Complex reds. Crisp whites. Even a summertime blush. Wine is among the finer things in life. But it's also a big business, requiring great skill in international trade law, marketing, and sales, not to mention a discerning palate. This ambiguity can set up a battle between the sales and marketing teams. They have different ideas about allocation of resources, client interactions, and company procedures. A business can't function at its peak if there's internal conflict.

YPO member Kathy Lim Sheehy appreciates life's complexities, in wine and in business. She runs The Straits Wine Company, the largest retailer and distributor of wine in Southeast Asia. Sheehy believes one of the strongest aspects of her company is the supportive collaboration between her sales and marketing teams. Instead of treating them as departments with competing goals, Sheehy created an atmosphere where sales and marketing understand they can do more together than apart.

Here's what Sheehy has found sales and marketing departments don't get about each other:

1. Their goals are not different.

People often refer to their sales and marketing departments as "teams." But Sheehy believes the only team that matters is the company as a whole. While sales and marketing play different roles on the company team, both are integral to victory. She knows this doesn't come naturally, saying, "If you speak to most sales and marketing groups, they feel they have different objectives." She issues a warning: "Sales people think marketers' only job is to get them leads. Marketers want salespeople to stick to the script and nothing else. Both are losing ideas." Sheehy says, "Both groups must pursue the same goal: driving sustainable, repeatable revenue." The two departments must understand the finish line is the same. Communicate this early and often.

2. They need each other.

Sheehy understands that each department has unique specialties and needs. She explains, "Marketing people have great ideas and develop compelling content to communicate the branding of the product. What they need is information about the market and the client." Meanwhile, she says, "Sales teams are focused on selling and meeting shorter-term sales targets. They have little time to think of conversation starters and content to help them connect with clients." Encourage your departments to focus on how they can meet each others' needs. The key is making them understand that neither will achieve without the other. If sales and marketing don't work together, everybody loses. The relationship is actually quite symbiotic!

3. They can produce content together.

The best content is collaborative. Sheehy says, "Sales people need to understand the value of content - it creates conversations and helps them come across well-prepared and knowledgeable." At the same time, "Marketers need to understand that sales people need to build their own unique brand in front of their clients and build a genuine relationship." Sheehy suggests, "Have them work together on research and pitching for individual clients. Forming creative messaging, concepts, and content directed to a specific client can create a better narrative and open doors to more leads." So once sales and marketing realize how much they need each other, constantly build that relationship.

4. Clients can tell when they don't get along.

Sheehy believes that the internal relationship between sales and marketing is critical to the external relationship between the company and the client. She says, "Clients are changing by the day, and have lots of content and information thrown at them. Modern clients are looking for authenticity, purpose, and trust. They can always sniff out internal discord." A company can't form trust with a client if their internal groups don't trust each other.

5. Sharing really is caring.

Sheehy focuses on what is shared between sales and marketing. The goal is the same, each department has what the other needs, and one can't succeed without the other. Sheehy says this should be reflected in corporate policy, saying, "Both departments should be measured based around pipeline and sales." She goes on to explain, "By setting the precedence for sharing information, responsibility, and outcomes between departments, alignment and communication will become ingrained in the culture." So share successes and failures, because when one department fails, the other follows.

Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.

Published on: Mar 2, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.