Today, we are talking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart, which is integrating sales and marketing so that they’re not seen as two different universes, but instead, kind of one and the same, joined at the hip. Meredith and I talk about the common pitfalls that companies fall into.


00:04 Ian

Welcome to the Same Side Selling podcast. This is Ian Altman, and I'm joined by the talented, amazing Meridith Elliott Powell. Meridith, welcome once again.

00:16 Meridith

Thank you looking forward to being here.

00:18 Ian

Can you give people just a little bit of your background for the three people on the planet who don't know who you are?

00:25 Meridith

I am a business growth strategist, specializing in sales and leadership, and helping my clients learn everything they need to know to turn uncertainty into their competitive advantage.

00:36 Ian

And I’m Ian Altman. Most people know me through the book, Same Side Selling, where we turn those adversarial tensions into buyer and seller working on the same side together to kind of solve a puzzle instead of being involved in a battle.

Today, we are talking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart, which is integrating sales and marketing so that they're not seen as two different universes, but instead, kind of one and the same, joined at the hip. So Meridith, when it comes to integrating and aligning sales and marketing, what are the biggest mistakes that you see people make? What are the traps or pitfalls they fall into that maybe people could learn from?

01:18 Meridith

Well, I think the first one is probably the one that is as plain as the nose on everybody's face. We talk about integrating sales and marketing, but we never actually do it. In most organizations that I go into marketing sits on one side of the building and sales sits on the other. Rarely did they share the same goal. Rarely do they share the same meeting. Rarely are the two held accountable for the same outcomes.

01:46 Ian

Yeah, and that's something that that, to me, is often fascinating. Often marketing will blame sales and sales will blame marketing when the reality is, they have the same goal. I look at it as marketing's job is to attract interest in established expertise, and sale's job is to, once those people have expressed interest in that expertise, to then navigate that buyer through the process to help them make a decision, and to determine who's a good fit and who isn't a good fit. Oftentimes, they’re so tightly intertwined that people don't even realize it. Yet, there are marketing meetings that happen every day without any input from people in sales, and there are sales meetings that happen every day and you'll never find a marketing person in attendance. And that's a big challenge. So how common is that?

02:40 Meridith

Well, I think I see it quite a bit. I loved when you said, you know, one blames the other. And here's really where the challenge lies. In the middle of it is marketing never gets intimately involved enough with sales to understand it at a granular level. And sales never lets go of certain tasks to allow marketing to do it. 10 years ago, that was probably okay. It didn't affect the bottom line that much. But we now live in a global economy, and we're inundated with white noise. Sales has got to do what they are good at, what only they can do. That is the relationship build, as you said, navigate through and really get the get the buyer to buy for the first time. You need to give away the tasks of creating that awareness, building that brand visibility, and allow marketing to do that. But you need to provide them the feedback so that the messaging is right, and so your lead quality is right. You need to understand that if you're doing this all alone, even if you're successful, you're not nearly as successful as you could be.

03:56 Ian

Well, and it's interesting, because one of the ironies is this is that the biggest challenge when you talk to most marketing organizations is trying to figure out the right messaging that is going to resonate with our ideal customers. Marketing will do surveys and analysis and all this stuff on their own to try and figure that out. Well, who is talking to customers more than anybody else? The people in the sales organization.

So, if you simply just said, once a week in a meeting, what are the biggest questions you're hearing from your clients? What are the biggest frustrations that they're facing? What are the things that they ask you about that you don't have an answer to today? You'd have a list a mile long of different topics that would resonate to attract clients. You would know what they need to know.

The second topic that you can go after, now that you have a sense of what the salespeople are hearing that that customers want to know. is where do you spend time in sales creating information to send to customers. Meaning if you're writing the same email over and over again, trying to explain a concept, what if we created a piece of marketing content? What if we created a video that encapsulated that for you? You wouldn't have to do it. In fact, my friend Marcus Sheridan says, “A salesperson should never be reaching out to a potential client, without including some piece of marketing content that contributes to the conversation.” So don't just give them some. Here's a PDF that I would love for you to read. When we spoke last week, you mentioned this concern. I think this this piece of content might be helpful in the discussion.

05:44 Meridith

Yeah, absolutely.

05:47 Ian

How does your team measure up against others, when it comes to being on the same side with your clients or prospects? Find out at to take the Same Side Selling Assessment. And, if you want to learn more about the Same Side Selling Academy, visit,

06:08 Meridith

You know, the other mistake I think that that we make in integrating sales and marketing is one of the most important parts of the sales call, and Ian, you and I have discussed it, is sales follow up. I mean, the chances that you're going to interact with somebody at the exact moment they're ready to buy, even if the lead is hot, even if the lead is well qualified, they're slim to none. It takes a lot of follow-up in today's marketplace in order to close the sale. Well, follow-up isn't something that salespeople should be doing by themselves, just like when you reach out to make a sales call, you want to include some form of marketing, marketing helping you with that follow-up is incredibly important. They can increase the amount of visibility, they can increase the value you bring with that visibility, and make it feel like it's less salesy and more relationship focused, but you need to be integrating what that looks like -- when the salesperson’s touch is going to be and when marketing needs to be taking over. But that's a powerful opportunity that most sales teams and marketing teams are not capitalizing on.

07:16 Ian

Sure. I think one of the things that catches my attention often is that the marketing organization, often they confuse marketing in support of sales and marketing from a branding perspective. What I mean is that there's brand related marketing that says, how do we get our name out there, our reputation, so people know us at a broad level. Then, there's marketing, meaning research, data, and information that supports an actual sale for a client. When I see this breakdown, what will happen is their marketing team will say, “Here's a slide deck for you.” However, the first 10 slides are marketing for the purpose of the brand. So, that is marketing as it as it pertains to the to the brand, which is along the lines of here's how many offices we have, here's who we are. And, the reality is, nobody cares except for the marketing department. The client doesn't care. So, we can't use that type of information. Then they say, “Well, we provided this this slide deck and sales didn't use it.” Well, thank God, they didn't use it because it's a mess. Instead, what we need is to draw that distinction so that we say, okay, if this is marketing using for a sales opportunity, we want to open this presentation with, what is the client trying to solve? How can we solve that for other people? And specifically, how is this solution going to affect the client, not a whole bunch of generic jargon that people just don't care about?

08:49 Meridith

Yeah, I think what you're saying is so true. And I love the fact that you said we created a slide deck and sales didn't use it. You need to understand in sales, if you're not using the leads that marketing is giving you don't just say, “We're not going to use those leads.” Go back to marketing, talk to them, and talk about how to make those leads even better.

The other thing I think is that sales does not, in general, provide enough feedback to marketing. Marketing puts on an event where you all invite your best clients. Then marketing never knows whether any of that turned into business. What was the follow-up process from it? Was it worth the investment that they did? I mean, in essence, I think a lot of what we're talking about is one of the biggest mistakes that sales and marketing make, and the way to correct, it is they don't talk to each other. They need to realize that it's not a perfect science. It's not a perfect art. You need to be massaging it and getting it right for your team.

09:51 Ian

And I think one of the keys to that is defining what success looks like before the event. So, for example, what often say with my clients is, “We're running this marketing event. Can you give us some input?” And I say, “What would success look like at the end of the event, immediately after the event? What does success look like? What are you going to measure 30 days, 60 days, 90 days after the event?” And, if you don't know, then you shouldn't be running that event.

You need to think through, what are the metrics? My favorite term, in today's vernacular, is a marketing-qualified lead. Which, if you think about it, is so ironic, because it says, well, according to marketing this is qualified. Then when sales gets it, what do they say? This isn't qualified. And marketing says No, but it's a marketing-qualified lead. It doesn't matter. It should be either a qualified lead or non-qualified lead. Meaning, if marketing and sales agree that, when it meets these criteria, we both agree that that's a good lead, then that's a good lead. Now, whether or not it becomes an opportunity for us, that is sale's job to take it from somebody who met certain criteria, and now at the next step, we determine, is there a need for this? Do we have the right people involved? Is there a sense of urgency? But, that notion of well, marketing said it's a lead, so now we're at odds with sales doesn't make sense. Instead, you’ve got to get on the same page, working together to define what success looks like for an event, and then what the criteria happens to be to define a good opportunity.

11:29 Meridith

Yeah, and I think you bring up such a great point, because I think we need to get there and really intimately define the roles. Because, even if marketing is sending you leads that are really qualified, often sales teams think these are like magic bullets, since it went through some qualifying process. If I call them, they should answer it. If I email, they should answer. You said, they just meet a certain level of criteria. In other words, marketing got you past first base, but you have to go to second, third, and bring it home. They got you. They did some of the heavy lifting. But the reason you're in sales is because you're good at what you do. You can sell, you can connect, you can critically think how to get past the gatekeeper. You still need to do all that. And then, if the lead doesn't work, you need to go back and tell marketing why. You put all your special sauce on top of it and it still didn't work, so, something still needs to be massaged in the process.

12:31 Ian

Yeah. I think, if you create that feedback loop, then you start getting better opportunities. If all you do is complain to your peers about why these leads, you're getting from marketing aren't any good, guess what? I promise you there isn't a single person in marketing, who says, “Hey, you know what, let's give these people bad leads and see what happens. Don't tell anybody. This will be a stitch.” They're working hard to try and generate the right opportunities for you. And, if you don't give them feedback, nothing's going to change.

So, we need to provide that feedback loop in not a critical way, but in a constructive way that says, “Hey, here's what was good about that opportunity. It was this, this this that. What we found, though, is that when we keep getting leads and a person at this level in the organization, oftentimes that that isn't right, and they become an impediment to us. And, once we contacted them if we go around them, it doesn't look right. So, when you get those people from marketing side, if you can figure out who else to contact, the organization, we would rather start at that level higher up and go down. We may be starting too low in the organization.” That's a constructive conversation that you can have. But. if you just say, “Oh, this is a bad lead.” Okay, what was bad about it?

It's like if you went to a restaurant and said, “You know, this isn't good. What don't you like about it? I just don't like it. Okay, well, so what should I order instead?” Well, what didn't you like about what I brought you the first time? Otherwise, I'm going to bring you something. It's the same thing. So, it's like you say, I didn't like this. They bring you another dish and you say, “I don't like this one, either. Why not? Well, I don't like things with sauce on it. They both had sauce.” Well, if you told me, you didn't like the first dish because it had sauce, I wouldn't have given you a second dish with sauce. But you didn't tell me. You just said you didn't like it. I made a totally different dish. The only common attribute is that they both have that sauce. I didn't know any better. There's the problem. So, I think that level communication is critical.

14:23 Meridith

I do too. And I think that I've always felt marketing is a little bit afraid of sales, in the sense that I think a lot of people in the company see sales as something that's scary to do, and you don't mess with the salespeople, because they're revenue producing Well, the truth is, if marketing would come in and really spend some time shadowing with sales, go on a call with them, see what it's like to live in their world, you’ll do a better job of applying your expertise.

If I were running a sales and marketing team and I really wanted them to align, I would begin by requiring each side to gain tremendous respect for what the other side does, and to go spend time seeing it from their point of view. Because, I think, the biggest waste in organizations is that sales are doing things that they should allow marketing to do, and marketing is creating things without intimately understanding what it means to sell.

15:23 Ian

It's interesting that my top performing clients, what I find is that not only are their salespeople in the Same Side Selling Academy, but their marketing teams are as well. And they will say to me, can we tailor a course inside of the Academy just for our marketing people, so they understand how we sell and the terminology that our team uses so we're better aligned. No shock to you and me, those teams outperform every other team, because they're so much joined at the hip, that there isn't this back and forth. They're saying, “Oh, so you probably need a tool like this, you need that.” And now, they're having regular communications between sales and marketing. So, it's not a matter of saying, oh, sales and marketing should be aligned. They actually are aligned because they're having lunch together. They're communicating on a regular basis. They're involved in each other's meetings. They really intimately understand each other's challenges, and they can offer areas to help.

16:24 Meridith

Yeah, so, so true. We just live in a world that is so busy today. It's so competitive. There's no way that a sales team can do all the things that marketing has the capability to do for them. And marketing has so much opportunity to really elevate the sales team if they'll get in there and truly understand what they do.


Alright, so we covered a lot of stuff. I'm going to do my best to try and recap this in about 30 to 60 seconds, which could be a challenge, and hopefully you've got my back for whatever I leave out.

So, when we're trying to align sales and marketing, the first thing is, we actually need to talk to one another. It's we can't have sales on one end of the business and marketing and the other end and the two never meet. We need to make sure they're aligned together.

Sales and marketing need to communicate their expectations together. So, before you do an event, sales needs to be able to sit down with marketing and agree on what is a good outcome at the end of the meeting, as well as 30 days, 60 days, 90 days.

When it comes to giving feedback, when you get leads from marketing, you need to have a feedback loop that says here's what's working for us and here's what isn't. Not just by complaining, but by providing that level of constructive feedback. And ultimately, what you want to do is make sure that you're sitting in on each other's meetings. I don't think there should be a single marketing meeting without at least one representative from sales, nor do I think there should be a single sales meeting without a representative from marketing. That way you understand each other's world, there's better empathy, and to your point, having mutual respect between sales and marketing is what leads to those top performing teams. So, what did I miss Meridith?


re looking for opportunity in:

18:39 Ian

Fantastic. Meredith, where do people learn more about you?

18:43 Meridith

They can find me at my website, which is just the words or I tend to live on LinkedIn. I'm a big believer in build your network, change your life. So, if you reach out and connect with me, I will connect with you.

18:59 Ian

And, of course, you can visit me at Be sure to check out the Same Side Selling Academy and I’m always on LinkedIn. When you reach out on LinkedIn, just drop a note that says, “Hey, I heard you on the Same Side Selling podcast, so I don't think you're just someone trying to connect to me to try and sell me something in a bad way that becomes an example for a future podcast.” So, thanks so much. Best wishes for everybody in aligning your sales and marketing. We'll see you on the next episode of the Same Side Selling podcast. Bye now.