Today, B2B marketing helps forecast revenue, formulate customer strategy, and inform decisions that move the entire company forward.

The evolving role of marketing demands that marketing and sales work together. There’s no tolerance for fighting or finger-pointing. Traditional barriers need to be obliterated and collaboration is paramount to success. Yet at most companies, sales and marketing barely talk.

Only two thirds of sales reps believe that their company’s content is valuable and relevant to customers, according to a Selling Power’s Content Marketing and Sales Effectiveness white paper. The research also shows that “nearly 50 percent of sales reps and more than one-third of sales managers do not understand their own company’s content-marketing strategy.” This disconnect typically happens when marketing has not mapped its content to the buyer journey or revenue model and doesn’t communicate with sales.

Here are a few ways to bridge the divide between marketing and sales.

Invite sales to the table early and often.

The key to success is for marketing to work with sales to define what a qualified lead is, what the lead handoff between marketing and sales looks like, and create a revenue model that tracks leads from the marketing automation system, to the sales system, and through to close.

B2B marketers can start the conversation by inviting sales to take an active role in:

  • Documenting the buyer’s journey.
  • Contributing to and adopting the revenue model.
  • Developing and agreeing to a scoring system that pinpoints and defines the transition from marketing to sales.
  • Committing to a service-level agreement that quantifies how long sales has to follow up with a qualified prospect, when to discard a lead, and when and how to recycle it.

Develop a sales concierge desk.

B2B marketers need to hire—or develop—hybrid marketing, sales, and social professionals who will serve as a primary contact for prospective buyers, long before they are ever handed over to sales. These people add a human touch to the marketing automation process, reaching out through the phone, email, or social media channels to help buyers get the information they need. Their focus is on qualifying and nurturing leads and adding value during the buying process, rather than receiving a sales commission.

The people who fill this position, sometimes called market development or lead development representatives, are pros at recognizing when prospective customers are moving toward a purchasing decision but still need to be nurtured. They can also tell when to fast-track highly qualified prospects ready to buy.

Despite having a role that can be comparable to sales, lead reps act as a bridge between marketing and sales. They can help the sales team optimize social media channels with marketing’s insight and content. At the same time, they can help translate sales lingo and practices into insight for marketing about how buyer preferences and requirements are changing and how industry trends are shifting.

Lose the “us versus them” mentality.

Too often, the disagreements between marketing and sales are driven by definitions of lead quality, disparities in lead volume, a lack of valuable content for conversions, opportunity attribution….the list goes on. The sad truth about all of this? It draws an even larger line between company and customer. Not only do leaders from both sides need to take responsibility for results – they need to collaborate on making a seismic shift away from a strategy based on their products and solutions to one focused squarely on their customers.

Look for ways to erase the lines between marketing and sales and establish success metrics that acknowledge the contribution of each step in the process in moving toward shared goals – for both their customers and their business.

This is an excerpt from the B2B Change Agent Handbook. Download it now to get more ideas about how you can improve your B2B marketing.

B2B Change Agent Handbook