Too many people think sales and marketing are the same thing. They aren’t. Often, there’s no collaboration between the two. In some organizations, there might be a sales executive who heads up marketing. In other companies, you’ll find a marketing executive who is also responsible for business development. To complicate it further, there are companies that have a sales executive and a marketing executive, who report to the CEO but never talk to each other. That’s a recipe for disaster.
So let’s analyze what’s really going on. It’s been said that the sales activity of a company is the only activity that brings in the dollars. That’s true. Salespeople (or business-development professionals as they are sometimes called) are responsible for closing deals. In other words
- they get the contracts signed,
- they get prospects to part with their money, and,
- they’re the ones who ring up the orders and take in the money.
As part of their job, they need to understand why people buy and the decisions that are made in every sale. They have to know how to present the company’s products or solutions, overcome objections, move the process along to produce a sale and then, in some cases, how to keep customers happy and loyal.
Marketing, on the other hand, brings prospects to the table. A marketing professional is responsible for doing the homework and research required to identify:
- who to sell to,
- what the profile or attributes of prospects and customers are,
- how to reach the target audiences, and,
- how to create a corporate distinction and messaging that matters.
With that knowledge, they will deliver a consistent outreach plan that supports the sales team. In other words, marketing is responsible for generating leads, and sales is responsible for closing the leads.
The Perfect Recipe: Collaboration
When it comes right down to it, both sales and marketing staff want to create the environment that leads to more customers, higher revenue, greater profit margins and a positive reputation in the marketplace. So what can they do to work together to achieve those common goals?
1. Collect data and share it. Analyze what’s going on in the marketplace and determine how the company can take advantage of opportunities for growth.
2. Work together to create actionable sales and marketing plans. We’re not talking about the academic plans that companies produce that end up on the shelf, never to be reviewed and modified again. The sales and marketing teams should conduct monthly reviews of progress toward goals and make any adjustments that are needed to keep everyone on target in the current business environment.
People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” – Zig Ziglar
3. Understand the sales and marketing processes. While some claim selling is a science and marketing is an art, that’s not necessarily true. The reality is both sales and marketing have sets of “best practices” that should be shared with one another.
4. Listen more. Create a working balance. Take advantage of each other’s skill sets through mutual collaboration.
Years ago, salespeople told customers what they wanted and why they wanted it. Today, the customer controls the flow of information and, ultimately, the sales process. As part of this evolution, marketing now holds an equal place at the table alongside the sales team when it comes to customer acquisition. In an aligned organization, sales and marketing are integrated functions that both operate at optimal levels when communication is consistent, clear and honest. This collaboration opens the door for more effective marketing initiatives, increased lead generation and a stronger bottom line.