped a client pitch to a new retailer to get their new product on the shelf. This was a full-on effort of both the sales and marketing teams to develop the best plan. You see, the sales team knew the type of programs the category buyer was interested in, whereas our marketing team knew what type of programs were going to get in front of consumers. Sales knew what was best for the retailer relationship, while marketing knew what would drive trial and increase sales velocity. Having both expertise is why it’s vital for successful and frequent sales and marketing communication.

In summary…

Sales and marketing communication should be ongoing. However, in-depth planning happens at least once a year, typically while planning annualized marketing plans. Quarterly updates, at a minimum, are always smart as plans could potentially change, plus it’s good for a refresher. Another consideration if you have annual sales meetings is to dedicate some time for marketing to present their plans. This allows sales to ask any questions and marketing to clarify so that both parties can be understood. Isn’t understanding the foundation of successful sales and marketing communication after all?

If you have any questions about how to better your sales and marketing communication, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food brand marketing topics, please visit our Food for Thought page or check out NewPoint’s Patrick Nycz’s book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.