It is often claimed that the functions of sales and marketing are merging but, in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. However, while both parties deliver very different outcomes, they can benefit from gaining a better understanding of each other’s roles.
The merging myth
It has often been claimed that salespeople should spend more time creating content as part of their sales role. Not only does this confuse the roles and responsibilities of sales and marketing, but it also doesn’t make business sense.
Salespeople don’t have the time to create content, get it vetted by marketing and legal teams, then designed and published. This is a role that needs to be separated and to sit with marketing. Instead, salespeople need to be sharing relevant content with clients directly via email, in person or via social channels. This helps them to build credibility with their prospects and target customers, as well as nurture their relationships with key stakeholders.
The role of sales
Salespeople are best suited to creating new business opportunities by directly connecting with prospective customers. Their individual skills of selling directly to people are as rare as the skills of the best marketer, and they are best left to focus on these.
The best salespeople are responsible for creating and winning these opportunities. Their time is best spent securing meetings, understanding changes and developments in their prospects’ requirements, building the specific solutions that fit their customers’ needs and developing relationships with the right stakeholders. This then enables them to negotiate the right deal, resolve customers’ concerns, and convince them that the solution being offered is right for them before directly asking for their business.
None of these soft skills correlate with the core capabilities of marketers – who are far more effective at putting ink on paper than in negotiating and communicating deals. In short, salespeople are best left doing what they’re good at – creating, pursuing and winning opportunities.
The role of marketing
In many cases, it is true that a business’ sales function will struggle without the assistance of marketing. While the salesperson excels in negotiating and closing deals, the marketer is better suited to promoting the business, positioning offerings and messaging, and advertising their products.
Marketing is crucial to creating awareness of the business, its products and solutions, and creating a unique stance or argument in a busy marketplace. It does this indirectly, as opposed to salespeople selling directly to their target, and promoting the business at scale, and at a distance.
While they may not sell directly, marketers are crucial to assisting salespeople in their person-to-person sales. They can help with researching markets, creating personas, developing messaging and, ultimately, creating the content that captures customers’ interest. All of this is essential to best positioning the salesperson to seal the deal.
Open up any dictionary and it may advise you that ‘marketing sells’ but, in practice, it is a cog in the wider scheme of selling – putting the foundations in place for the sales team to be able to create and win opportunities. When marketing is working at its best, it eases the process for salespeople to develop and nurture new customers.
Sales and marketing build credibility
Every business wants to be known for the value they create for customers, recognised for being competent in their line of business, and held up as an expert in the product or solution they specialise in. For this to happen, the business needs to operate sales and marketing entities that work together and complement each other.
Salespeople shouldn’t be wasting hours on creating content to prove their expertise which could be better spent selling and nurturing new prospects. Instead, businesses should leave marketing to focus on what they’re good at, which is creating the quality content that every salesperson needs to win over their customers.
Nurture sales relationships
When marketing sends out an email it is typically a one-to-many communication that has a low potential for delivering the desired result. When a salesperson takes the time to collate content that’s been created by marketing, highlight the most critical information and tailor it to their customer’s unique requirement, that same piece of content becomes far more valuable.
It now becomes nurture content. In the first case, the email recipient doesn’t know the sender and is merely one of many people receiving the same exact correspondence. In the second, the recipient is more likely to know who the sender is and receives a personalised, relevant communication. This vastly increases the likelihood of generating a lead and the chances of sealing a deal.
Keeping the two forces of sales and marketing separate will help businesses to master the art of nurturing customers through high-quality content and sales delivery. The idea that sales and marketing are increasingly merging is false, and one that the savviest businesses should veer well clear of. Let marketing do what they excel at and enable salespeople to stick to selling through the benefits of marketing’s insights.