We know how helpful software is in improving collaboration. You’ve seen the list: Monday, Basecamp, Dropbox, Slack – they enhance project management and communications. At 29, we use them all. 

But how about extending this collaborative energy into the way marketing and sales work together? 

Too often there is a breakdown in integrating marketing and sales, particularly in Business-to-Business companies. You need brand building and lead generation to move prospects into the sales funnel in a smart way. That won’t happen if sales and marketing are not working together.

And it goes way beyond collaborative software. It requires a collaborative mindset. 

Here are six get-to-the-heart-of-the-matter ways to significantly improve your company’s mindset about marketing and sales collaboration: 

🤓 Hire Smart.

A collaborative mindset requires openness to different perspectives and ideas. Hire employees who are open to others but are not afraid to voice their own point of view. 

Sometimes, if you hire too junior, the person does not have the confidence to make strong recommendations that incorporate intuition and experience. Quite simply, they become order takers, not strategic thinkers.

Conversely, sometimes too much experience makes people wary of new ideas. You don’t want or need someone with an “I’ve seen that one before” mindset. 

Also, you want detailed-oriented people who also can see the big picture. And you need someone who is comfortable with technology, but not so in love with it that they forget that marketing and sales are always human-to-human. 

❌ Just Say No to Silo Thinking.

This is an all-too-common scenario we have witnessed. New products and services are developed prior to collaborating with marketing and sales experts who can provide important insights into usability and customer needs.

Why? Silo thinking. How many times have you heard, “We don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen”?  Too many cooks at the beginning of a project can actually be very good because they bring different flavors and cuisines into the ideation process. 

And it’s not a misuse of valuable time. Believe us, not collaborating about important issues like differentiation, benefits, and the customer experience will inevitably burn more time.

⏰ Think of Time Differently.

Ah, yes, time-burners. In the name of efficiency, time for ideation is often cut short. It’s important to give team members time to think about a big idea or problem. That means designing collaborative meetings that are about ideas, not tasks. 

It can also include taking a playful attitude about collaboration, particularly to inspire great marketing ideas. To quote the great John Cleese: “If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.”

👍 Show Respect.

Collaboration is based on respect. Sometimes, sales departments dismiss marketing departments and vice versa. 

When that happens, the one group that matters the most — customers — gets the short end of the stick. 

Listening and incorporating marketing, sales and customer ideas creates a “can do” mindset. Organizations thrive creatively and financially when collaboration occurs because smart companies respect the truism that great ideas can come from anywhere. 

On a side note, be wary of agencies and consultants who do not treat your organization with respect. The “we get it, and you don’t” attitude has no place in building a collaborative mindset. 

👥 Together is Better.

Getting outside perspectives can be highly valuable. Our most successful clients have a mix of internal resources collaborating with external resources. Why? The answer is two-fold. 

First, agencies are filled with people who live and breathe creativity. It’s what they love and what they are rewarded for. Second, agencies and consultants bring an outside perspective to your typical day-to-day. Their power is their neutrality. 

It’s also very important to give your outside resources access to different voices inside and outside your organization to build a truly collaborative mindset. This allows for the iterative creation of marketing and sales programs that reflect what really matters to your customers and what really meets business objectives.

🖊️ Understand that collaboration is not consensus. 

Too often we see organizations that water down a great idea because they engage in consensus-building (also affectionately known as death by committee.) 

True collaboration engages people in thoughtful and challenging exchanges of ideas and observations with the purpose of improving and making difficult choices in the end together, not compromising and agreeing about everything. 

Let’s end with another great quote from John Cleese. “A wonderful thing about true laughter is that it just destroys any kind of system of dividing people.” 

So, if our six ideas for improving collaboration with marketing and sales don’t work, just add our secret ingredient to collaboration: have fun and laugh together.