Business Development

Sales & Marketing, not Sales Vs. Marketing

Too many organizations draw a hard line between sales and marketing.  The end result is that the sales team feels unsupported, believes that Marketing adds little value and is out of touch with what is happening on the ground.  And they might well be right.  In such organizations, many marketing teams become detached from the immediacy of the business and focus on ‘Marcomms’ activities.

I believe that to be effective a marketing team needs to roll up it’s sleeves.  It must stay in daily contact with the sales team, with the clients and with the market.  It is therefore important to define the role of marketing as accountable for sales results, just like each sales manager is accountable for the revenue in his or her region.

In particular, I embrace marketing roles which include the following accountability:

  • Working on proposals, including designing the offering, pricing and presenting the pitch alongside sales
  • Owning specific business relationships with distributors, key clients and partners.  This may be a ‘rainmaker’ role, but could equally be the primary contact
  • Working hands-on with product management to pilot new solutions and hear first-hand from clients
  • Taking accountability for pricing, and developing rigorous approaches to testing pricing models
  • Being the face of the company at industry events – being on the stage and engaging the audience, not just ‘staffing the booth’

Own the numbers

Marketing teams have made great strides since the advent of digital marketing in building sophisticated dashboards and metrics to which they hold themselves accountable.  Yet many still confuse activity with productivity.  Growing website visits or captured leads is great, but is the team also moving the needle on sales?  Are the leads generated valued by the sales team?  Is the audience you are reaching the most valuable targets? Is the sales team following up and converting to a close?

A good marketing team holds itself accountable to outside stakeholders, not just to it’s own internal metrics.  A good CRM process helps to do this, but not every company is methodical in tracking follow-up in a consistent manner.  Sometimes an internal satisfaction survey is a better instrument to get a gauge on how much value the marketing team is providing, even if this is value as perceived by the sales team.

Balancing short term pressure with long term goals

All of this said, there is a risk for marketing teams that want to be supportive of the sales team: they focus on very short term “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” activities.  This is were strong leadership is required on the marketing team, to make sure the company is achieving results in the short term (such as selectively responding to RFPs and pursuing sales opportunities or driving attendance to company events) while also mapping out activities that will pay off in the longer term (such as planning marketing campaigns, conducting research and developing the overall marketing platform).

Achieving this balance has been a core focus of my work.  You have to ensure that you are delivering results today, while also setting yourself up to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the future!