When I imagine summing up the differences between sales and marketing, my mind wanders to Gus Portokalos’s wedding toast in My Big Fat Greek Wedding: “… We have, ah, apple and orange. We all different, but in the end, we all fruit.” Marketers like myself are the apples of an organization — crisp content, a subtle bite, and (hopefully) a sweet delivery. Sales, on the other hand — sales packs a punch with a decidedly more obvious zest. My people (marketers) educate and inform, and we subtly sell you on things. Salespeople tend to be clearer about their intentions, and those intentions center on one thing: getting you to buy what they’re selling.
In most organizations, marketing and sales don’t even sit together. Because the 2 have inherently different tactics and schools of thought, they don’t always work as well together as they could. The often iffy relationship between marketing and sales invites in an array of problems: disconnected teams, siloed tools, and misaligned views and objectives. How can they join forces for the greater good? (The greater good being a better Customer Experience, increased revenue, and a positive Worker Experience.)
Cause and effect: qualified leads + increased revenue
Last month I attended Demandbase’s Marketing Innovation Summit for B2B in San Francisco — an opportunity for marketers to get together to discuss account-based marketing. During his session, Adam Blitzer, EVP and GM of Sales Cloud at Salesforce, presented the following stats:
- 48 percent of marketers are struggling to personalize customer interactions.
- 42 percent of sales reps feel they don’t have the right information before making a sales call.
- 68 percent of companies haven’t identified their sales funnel.
- 79 percent of marketing leads are never converted to sales.
- Only 46 percent of reps win more than half of potential deals.
In an ideal world, there’d be mutual respect between marketing and sales. Marketing works to get quality leads for sales, and if sales isn’t thrilled with the quality of leads they’re receiving, there’s a disconnect. And everyone feels it — marketing, sales, your customers, and your bottom line. Blitzer’s stats hint at a story — one that begins with more qualified leads and ends with increased revenue.
A meeting of the (sales and marketing) minds
You can lead a salesperson to marketing, but you can’t make them into a marketer (and you wouldn’t want to). Together, sales and marketing should determine what marketing considers to be a qualified lead and what sales considers to be a qualified lead; typically, marketing is deciding qualified leads without any input from sales. That’s a big disconnect to contend with after the fact. Your organization needs to attack it at the source. In his talk, Blitzer spoke about 2-factor lead qualification: interest and fit. Allow me to break it down…
- Interest: We’re talking about tracked behavior, recency of engagement, frequency of engagement, and content consumption; did you know that the average buyer goes through 10 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision? Though it’s often hard to tie revenue to content marketing, this is a good indicator that content matters.
- Fit: Geography, industry, company size, and title… It doesn’t matter if a lead is interested if they don’t have any pull, money, or are located somewhere you don’t do business.
Try this 2-pronged approach
Marketers need to think like salespeople by providing sales with customized templates, nurturing campaigns, timely collaboration, and allowing them to run reports. But qualifying a lead, follow-up, and closing a deal takes a 2-pronged approach, and it involves a great deal of walking a mile in your sales/marketing counterpart’s shoes à la Freaky Friday:
Your sales team needs to act in the moment, and they need to be enabled to do so with relevant, high-quality, marketing-approved assets. Marketing needs to understand how those assets perform so they know what works and what doesn’t, so they can better arm sales. That means tracking engagement and doing quality control on a regular basis.
Your sales and marketing teams have different strengths, but they’re working toward a common goal. It’s time to marry those efforts and see where some hands-on knowledge sharing (and maybe a new seating chart) can take your organization.