In B2B, I often hear people talking about the relationship between marketing and sales. This is very disturbing, because the difference is most of the time presented in a type of conflict of resources and activity. When sales are down, sales teams speak negatively about marketing, and the opposite is true as well. Most of the discussions are attempts to dismiss responsibility.
To me, this is a “chicken or the egg” scenario. Both are necessary to any organization and both have an important responsibility to increase the company’s bottom line. However, in many organizations, top leaders can make the decision to cut marketing activity because it does not show direct, measurable revenue that can be attributed to marketing. Most of the time, sales teams are the final touch that closes the sale, except for B2C where e-commerce websites are usually managed by marketing. In the spirit of Socrates, “The only thing that I know is that I know nothing.” I think that it is fair to ask: what does marketing bring to the bottom line?
- Marketing creates the collective identity of the brand. (See The value of Brand equity.) Marketing ensures that the entire organization is on one accord. Where sales people sell a product to one company, identifying their interest and pain points, marketing is creating awareness and selling the idea to groups of people (segmentation and identification of personas) to generate interest in the first place.
- Marketing presents a product’s benefit and gives sales people the opportunity to succeed in their activity. By giving this direction to the sales team, they don’t have to craft their sales pitch from scratch and they are able to build on the brand’s foundations and values.
- Marketing wants to generate loyalty on the contact over time by keeping the relationship relevant and providing fresh news. This is true even if the prospect is not buying at a given time (customer lifetime value). Sales people want to go the extra mile and sell the product. Don’t get me wrong, sales departments want to keep serving a customer that keeps on buying, but in today’s competitive environment, in order generate interest, we need to create content. We need to manage the current customer and prospects. Let sales people what they do best: Close the sale and be the ambassadors of the brand.
- Cold calling is dead; we need demand (and lead) generation. Most prospects will contact you when they are ready to buy. On marketing’s end, we need to create enough campaigns and generate enough point-of-entries to generate leads that have already been exposed to our brand (8 touchpoints to generate a viable sales lead).
- Even the best sales people need product training. In most organizations, training is managed by product marketing staff that keep the content relevant and present the best go-to strategies that solve customers’ pain points. Sales people turn the training into a story that customers can relate to. Customers are smart. Customers are busy. Customers want a good story with real solutions.
Marketing and sales need each other for an organization to grow. Some may argue that most of these things can be done at the sales level, but if this sales person leaves, the brand equity leaves with him/her.