fb Are the Sales and Marketing Paths Converging?

Are the Sales and Marketing Paths Converging?

April 17, 2014 | digitalexe |

Given advancements in productivity software and the often matrixed – and simultaneously overburdened – workforces of today, the roles of both the salesperson and the marketer have united in interesting and unexpected ways.

However, as teams are now working closer together than ever before – and it may often seem that each function is now completing one another’s tasks – strategy, leadership, and execution need to live in their respective areas. 

Nowadays, the seeming convergence may appear to inject efficiency into the marketing and sales process, but in order to properly serve an organization’s customer needs, each function should stick to what it does best. 


Content:  What Started It All

What started the seeming convergence of responsibilities is content:  information disseminated by companies in efforts to attract buyers and move them through the marketing funnel. 

Before the development of social channels and the interwebs, buyers – mostly of B2B and professional services – could only receive information in the form of a brochure or a few webpages (‘brochureware,’ as it used to be called).  Calls from the salesperson would lead to discussions and presentations about products and services.  In this model, the salesperson held much more information about his or her company than did the prospect.

The tables have since turned:  buyers are savvier and more informed than ever.  Via Twitter newsfeeds, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn Groups, SlideShare presentations, eBooks, opt-in emails, and even plain-old Google search, a buyer can discover and learn enough information to make a purchasing decision – often without the need for a salesperson to first explain the benefits one-on-one.  According to the December 2013 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey published in DemandGen report, 41% of buyers said they waited longer to initiate contact with B2B vendors than they did a year ago.

As such, many companies are more closely exploring the roles of each, and determining the best way that they can work together in this new marketing content driven paradigm.


Turf Wars, and a Shift in Job Responsibilities

Some sales teams have retooled themselves to better adapt to the process by which prospects discover and learn about a company’s products and services.

While salespeople have always performed their own prospecting, astute sales professionals today have learned to harness LinkedIn and other networks to zero in on the most desirable targets. 

Does this mean that salespeople are performing a marketing function, if they use a social media channel to prospect?  No, as over 277 million business professionals use LinkedIn on a regular basis, so utilizing the network can hardly be seen as a standalone marketing effort.

And if a marketing associate communicates directly with a prospect – would this constitute selling?  No, as doing so would be considered merely a step in the process.  The marketing associate communicating with the prospect should quickly inform sales, and hand it off as appropriate.

In short, marketing helps create demand and generate leads; sales closes them. The two should work together to retain the best tactics and strategy for each area. 


Adding Value, Incrementally and Cyclically

Sales should not be doing marketing – outside of activities that tie directly to selling functions AND that have been agreed upon with marketing.

Communication is key.  Sales teams need to continually let marketing know which messages and channels are resonating the best with customers and prospects; in turn, marketing can use this information to further enhance content which can appeal more strongly to the intended audience. 

A communications cycle results, in which each department adds incremental value to the other.   Forward-thinking companies continually test and evaluate a process that works optimally, given resources that are available.


Final Thought:   While each function should support one another, sales should not be marketing and marketing should not be selling.  The two roles need to work together, and strategy and leadership in each area lives in each respective area.

Additionally, marketing departments can expand their capabilities and assist with sales and sales operations, while sales teams can provide a plethora of insights which can drive fresh content creation by marketing.


Want Help? Contact our team today to ask a question via the form to the right.

ChangeU: for your independent study…

1. B2B TECH BUYERS AND CONTENT MARKETINGhttp://goo.gl/EIB2ol Marketing Charts presents the findings of a B2B technology content survey report, in which over 500 influencers of technology buying decisions revealed their preferences and uses of content assets when evaluating various technology vendors.

2. WHY DO SALES REPS PROGRESS TO MARKETING: http://goo.gl/LDgnmc A Q&A from the Ask.com website on career options for a sales rep. 

3. ENDING THE WAR BETWEEN SALES AND MARKETING: http://goo.gl/fpBbU A Harvard Business Review article on why there seems to be friction between sales and marketing departments and how to more seamlessly integrate them.


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