In a new job I had as the marketing lead for the company, one of my first initiatives was to book a meeting with the sales lead. To his surprise, his reaction was “Why do I need to have a meeting with marketing,” he jested. I’ll admit it.
I knew I had to change this perception and I was up to the challenge. But, why was this happening?
In recent years, countless thought leaders have determined that best practice alignment between marketing and sales goes beyond a simple meeting. It also requires blurring the line between the two functions, uniting and operating as a single, coordinated revenue generating team. The functions have the same targets, goals, strategies and plans.
So, why are some B2B sales teams still not buying into marketing and worse, why don’t they support marketing with their people?
Is it a general lack of understanding of what a marketing department is supposed to do? Is it that there is a still stigma from the Mad Men show that make people thing marketing’s role is solely to make pretty brochures and put sparkles on websites?
Well, here are pretty good reasons why I think this needs to change to support other marketers out there who have also had this experience.
- If we understand sales teams better, we can generate and target higher quality leads.
- If we know what accounts they are working on and understand the challenges they have at each stage of the sales cycle and buying process (e.g. customer journey), we can support them better at each stage.
- We can help keep sales reps happy and engaged by giving them support and making them feel like they are not alone to achieving their targets: we are in it with them as well! (They are our targets, too, after all!).
- We might be able to identify tactics they haven’t tried yet and support them in implementing these tactics (a common one is social selling, for instance).
- Rather than having a task list of stuff they want from marketing, sales teams can work collaboratively with marketing to determine the right urgency and requirements based on stats and pipeline.
- We share the blame for lack of revenue… After all, if they aren’t hitting their numbers, it’s our fault, too. Better to partner and conquer the world!
- Marketing can provide more support than simply passing on a brochure. They can provide detailed briefs on campaigns, research on buyers, thought process between chosen communications channels, etc.
- Marketing can set up the tools and software needed to streamline and support the sales processes. We can also track the marketing touch points involved in a closed sale.
- Product marketers, specifically, can create an interface the messaging between product engineering and sales. This can help sales get what they need from product and support their customers.
Just to name a few.
Transformation of perception and role clarity is key. After all this time, I still don’t have the answer as to why some B2B sales teams don’t buy into marketing, but I can be sure of one thing: in each role I undertake and with each marketing team I lead, I make sure that sales, and the business, are heavily, strategically, and positively impacted by marketing. And I’ll prove it with data.