How The Bridge (@TheBridgeFX) Models the Need for Sales and Marketing Alignment

August 17, 2013


A woman is found murdered at a border crossing between Mexico and The United States. Arriving at the scene are detectives Sonya Cross (from El Paso, Texas) and Marco Ruiz (from Juarez, Mexico). Still in its first season, The Bridge (on FX) is about the partnership between Cross and Ruiz to solve the murder.

They come from different cultures, speak different languages and have personalities that are diametrically opposed to one another. Most organizations have a similar pairing: Sales and Marketing.

And while the backdrop is far less extreme than a murder case, Sales and Marketing can’t achieve their objectives without working with one another. The same goes for Cross and Ruiz.

Let’s consider five ways the Cross/Ruiz partnership models the relationship between Sales and Marketing.

1) Success depends on working together, not working alone.

Sales and Marketing need to work together

We’re still early in season 1 of The Bridge, but it’s safe to say that the killer will only be found if Cross and Ruiz work together. I doubt either one will crack the case by working alone.

In an organization, Marketing may hit its MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) goal and Sales may hit its quota, but sustainable success only happens when both parties are fully aligned. Marketing can continue to crank out MQL’s, but if they’re not sensitive to the quality of MQL’s delivered, then Sales may fall short of their quota.

2) Different backgrounds can combine to make harmony.

Cross and Ruiz are from different countries and different cultures. They are completely unlike one another. If it weren’t for the murder case, they might have a hard time sustaining a conversation. That being said, my guess is that the distinct background and perspective each brings will combine to help solve the case.

Similarly, it can be a good thing that salespeople and marketers think and act differently. We can take advantage of the unique background and approaches of each to create harmony (and success).

3) They need to find a common language.

Cross and Ruiz as Sales and Marketing

While in Juarez, Ruiz speaks Spanish to the locals. When collaborating with Cross, he speaks English (the common language between them). Sales and Marketing need to find a common language as well. This starts with basic terminology and continues with definitions of lead, MQL, Sales Qualified Lead and Sales Accepted Lead.

Just as Cross and Ruiz look for suspects, Sales and Marketing should collectively determine how to spot suspects vs. leads. In other words, alignment often means lead scoring rules that both parties agree on.

4) Unilateral decisions can come back to haunt both parties.

In episode 1, Ruiz allows a car to proceed through the border crossing, even though Cross forbid the car from doing so. It remains to be seen what comes of Ruiz’s unilateral decision, but I imagine it will have significance in later episodes.

Marketing may decide on a last-minute conference sponsorship without informing Sales (or vice versa). Unilateral decisions like this compromise alignment and do far more damage than good.

5) They need to appreciate the perspective of the other.

While I don’t expect Cross and Ruiz to become best friends, my guess is that over time, they’ll come to appreciate the perspective of the other. And with that, they’ll develop a bond of sorts, which will help them make progress on the case.

Similarly, Marketing needs to put themselves in the shoes of Sales (and vice versa). If Marketing can understand the demands and challenges of a salesperson, then their marketing programs can be more effective. And if Sales can understand the same of Marketing, it’ll create a healthier relationship.


The challenge put forth to Cross and Ruiz? Solving a murder case. The challenge for Sales and Marketing? Revenue.

Both parties need to come together to make it happen. Perhaps they should meet each other half-way: in the middle of The Bridge.

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