All in the Family: How to Make Marketing & Sales Teams Work Together Like a Co-Parenting Unit

  • November 7, 2016
  • by:Serhat Pala

Family life is the backbone of American culture. It shapes our lives, affects our future and defines our past. It is the strongest of units that a person can belong to and it’s the ultimate support system.

So, seeing as how family is such an important part of the culture here, we can use it to help us understand how marketing and sales teams can work together better.

Mom and Dad

In our family analogy, the sales and marketing teams are the parents, and the products are the children. I will be assigning traditional parental roles to the marketing and sales arms (which are in no way a reflection of contemporary parental roles, so save your righteous indignation for something that’s actually worth getting upset over).

Sales, in our analogy, has the more traditional paternal role; that of the disciplinarian who sees issues as a matter of more yes/no or black/white without the shades of grey and nuances that are always present. He sees decisions as being easy to make, coming down on either one side or the other.

Photo Credit: Drew Hays

On the other hand, Marketing plays the more traditional maternal role; more protective and patient with the sales process and the children/products. Marketing can take things on a more personal level when the Products are criticized and they more easily get upset.

The way Sales and Marketing look at the kids and how they can get ready for life is different.

Life happens, the traditional father, Sales, says, and the kids/Products just have to learn to deal with it as it comes. The more experience the kids have, the better for them, as it will mean they’ll be more prepared for the hardships of life.

And, if revenue isn’t pouring in, Sales is more likely to say there is a problem with the Products than the sales process and believes the Products need to change. Marketing, on the other hand, usually trusts the Products more and wants to see them succeed just the way they are and believes the sales process needs to change rather than the Products themselves.

So, for the parenting to work, and for the family to be happy and for the kids grow up and be successful adults, we can use some good parenting tips for dear ol’ mom and dad; Marketing and Sales.

Have Coparent Unity

This is one of the most important factors in good parenting. Just like a mother and father, Marketing and Sales should convey a unified front.

To help facilitate this, try to have one person from each department understand that they are expected to make sure Sales and Marketing work together cohesively. This will be part of these people’s jobs and they will have a specified goal to work toward. They can be the head of their respective departments and the person that gives them their goal can be the CEO if it’s a small company, or someone a bit further down the ladder if it is a larger organization.

This will go a long way to making both Marketing and Sales understand that they are on the same boat (a luxury romantic cruise, in the case of our parenting team), going to the same place (… let’s say the Bahamas). The point is, their individual success is as good for them as it is for each other and having someone in each department to help steer both their individual and team success will be beneficial.

Proper Two-Way Communication

Just like a marriage, there needs to be civil communication, where both Marketing and Sales can express their opinions and listen to each other. It’s up to top management to create the company culture and mechanisms within the company to make this work.

Part of creating this culture can be organizing team building activities between the two departments. A strong Sales-Marketing team — that is, one that acts like a team — is an amazing asset for any company. So investing time, money and resources in building this with consultants and/or events is well worth the effort.

Also, keep the sales people close to marketing people in the office. Your Marketing and Sales people have to know each other well and they have to enjoy each other’s company (or at least be able to fake it during work hours).


Whatever the problems or challenges are, calmness should be present in the family. If you are in a reactive mode, and doing what you do based on stress, it can more easily lead to blaming each other if sales revenue isn’t coming in. Calmness should permeate the entire company in an ideal situation. The constant threat of job loss or being reprimanded if something doesn’t work leads to a stressful environment and finger pointing.

Maintaining a calm environment within the company means the CEO should not practice any favoritism between Sales and Marketing. Even if they consciously try to avoid it, most CEOs will have a hard time with this since they are either more sales or more marketing oriented. But, if the CEO is a fair leader, that will make it much easier for the sales and marketing teams to work together.

Also adding to this calm environment is taking the time to celebrate and recognize achievements from both parents. Especially at the beginning, make sure you don’t miss any chance of recognizing the good team relationship and celebrating victories (no matter how small they might be).

To get some achievements to recognize, it’s not a bad idea to give both Sales and Marketing a little starter nudge by giving them some easy opportunities to be successful so they can see how well they work together. There is nothing as good as the taste of success to make Marketing and Sales want to work together more and aim higher.

A couple of simple starter projects to help the success start flowing are finding old customers for Sales to win back, or having Marketing come up with an insanely attractive offer to get new customers. You just need one or two small successes to bring Sales and Marketing together into a cohesive team and get them in the habit of working together.

A Note on Single Parents

Just like single parent families, you can have companies with only the single function of marketing/sales. For that to work, the single parent must take on both traditional parenting roles. So, a sales team would have to take on the role of marketers or vice versa. Just like single parent families can work perfectly well in real life, the “single parent” sales and marketing function can work perfectly fine within a company provided it’s balanced.

By being raised with a strong, positive and balanced parental influence (whether that be by a team or singular), children can easily grow to become successful and well-rounded adults. And, just like real children, Products — provided they are developed from a sound concept and of good value — can be successful if they, too, have that balanced parental approach from the traditional mom and dad roles of Marketing and Sales to create one happy family.

Photo Credit: Andrew Branch

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