The lines between B2B marketing and selling sometimes appear to blur. This is especially true as routes to market (channels) change, blend and expand. And the online world we live in simply exaggerates the blur to where the differences between marketing and sales seems almost indistinguishable.
Let’s be really clear. Despite all of the confusion and, perhaps, a desire for business to blur the two, marketing does not equal sales. It never has and never will.
To be sure, marketing and sales are very complimentary and have some activities that may appear to be similar. Despite this, marketing and sales disciplines are very different and should be viewed, invested in, executed and measured differently from the other.
How is marketing different than sales? In these ways:
1. Strategic air cover. Marketing creates a better sales environment by providing needed information to the market and prospects, ahead of sales engagement. The goal of selling is to close a deal.
2. Tactical support. Marketing provides the necessary tools that enable a clearer, consistent selling environment. Sales uses the tools created by marketing to create an effective, brand-consistent set of expectations in prospects and customers.
3. Brand responsibility. Marketing has the responsibility to help the market understand and prefer your company’s brand, first and foremost. Then, as secondary responsibilities, to help the market and customers understand your products and services. Sales concentrates on selling your products and services within the brand but rarely carries any brand-related responsibilities.
4. Strategic outcomes. Marketing creates and executes a strategy to become a multi-dimensional market leader. Whereas sales is about closing deals through 1:1 connection, in a one-at-a-time manner.
5. Influence. Marketing creates awareness and interest, through shaping influence and preference across targeted segments within a market. Sales is concerned with asking a prospect to buy based on product and service benefits.
6. Campaigns. The world of marketing is lived on a campaign-by-campaign basis, within a high-level strategic plan. The world of sales is a prospect-by-prospect, deal-by-deal effort within a quarter-to-quarter tactical plan.
7. Relevancy. Creating brand relevancy is the domain of marketing. Asking prospects to “enter into the brand,” through a purchase decision, is the domain of sales.
8. Establish customer experience. Marketing implants expectations, beliefs and value of your business’s customer experience. Sales turns those expectations and beliefs into benefit by inviting and closing prospects into purchase decisions and action.
9. Process stage. Marketing starts before selling begins. Marketing identifies market segments and targeting, defines value propositions and competitive positioning, packages brand, product and services for understanding and creates overarching strategies for market-attack. Sales takes place when the salesperson meets the prospects and engages into the sales process.
In the end, a marketer is not a salesperson; nor is a salesperson a marketer. To blur these lines creates disadvantage to a business’s ability to impact market and close deals—an inability to meet or exceed business objectives.
What’s a business to do?
A. Organize properly. Recognize that marketing and sales are two different disciplines. Organize your business to have people dedicated to marketing and others dedicated to sales.
B. Hire right. Seek out, find, evaluate and hire the best marketing talent you can find. Those that have deep, proven brand, product and services marketing experience—along with a track record of working closely with sales teams. Similarly, find and hire consistently and predictably performing salespeople—those that know the numeric sales goals and can hit them.
Don’t hire “switch hitters” or “jack-of-all-trade” people. While they may know a lot and be able to play in varied “sandboxes,” they are rarely really good, high performers at the very thing you need.
C. Strategize and plan properly. Focus marketing on strategic planning, supported by tactical campaign activities. Focus sales on tactical territory, prospect, lead, opportunity and deal achievement activities. Couple all strategies, plans, activities, expectations and rewards into an overall, integrated marketing and sales plan for your company.
D. Define process and integration. To execute to the greatest level of performance, make sure that you have defined clear and simple marketing and sales processes. Establish well understood expectations and rewards for performance. Integrate the marketing and sales processes in an end-to-end manner and communicate the importance of working together to meet business objectives.
E. Continuously measure and improve. Create appropriate and distinct metrics for marketing. Do the same for sales. The metrics you have for marketing should be different than those for sales. Then, identify shared (marketing and sales) metrics and where determined metrics must be integrated. Have an end-to-end view (target, campaign, response, lead, prospect, opportunity, closure and win-loss) to the performance of your marketing and sales organization. Get the date, double down on what works, eliminate and change what isn’t working.
F. Get outside help. It’s common to assume that a business has all the marketing and sales talent it needs and that any changes in marketing and sales can be internally completed. Don’t succumb to this thinking and action.
In fact, in working with hundreds of companies over 25 years, it is a proven fact that internal marketing and sales organizations are often the least prepared to identify, validate, undertake and complete necessary change—largely because their behavioral “purpose” is to perpetuate the status quo.
Don’t be shy in finding and using proven, predictable and cost-effective outside resources, skill, experience, methods and tools. They know what works and what doesn’t better than internal resources. Using outsiders accelerates change, improves results and puts your company in the best position possible to achieve your growth and value objectives.
The Afterburner Group has been improving and building marketing and sales success for companies in the technology, energy, services, manufacturing and non-profit industries for over 25 years.
If you think that your marketing and sales efforts are suffering or could benefit from an assessment, refresh and re-energizing, fill out the contact form below and let’s explore what that would look like and how you’d benefit.
Make marketing, sales work.
©1997-2019, Afterburner Group LLC. All rights reserved. BUSINESSFUELS is a registered trademark.