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Posted on July 31, 2013 · Posted in General

The conflict between Marketing and Sales departments is an old one that seems to crop up in just about every business. It can be a real problem in businesses though since it creates a divisive mentality that keeps your employees from really working together as a team. It’s important to get rid of this rivalry or it can create a real damper on your organization’s overall progress in the long term.

Separation vs. Unity

The rivalry between marketing and sales occurs because people in each department end up thinking of themselves as their own unit. They think of themselves as a separate team from the rest of the business. This happens partly because of a positive effect. Basically, department bonding has a lot of positive effects. It means that the people within sales trust each other and work together effectively. But a side effect that can occur is that because they seem other people within the department as their comrades, suddenly everyone outside is not. This is how rivalries can occur.

Cleaning Up Rivalry Tactics

Each side in the rivalry will often bring their own data analyst to meetings in order to try to control the situation. They will even analyze the data from the other department. The one analyst from marketing might look at sales data to show that it’s the marketing campaigns that are bringing in the leads, and the analyst from sales might look at marketing data to try and assert that it’s the sales people that are doing the heavy lifting and that the actual marketing message impacts are minimal. This is the sort of behavior that’s important to get rid of early or it will end up getting entirely out of hand in short order as each side strives to show up the other without actually putting enough thought into how the two sides can work together.

Looking at Biases

The problem with letting analysts spin data for their own agenda is that the truth ends up getting left somewhere along the way. It can be very tempting for people responsible for analyzing data to push the data one way or another in order to benefit their particular department. If they’ve become loyal enough to a particular department, they might have a hard time going back to a room full of glum faces and have to tell them that they didn’t come through in convincing management that their department did the best.

But it’s critical to remind everyone in the room that they work for one company, not for individual departments. You may have to form smaller temporary groups comprised of both sales and marketing people in order to force them to work together and break down some of that rivalry and form them together as a company team and not a sales vs. marketing rivalry scenario. Letting rivalries go unchecked is exactly how company implosion happens and it’s exactly why getting rid of it is so important.