How often do you hear the phrase “Marketing and Sales”? Much less frequently, I’d suggest, than the classic “Sales and Marketing”. Why so? And which is more correct?
Firstly, Sales as a function is older than Marketing, so perhaps that could be why it still takes pole position.
Marketing as a profession is relatively new – although the Chartered Institute of Marketing has passed its 100th anniversary, so it’s not that new!
Perhaps it could be that Sales is valued more highly than Marketing in some businesses and sectors. After all, Sales is often seen as the function or department that brings in money – the dynamic bunch, on the front line, living by targets.
Marketing, on the other hand, can be perceived as the department which gladly spends the cash (and not always accountably in the eyes of some), ponders intangibles like values and brands, creates pretty pictures, and fusses about which font is being used on the new brochure.
So is Sales seen as more important than Marketing – more real, more down-to earth, more valuable?
Sales and marketing tensions
The reality is that Sales and Marketing will always be lumped together in one way or another, because while they are very different, they are so closely intertwined – although the relationship between the two will vary dramatically between one business and another.
Certainly there will be tensions between the two disciplines, because they view customers and markets in very different ways. At the risk of a huge generalisation, sales can live much more in the immediate, focused on the price and the deal – those sales targets, you see.
Marketing looks at longer term value. Marketing also looks at future trends – which can seem of little relevance to Sales if they’re not yet finding evidence of those issues in the field.
Sales and marketing roles
So how can Sales and Marketing work together? Here are three steps, and a practical framework for working in harmony.
- Step 1. I believe Marketing (as an activity, not necessary a department or job title…) should always start the commercial process – through market analysis, building value, building brands, drawing customers to the company, and creating communications that will engage potential customers. Marketing that pulls customers in and emphasises the right brand values has the power to insulate the company from price sensitivity – so both Sales and Finance people should love Marketing for this reason alone! Marketing should monitor changes in the marketplace, find opportunities, and generate leads. Marketing should also provide Sales with clear messages, and support materials to help them close the deal.
- Step 2. Sales should use the leads and skilfully convert them to buyers. They should be proactive and find opportunities themselves, too. Then they should take a key account management role to nurture customers, cross-sell, up-sell and move them from new converts to loyal brand ambassadors.
- Step 3. Enter Marketing once more. Marketing should then help ensure that customers, once won, are kept – after all, it costs between 5 and 8 times more to win a new customer than keep a current one. Regular communications to the customer base are vital, as are customer satisfaction measures. Marketing should also support Sales by providing materials to help distributors sell, for example brochures, graphics, samples, etc. And Marketing should of course listen to Sales, to interpret what they are finding out in the real-live market place, and feed it back into the planning, branding, and communications… so the whole cycle starts again.
The sales process, or sales funnel
One vital factor for Marketing and Sales success is that both understand and agree on the process by which customers are won, and served. By doing so, the right tools and resources can be put in place to support that process.
Sales and marketing teamwork
Simple, eh? In practice, of course not. But the most important thing is clarity of communication between the two functions, and a clear picture of which team is doing what and why, and how each team can support the other – because it really is a two-way street.
So – should it be “Sales & Marketing”, or “Marketing & Sales”? While as a marketer I naturally want to see marketing given the respect it deserves… the terminology matters less than making sure the teamwork happens.