A shift in marketing thought by academics such as Philip Kotler and Robert Bartels throughout the mid to late 20th century (which has spread even further in the 21st century), has only widened the gap between sales and marketing. An increasing reliance on inbound and technology platforms seems to have catapulted marketing into a different direction than where Sales is, and has been sitting comfortably for some time now. An article by Linx back in 2014 asserts that marketing is most definitely the discipline that is changing: “Gone are the days of thinking about marketing as a one-way communication tool.” This is of course in large part to do with advances in technology and changing social behaviours.
This inconsistency between the two disciplines has presented some debate over the years, resulting in squabbling over which department can contribute the most value to a company. Dave Nevogt from Hubstaff doesn’t hold back in this blog post entitled: “Marketing Trumps Sales: How We Built a Million Dollar Business Without Selling.”
But the reality is, sales and marketing departments should be working together rather than separately. Everyone is on the same team so the end goal is the same for all. The extent to which they work together will obviously depend on the size of the company, but there are certainly some key insights that Marketing could learn from Sales, and vice versa.
We’ve identified 5 key reasons why we think that Sales and Marketing should work together, and these are also the 5 reasons why we LOVE that our sales and marketing teams work together:
Although Marketing may be known as the changing discipline, developments in technology have also resulted in sales prospecting becoming more ‘virtual.’ LinkedIn is a great way for Salespeople to connect with new prospects, and sometimes scheduling demos via email is more convenient and more easily done than over the phone.
Also interesting is the fact that Marketing teams engage in lots of email campaigns, so they are well versed in communicating and writing compelling content to appeal to a wide audience. Therefore, it makes sense for this insight to feed into the sales prospecting funnel. Marketing should sit with Sales and provide some tips on how they target their audience through email content.
This can also help Salespeople to better target Marketing Managers, as they may not be au fait with their needs as well as they would a Sales Manager or Business Development Director. Although Salespeople spend most of their time communicating, that little insight from the Marketing team could help to spice up their sales pitches and help to really get that message across.
Having good communication between Sales and Marketing will help tremendously when it comes to analysing the success of campaigns. For example, evaluating an email campaign can be time consuming and complex if there aren’t processes in place to identify each stage of measurement. How do you keep track of the recipients who opened their emails or who clicked on a CTA button? How do you know which leads are the hottest?
This is where having a CRM system works wonders. We use Salesforce, which is a great way for Marketing and Sales to communicate the status of campaign opportunities with one another. Marketing assigns the leads to Sales based on level of engagement from the campaign, which Sales will then follow up with. In the following days, Marketing can then run a campaign report to identify how these leads have progressed along the sales pipeline and assess how successful the campaign was. Having this dialogue between the two departments is vital to ensure that campaigns are measured effectively.
Believe it or not, Sales can actually help to improve a company’s SEO efforts. By talking to customers and prospects on a regular basis, Salespeople are uncovering key insights about their online behaviour. The important saying: “You don’t define your business, your customers define your business” is not something that is always taken on board. Many Marketing teams may think that they know what customers want, but in actual fact, Salespeople are more likely to have a better understanding of the needs and wants of customers – between prospecting, account management and after sales support, they tend to uncover a lot of information.
This can help Marketing to ensure that the website content is relevant and contains the right keywords to improve visibility on search engines. An example could be that the Marketing team decides: “We think people will find us by typing X into Google.” However, the Sales team can actually uncover the facts and relay these back to the Marketing team: “From speaking to customers, we know that they found us by typing X into Google.”
One of the biggest problems that Marketing teams face (or content writing teams in larger companies) is coming up with compelling and original content for their readers. We know that helpful guides and top tips prove very popular in the content marketing realm, but how do writers come up with ideas for each piece of content they write? Doing that on a regular basis can’t be easy.
As mentioned in the previous point about Salespeople communicating with customers, this provides a great opportunity for the Marketing team to turn comments and feedback into a blog post. If a Salesperson can uncover some of the pain points that a customer or prospect has within their business, then why not use this as the subject for an article that could potentially target similar companies who may show an interest in your company?
An example could be that you are a web optimization company, and one of your target segments is online retailers; if the Sales team discovers that a major pain point of these customers is a difficulty in turning browsing into conversions, then it’s likely that this could be an industry wide pain point (in this case, we know it’s industry wide!). This insight should be passed on to Marketing, who could generate a compelling blog post, e.g. “10 Quick Tips on How to Turn Visitors into Customers.” By promoting this post to the right audience, it could pique the interest of online retailers that could ultimately become your customers.
Generating good quality leads for the Sales team will always keep you in their good books. Therefore, the Marketing department should pay extra attention to any interest that comes about via Social Media channels. Several of the hot leads that we had in Salesforce at one point originated from companies that followed us on Twitter. After qualifying that they were good leads to pursue, they were entered into Salesforce straight away and then assigned to the Sales team for follow up.
Depending on time constraints for the Marketing department, a little bit of social media research can go a long way. For example, searching through Twitter hashtags and competitors’ followers could be a good way of generating new leads for the Sales team. Likewise, discussions from LinkedIn groups can be very beneficial in finding new companies and also identifying the right contact for Salespeople to connect with.
These are just some of the reasons why it’s important for Sales and Marketing teams to work together. While some companies have integrated roles that cover both departments, many organisations still operate them in silos. This age-old debate has surely run its course; it’s time to move on and strategize how both departments can work harmoniously and complement each other to continuously retain customers and generate new ones.