Again and again in the B2B marketing world, I am faced with the challenges derived from the delineation between sales and marketing. How do you measure the effectiveness of marketing vs. sales efforts? Where do you draw the line between a lead that needs more nurturing or is ready to be handed over to sales? How do you manage the gaps that exist between sales and marketing?
By definition, marketing is a set of activities used to gain prospects and increase brand awareness while sales is the process which is used to gain a customer. Marketing tactics can include; advertising, newsletters, public relations, webinars and direct mail. Examples of sales efforts include; lunch and learns’, one-on-one meetings, follow-up calls, emails and public speaking. Without a strong marketing strategy, you will have little or no prospects and without an effective sales plan you may find you have a dismal closing rate.
Converting a prospect to a sale often takes a fine balance between marketing and sales efforts. Especially in B2B marketing, where the sales cycle is typically longer, there needs to be a symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing while a lead travels from cold to hot. There is probably no other time in the relationship where information sharing between these two groups is more important. Marketing depends on sales to properly record prospect sources and details, while sales relies on marketing for the tools necessary to move that prospect along. Without this synergy, a prospect at any stage can potentially be lost.
All too often I have seen a great divide between the marketing department and sales. To the point where if you ask someone from marketing to explain the pricing structure of the program or service, the answer could be ‘I don’t know’. Or, conversely, I’ve heard from the sales team ‘I had no idea they just mailed out a new flyer with a product discount’. Having the marketing team regularly attend sales meetings’ is crucial while at the same time having a fixed meeting time for both groups to meet and discuss the marketing tactics in the pipeline is necessary as well. Sales all too often have the answers that marketing needs to develop the most engaging tools. So there is great value in checking in and ensuring your marketing efforts make sense to the group who typically knows the target market best. On the flip side, sales needs to believe in marketing campaigns that are based on research, results, and historical records developed by their marketing department.
In the end we must not forget that although there may be only a fine line between sales and marketing at times, there is a line. This line exists for a reason; the two groups require different skill sets to achieve outstanding results. And while they both operate independently, communication, knowledge and understanding are three keys necessary to bridge the gap between marketing and sales.