The gang at the Never Work Alone blog have a fantastic post describing some of the solutions to the Introverted IT / Extroverted Sales-Marketing integration issue.[here]
The best points:

  • When hiring, place a premium on being able to explain technical issues to users and determine whether they’ve mastered the material. Expect this to cost more.
  • Offer raises for taking training in oral technical communication
  • Offer “days off” learning the essential business function of the department. You don’t understand what they do, they often don’t really GET what you do either, nor why its important – gieve them a chance to understand each other
  • Train non-IT staff to repeat back in their own words what the IT person explained to them and confirm that they got it right (a good idea for any complex communication)

My eternal salvation comes from falling into the first category listed above. I can tear apart a packet trace and spot issues at the TCP layer, and then turn around and explain this issue to the VP of Marketing in terms that she can understand, and are relevant to her.
That is not dumbing it down, as many IT people feel. This strategy (or survival mechanism) allows a technical person to appeal to a wider audience. Being recognized across your organization, not just in your team, leads to greater rewards in the long run.