All too often, I see companies bunching sales and marketing functions under the same umbrella – and in smaller companies, frequently under one person’s job description. In larger companies, the roles are often separated by a wall, and the communication between marketing and sales is infrequent.
Neither scenario is ideal.
The skills needed to be a great salesperson and those needed to be a great marketer are very different – and should be employed by two different people, or two different teams. That said, the skills are also extremely complementary. These are two roles that must work closely together. After all, a marketer typically focuses on the very front end of the sales cycle – generating brand awareness, and driving and nurturing leads – and a salesperson typically takes those leads and runs with them.
There may be some overlap, but the role of a marketer is to understand what the customer is looking for, and to ensure the product and its messaging are line with that need. That includes understanding the needs of different customer segments.
And ideally, as a result, a potential client will self-qualify as he moves through the sales funnel, making the sales team’s job that much easier. In other words, the sales team has warmer leads, which means they’ll have more productive conversations from the get-go, increasing the chances they’ll move that potential client over the finish line.
I generally assign these functions to the marketing role:
- Understand the market
- Generate awareness
- Acquire prospects
- Nurture prospects
And these to sales:
- Qualify prospects
- Active selling
- The sale
Again, there’s often overlap, especially in the acquiring and nurturing prospects stage. And certainly marketing will support stages typically taken on by Sales, such as providing resources to support the process (for example, case studies and testimonials).
David Mastovich correctly noted in a LinkedIn article the differences between the two roles. Sales is a one-to-one relationship-based role that is systematic and requires attention to individual prospects’ needs. Marketing on the other hand is focused on the “one-to-many” approach, with messaging that reaches and influences multiple target audiences. (Read his take here.)
One is more of a 50,000-foot role (however targeted) and the other is on the ground. Both functions are critical, so make sure the two roles are working together in your business to maximize the impact of your sales and marketing investments.
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