Sales and marketing teams are both working to increase revenue for an organization, but the roles and strategies are significantly different. At some companies, these two departments will compete with one another or see one as more important than the other. However, sales and marketing should be working together to drive bigger and better results for an organization. HubSpot coined the term “smarketing” to describe the power of proper alignment between these two crucial roles.
A marketer and salesperson at one company will communicate with each other regularly to hold one another accountable. The marketer will ensure the salesperson is following up on leads gathered from the content being produced and posted on various platforms. The salesperson will hold the marketer accountable for targeting the right audience with the right content. There are a lot of unfortunate misconceptions about sales and marketing. Some people assume sales is all about deception and getting the customer to buy regardless of their needs. On the flip side, others think marketing is artsy and irrelevant to the company’s bottom line.
Let’s start by throwing these misconceptions in the trash and acknowledge that marketing and sales are on the same team. At the end of the day, both want to add value to the customer.
A Difference in Distance From the Buyer
Inbound marketers spend a lot of time attracting leads by creating valuable content. Marketers do this by answering customer questions and providing generous information. But, there’s a distance between the customer and the marketer. They’ll send emails, post blogs, build websites and engage on social media, but spend very little time face-to-face with the actual buyer of a product or service.
Marketers help guide customers through the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. In this stage, the buyer realizes they have a problem, but they usually can’t name it. The marketer then creates educational information like ebooks, white papers and blogs filled with expert content to help the customer learn more about their problem. Sometimes, the marketer will see an email address, IP address or even a Facebook profile, but won’t interact with the customer in-person.
In contrast, selling involves close proximity to the customer. Engagement occurs more often in a one-on-one format. The salesperson will work with customers in the consideration or decision stage of the buyer's journey. The customer will have confidence in the brand because of the marketing efforts and generous information the company provides in the early stages of the buyer’s journey. But, the selling stage will help turn a qualified lead into a customer.
Stage Designers vs. Performers
Every play needs a stage set and actors. Without one or the other, the production won’t be inspiring. Similarly, every company needs marketing and sales. It isn’t uncommon for these two functions to operate in entirely different departments, and yet every business needs both for success. The marketing efforts are responsible for setting the stage and designing the props for a successful sales team.
The sales team uses the information acquired from marketing efforts such as gated pieces of quality marketing content to obtain emails and phone numbers of sales qualified leads. They work to bring the buyer to the decision stage by pitching the products or services. When the sales team and marketing team are working in sync, the buyer enjoys the journey from the awareness to decision stage in the same way they’d appreciate a well-produced play.
Storytelling vs. Influence
Marketing leverages the art of storytelling to engage buyer personas. Every writer begins with an audience in mind, and every marketer is producing content based on data from their target customer.
In marketing, storytelling helps customers become the main character of a brand by helping them recognize the conflict in their life and introducing solutions to their problems. Marketers speak with customers by sharing their company’s story, the product’s story and by designing engaging and relatable content. Selling is the business of influence. When a buyer decides to engage with a salesperson, they’re likely entering the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. The sales objective at this point is leveraging influence to help the customer feel confident in their choice
Attract and Convert vs. Close and Delight
Companies using the inbound methodology to reach more customers will attract, convert, close and delight customers. The marketing team brings strangers to the company website and introduces them to the brand. Then, they convert those strangers into leads and hand them off to the sales team. The sales team spends a lot of time in the close and delight stages of the inbound methodology. Their mission is to lead and influence customers to buy. However, we must mention that both roles spend time in all stages of the inbound methodology. Sometimes marketers assist in the delight stage, and sometimes salespeople will play a part in the convert stage.
What’s the Endgame?
In marketing, the endgame is often supported by data like the number of visitors to a landing page who input their contact information for a gated piece of content.
Marketing involves a lot of long-term objectives because it requires building trust and producing a variety of content offers that may perform differently month-to-month. Because of this, it isn’t always easy directly correlating marketing to a specific revenue.
In sales, the endgame involves a customer leaving satisfied with a particular product or service. Salespeople can directly account the revenue they brought to the company each month based on the number of customers who were influenced to buy. The marketer focuses on the long-term lead generation, and the salesperson focuses on short-term revenue earning sales. Both objectives are crucial for a company to be successful year after year.
3 Ways to Encourage Alignment Between These Roles.
There are obvious differences between marketing and sales, but businesses wanting to grow need to help these departments communicate more effectively.
Have weekly or monthly cross-department meetings to align goals.
Speak the same language, so there aren’t any major miscommunications.
Use consistent reporting systems, so the data holds the same meaning to everyone.
If you’re outsourcing marketing, sales or both, keeping communication clear and open is even more important. An amazing marketing team who generates leads from quality content needs to be paired with an amazing sales team who can follow up with leads and guide customers to the finish line.