The Sales vs Marketing Saga
We can all agree that both the Sales and Marketing disciplines have seen their fair share of changes over the last number of years, with advances in technology and academic research being held largely responsible. What doesn’t seem to have changed however, is the divide between these two disciplines. Some organisations combine the sales and marketing role into one, while others kept the two so separate, that they don’t even work on the same floor. Recently, a colleague of mine reminisced about his time as a sales rep in a busy telecommunications company: “It was a nightmare. Marketing would give us terrible leads to pursue, and then complain that we weren’t making sales. We would be going crazy at each other.”
The age old debate of Sales vs Marketing appears to be rearing its ugly head again and again; even this article by DMN offers advice on what to do when Sales and Marketing collide – as if it is an inevitable occurrence.
Being in such a tense atmosphere surely can’t make for an enjoyable working environment, and endless bickering over which department can contribute the most value to an organisation will only continue to widen this gap between the two even further. In reality, there is no reason why a Sales and Marketing team can’t work together harmoniously to achieve the elusive feat of winning and retaining customers – the end goal; the big win; the reason why everyone is there. Believe it or not, there are quite a few insights that a Sales team can learn from a Marketing team, and vice versa:
1. Improve Sales Prospecting
LinkedIn is becoming a very popular method for Salespeople to extend their business network and enhance their prospecting opportunities. In addition to this, our ever-increasing reliance on technology and constant connectivity means that product demos and meetings are sometimes more easily scheduled via email or other online forums, rather than over the phone.
It’s also widely known that the Marketing team is often responsible for executing and managing email campaigns, and are therefore well versed in communicating and writing compelling content to appeal to a wide audience. With this insight, it could be beneficial for members of the Sales and Marketing teams to sit together and discuss their outreach methods. For example, Marketing can share ideas on how they target their audience through email content, and perhaps offer ‘best practice’ tips to the Sales team when sending emails, e.g. content structure, compelling subject lines, etc.
2. Communication: Better Campaign Measurement
Having good communication between Sales and Marketing will help tremendously when it comes to analysing the success of a campaign. 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 can 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?
Having a CRM system is hugely advantageous in answering these questions – it’s a great way for Marketing and Sales to communicate the status of campaign opportunities with one another. Although some CRM systems can be expensive with complex oboarding, even having some sort of internal communication system will help to maintain control over campaigns and their progress.
In the case of having a CRM system, the process could look like this: Marketing assigns leads to Sales based on level of engagement from the campaign Sales then follows up using the contact data that Marketing has provided Marketing can then run a campaign report a few days later to identify how these leads have progressed through the sales pipeline, and assess how successful the campaign was. Having this dialogue between the Sales and Marketing departments is vital to ensure that campaigns are measured effectively.
3. Improve On-Page SEO
Strange as it may sound, the Sales team can actually help to improve SEO. By nature, Salespeople spend a lot of time talking to customers and prospects, all the while uncovering key insights about their online behaviour. Simultaneously, Marketing teams can be working off a different mindset, believing that they know exactly what customers want. 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 uncover a lot of information.
This insight is hugely positive for the Marketing team. This knowledge can help to ensure that the website content is relevant, and contains the right keywords to improve visibility on search engines. An example could be the Marketing team’s belief: “We think people will find us by typing X into Google.” However, based on recent customer feedback uncovered by the Sales team, they can relay these facts back to the Marketing team: “From speaking to customers, we know that they actually found us by typing X into Google.”
4. Generate Better Content Ideas
Similar to helping SEO, Salespeople many also unknowingly provide great content ideas for the Marketing team. 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?
As the Sales team communicates regularly with customers and prospects, this provides a great opportunity for the Marketing team to turn comments and feedback into a blog post. If a Salesperson can uncover pain points that a customer faces 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 their company?
An example could be a web optimization company whose main target segment 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.”
5. Generate Good Sales Leads
It’s safe to say that anyone who can generate good quality leads for the Sales team will always have a place in their good books! With that in mind, the Marketing department should pay close attention to any interest that comes about via Social Media channels or other online forums. If anything, these are the best leads to have because they are inbound and they are often highly relevant. Providing the Sales team with good inbound leads will more likely increase their chances of conversion, and thus reduce the likelihood of arguments over poor quality leads.
Depending on time constraints for the Marketing department, even a tiny bit of social media research can go a long way. Searching through Twitter hashtags and competitors’ followers could be a good way of generating new outbound leads for the Sales team to pursue. Likewise, online directories and discussions from LinkedIn groups can be very beneficial in finding new companies, and also identifying the right contact for Salespeople to connect with.
6. Improving User Experience
Marketing people by their nature are inquisitive, and love to partake in research to determine consumer behaviour and its impact on ROI. Suffice to say that they also love web analytic tools, which are great in helping to uncover customers’ online behaviour and level of engagement on a website. These insights can be a huge advantage to the Sales team, particularly if customers spend a lot of time on the company’s website, e.g. a SaaS company with an app or interactive platform.
A tool like Mouseflow provides great opportunity for the Marketing team to study a person’s behaviour on the website/app, and then relay this information back to the Sales team. Just how Sales can help Marketing with SEO and content ideas, Marketing can help Sales to improve the user experience of a website by outlining usage problems or areas for improvement. An example for this could be a customer not using a particular search function correctly, or using an ineffective tool – this is where the Salesperson can reach out to the customer and help to improve their user experience and minimise the chance for them to feel frustrated or even cancel their subscription.
These are just some of the many 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 and their paths rarely cross in a positive manner. Ultimately, everyone is on the same team, and this age-old debate has surely run its course by now. It’s time to move on and strategise how both departments can work harmoniously and complement each other to continuously meet and exceed the goals of the organisation.
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- 6 Reasons Why B2B Sales and Marketing Teams Need to Work Together – March 28, 2017