Ideally, there is a well-defined, symbiotic and logically-interfaced relationship between a company’s marketing and sales departments. However, in real life, this doesn’t always play out that way. The gray area between marketing and sales is getting increasingly “grayer,” with this widening gap creating angst and dysfunction within many organizations. Because many marketers are now subject to increasing revenue accountability, they often find themselves competing with their own sales departments as to who claims responsibility for a sale of the company’s product or service.
In this age of increasing budget justifications, both marketing and sales staffs are being asked to do more with less – a trend which has at times pushed these two functions into each other’s “swim lanes.” In some (especially smaller) companies it isn’t unusual for an outside sales associate to generate his/her own leads and pursue them single-handedly to the finish line. Or conversely, smart marketers, with an entire digital kingdom at their fingertips, can generate and actually close prospects, exclusively using the vast array of digital technologies in their arsenal in order to do so.
Company size can play a role in this scenario. Small companies, which are typically run by an entrepreneurial founder, are accustomed to doing more with less, often hiring a couple of commissioned salespeople, but no professional marketing help. They tend to be less focused on true, qualified lead generation and more focused on “just getting out and selling.” But in order to grow the business, they need to treat marketing as a critical, measurable function, hire (or outsource) professional marketing help, and determine how to best blend these functions for maximum new revenue generation.
In larger companies, it’s important to recognize the “highest and best use” of these two functions. Marketers usually have the advantage of an outside and research-based viewpoint and can therefore provide the sales team with carefully curated information regarding marketplace trends and shifts, as well as helpful data in order to guide sales initiatives and priorities.
Marketing’s mandate should be to use research and analytics to perfect the go-to-market strategy. And the sales department’s mandate should be to feed real-world reactions back into the continual evolution of the organization’s marketing plan.
The result is a seamless blend and improved positive two-way communications between these critical corporate functions, both of which are charged with helping the company achieve its revenue goals.
Cathy Ackermann, founder and president of Ackermann Marketing and PR, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org