Why can’t sales and marketing just get along? It would be in everyone’s best interest if we could all just sit down, sing Kumbaya, and share our peace pipe!

When you drill down into the complexities of each of their personalities, sales and marketing fall on both ends of the spectrum; either they are far too similar, or they are totally different. The key to their alliance, is finding a bridge between the two.

Where does the sales development team fit in?

In most cases, the sales development team is sandwiched between sales and marketing. They are forced to bow to both departments, scrambling to meet each and every request. Rather than running around trying to keep both parties satisfied, sales development teams should act as a buffer, providing a voice of reason between the two departments. Sales development teams are an untapped resource in determining the true effectiveness of the teams they support. They are able to offer unbiased feedback (good or bad), and provide insight from both sides. They should be thought of as an internal consultant that can provide a neutral analysis on what is and isn’t working.

Does that mean a new department needs to be created?

One way to bridge the gap between the two departments, is by creating a third department independent of sales and marketing. What should we call this department? This is where it gets tricky. The problem is that we all have different terms for this function. Marketing tends to call it “Demand Generation”, and sales prefers to call it “Opportunity Generation”. As a result, it creates a shared ownership issue which can lead to the problem of each department wanting to dictate their own agenda into the program. The “Lead Generation” Department does not sound particularly sexy, but it doesn’t gravitate towards either marketing or sales, which is exactly the stance of the sales development team. Building a team that is neutral is the way to go.

Where to start

If you’re considering building a sales development team, you need to start by identifying where they sit within your org chart. In a perfect world, all three departments—Sales, Marketing, and Sales Development, would all report up to the same department head whether that be a CRO or CEO. Once it is determined where the sales development team will live, it is time to dictate what their responsibilities will include. What tasks will they handle for marketing? What function will they serve to the sales team?

There is no cookie cutter template of what a sales development team should look like, nor what their responsibilities should entail. Every team is different, and needs around marketing and sales vary from company to company. The one thing that can be derived here, is that having a sales development team can help sales and marketing play a little nicer.

What are your thoughts? Is sales development better off answering to sales, marketing, or both?