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MarTech Recap Part 1: Bridging the Marketing – Sales Divide

Sarah Hale

We can decide that marketing and sales are friends, but declaring that they are won’t make it so.

I recently attended the MarTech conference in San Francisco. Most sessions discussed how to make marketing programs more efficient and smarter. About half addressed the elephant in the room at some point: what happens after a marketing program is deemed a success and leads passed over to sales.

Here at Walker Sands, we have a more direct and understanding relationship with our sales team than most organizations. Still, the divide is palpable, even among clients that have the foresight to integrate sales and marketing. I’m in the middle of Scott Brinker’s latest book, Hacking Marketing and in the very first section he emphasizes that change for the sake of change won’t fly on the sales side, which thrives on routine. Quite a departure for marketers who are encouraged to embrace agile and constantly innovate.

How can sales and marketing meet in the middle and better understand what the other is going through? Here are tips from two experts from the brand side who have been successfully able to bridge (or at least minimize) the marketing-sales divide:

Provide Salespeople with Leads - and Help Them Nurture

Mark Roberts, CMO, ShoreTel

Mark’s goal as CMO is to implement and communicate ShoreTel’s combined mission and tagline of making interactions simple. The team also applied this lesson internally in working with the sales team, and emphasized that marketing’s role doesn’t end once an MQL is magically transformed into an SQL. By following through, ShoreTel was able to increase the proportion of leads that became contact-ready.

Key takeaway: Follow up with sales. Use insights gleaned from marketing to provide context.

Base personas on conversations, not assumptions

Aaron Dun, SVP, Marketing, SnapApp

My colleague and I enjoyed Aaron Dun of SnapApp’s presentation mostly because it made the struggle that every marketer experiences personal.

Image Source: MarchTech 2016
Image Source: MarchTech 2016


Meet Sam, the marketer who’s weighed down by both the status quo and the threat of change. The biggest takeaway from the presentation was that we’re just guessing at who our buyers are. Even if we do engage in buyer persona creation, it’s easy enough to go through the process without talking to a single buyer. Want to know what your buyers are thinking? Ask them! This goes a long way to correcting any misconceptions or disconnects between sales and marketing.

Image Source: MarTech 2016
Image Source: MarTech 2016


How do you communicate with sales and make their job easier? Tweet your recommendations @WalkerSands.