Imagine two tribes in prehistoric times. They both have the same goals: To be safe from danger of any kind, to have food, shelter and a good life for their children.

Let's also assume that all of these goals for both tribes, are not mutually exclusive or zero-sum, and not only that, but their goal can be more easily achieved together.

But somehow, somewhere along the lines, each tribe got the mistaken notion that the other one was a danger. They somehow believed that they didn't have the same goals, and even worse that the other tribe was actually preventing them from their goals.

While this could also be a good analogy for modern-day politics, for our purposes these two tribes are sales and marketing departments in modern-day business.

Sales and Marketing: What's the Difference?!

Both sales and marketing departments often find themselves in this misguided war with each other, in spite of the fact that they're technically working for the same goals, for the same company, with the same customer base.

You may ask, what is the real difference between sales and marketing in the first place?

To an outsider, the difference is subtle. But to the two departments themselves, they'll tell you they're as different as night and day.

Their perceived differences, however, are as absurd as the Yooks and the Zooks in Dr. Seuss's The Butter Battle Book. Each side thinks they are buttering their bread on the correct side, but in reality it doesn't matter, because they're both just buttering bread!

The same is true with sales and marketing. Each department just has a different focus and a different angle. 

Marketing consists of strategies to measure reach and persuade prospects that your company is the right one for them. It works to prepare the prospect for the eventual sale. This can entail "advertising, public relations, social media, relationship marketing, brand marketing, viral marketing, and direct mail."

Sales, on the other hand, entails interpersonal interaction. This might mean a one-on-one meeting, cold calling, or networking. These are avenues to engage the prospect or potential customer in a personal way and close via a "sale." A good portion of the time it is marketing efforts that drive the prospect to this potential closing point.

Sibling Rivalry: The Long Battle Between Sales and Marketing

In spite of this obvious connection in the way the two departments can work together efficiently, there are definite gaps existing between the two departments. In general, sales and marketing just don't get along. According to a survey highlighted in the Harvard Business Review, "87 percent of the terms sales and marketing use to describe each other are negative." 

On the flip side, when sales and marketing have a working relationship, there is a marked improvement seen in performance metrics such as sales cycle length, market-entry costs, and the cost of sales.

Smarketing: 5 Practical Tips for Bringing Sales and Marketing Together

With this background in mind, it becomes more apparent that knowledge and awareness, and taking a few practical steps forward, can help bridge this gap. Here are 5 ways to do just that.

1. Meta-leadership

You don't necessarily need to treat the departments like two feuding children, but it also won't hurt!

Someone in higher-level leadership, above both departments, needs to clearly establish that the company and the customer will suffer if the two departments aren't engaged with each other in an enlightened way.

This can be taken on by a Manager, VP, or CEO, but someone needs to pave the way for the two departments to think in macroscopic, rather than microscopic, ways. Which leads to tip #2.

2. Put the company and the customer ahead of individual group differences

This needs to be the driving part of your company culture, as far as these two departments are concerned.

If either department has a mission statement or vision that starts and ends with their own department only, and doesn't include the greater good of the company and the customer, it is bound to cause the same problems we've been discussing.

3. Verbally agree on a mutual goal

In line with the previous two tips, a stated goal, that both departments opt-in to, is a key to making this work in a realistic way.

Both departments should agree in the statement that sales and marketing are both working to grow the company in valid and meaningful ways that are interconnected.

Establish what this means in measurable ways that can be articulated.

Both departments want more customers, more brand awareness and more profits, so show them how they can work together to do this. Get both sides not only nodding their heads together with you, but verbally stating their agreement, so there is no possibility of a misunderstanding.

4. Frequent face-to-face meetings

While you don't necessarily need to have the two departments go on team-building retreats and sing together by a campfire, you can certainly have them regularly meet, communicate, and tangibly enhance the feeling of being on the same team

The more they see each other face-to-face, have dialogue, and establish personal relationships, the better chance these invisible and imaginary divisions will not manifest as real animosity.

5. Realistic Expectations

Remind them that sales and marketing don't have to become best friends or become indistinguishable blobs that are exactly alike.

There is even something beneficial to the tension that naturally exists between the two, so long as they are working together. The two departments can serve as checks and balances, each one complementing the other where they have weaknesses.

Two Flavours, One Delicious Dish

Just like two flavours that aren't that great on their own, but taste amazing together; sales and marketing are incomplete individually, but a dynamic duo when in harmony.

Each department can retain their own distinct flair, while sacrificing the false concepts that surround the illusory division of sales and marketing. 

With these two working together in tandem, expect not only better morale and better sales metrics, but the magic that results when any two groups set aside their differences and work together for the greater good.