Marketing’s No.1 Client: Sales

Credit to Rick Kean, CBC, Managing Director of the Business Marketing Institute, LLC

FUSION_B2B_SalesMarketing professionals and sales teams are partners, (at least in theory) and now, more than ever, keeping the relationship between the two in-sync and productive is absolutely critical to success. It’s supposed to work like this: Marketing sets the stage, creates a positive perception, and generates the lead through the marketing program, but ultimately it takes the Sales team to get the order. Likewise, a Sales team talks value, solutions, numbers and provides promises of delivery, but it relies on Marketing to build a clear understanding of the company, its reputation, its products and its place in the market. Marketing establishes the right enviornment for Sales. But several things have to happen to get us on the same page, and as a marketer, this is your responsibility:

  • Marketing Managers must tap their sales teams for information: Information-sharing is a good thing. The Sales force has to be an information source for marketing, and define the selling problems for each particular type of customer or potential customer. Marketers, in turn, need to actively solicit information and give that information the weight it deserves when making decisions on the marketing program. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems make this easier to accomplish. By having everyone use the same data, full accountability becomes possible. And that information makes it easier for everyone to see which marketing activity is actually responsible for a given sale;
  • Marketers must be active throughout the entire sales cycle: The marketing department must become involved in the selling process, and must dramatically and effectively communicate product and service benefits (value) to the prospect to help prospects become informed potential customers. Getting Marketing involved in the core of the sales process expands Marketing’s mission, and lets the Sales department gain a fuller appreciation of what Marketing does. It also gives Marketing a better understanding of the challenges faced by Sales;
  • Measurement doesn’t stop at counting sales leads: Way too many marketing teams focus on just the first two steps in the sales process—awareness and consideration—yet do nothing for the preference and purchase phases of the marketing process. We take comfort in the belief that our job is primarily to influence success, not to drive it. So it’s entirely possible, at least in our own minds, to claim success for a marketing program without seeing a direct net increase in sales;
  • Chasing fuzzy concepts makes Marketing irrelevant to Sales: When marketing becomes less about top-line revenue (i.e., sales) and more about “brand” or “awareness,” linkage to the sales team’s need to actually drive revenue breaks down. And then the inefficiency starts to occur as Sales, left without any real support on the preference and purchase phases, creates its own marketing services organization, often referred to as “field marketing.” The time has come for B2B marketers to show they can build programs that drive a sales number; Getting it done makes marketers instrumental. If we want to elevate our status from corporate bullhorn to driver of our company’s go-to-market strategies and tactics, we need to focus on two core goals: 1.) Feeding the sales machine today, and 2.) Driving the strategic push to define what’s next. In other words, we need to be doers, not dreamers.

It’s becoming widely accepted that the most effective measure of marketing ROI is its impact on sales. Marketing should be viewed as an enabler, not part of the power struggle. Because Sales, not Marketing, is rightly or wrongly perceived as the function responsible for generating revenue, in any company where Marketing ceases to become an enabler and focuses more on power struggles with Sales, Marketing will lose. And as a marketer, you can significantly increase your job security by aligning with and supporting the sales organization. For marketing managers and those on the agency side who serve them, delivering results matters. So does thinking strategically, being persuasive, politically adroit, and having a significantly broader organizational awareness. So, you can forget the theoretical marketing mumbo-jumbo espoused by consultants and the writers of marketing textbooks. Supporting Sales is Marketing’s real job, and, as a marketing professional, your company’s sales staff is your number one client.

Rick Kean, CBC, is Managing Director of the Business Marketing Insitute, LLC

1 Comment

  1. Tom MacDonald

    Hi Brain
    I’m are working on a strategic plan for our construction group and wondered if there were any industry standards around classification in rating Clients as A,B,C
    If so, could you forward a set of definitions

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