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Marketing and Sales are rapidly evolving in parallel directions: both functions have realized that interruption based selling and marketing are inefficient and becoming less and less effective. The reality of the buyer has changed.
Sales 2.0 and its playmate, Modern Marketing, are both about using social media and Web 2.0 tools to prospect and sell more effectively. They focus on indirect methods of bringing customers in, like content marketing, rather than what are now seen as obsolete methods like cold calling.
Christopher Cabrera, Founder and CEO of Xactly Corporation, says,
“Even armed with the best information, cold callers must deal with the reality that many of us do not answer the phone directly anymore. This is where Sales 2.0 technologies can help warm up a call with advance communication (e.g., LinkedIn) and email.”
Furthermore, buyers are more educated today than they were ten years ago. As Matt Heinz, President at Heinz Marketing says,
“Now it’s even more important for sellers to take on a more consultative, diagnostic role.”
But as people see the two departments, Sales and Marketing, moving in the same direction, there has arisen a common anxiety: the future of Sales and Marketing integration.
These two business functions have a long history of competition, even though they perform distinct jobs. Historically, Marketing is more analytical and strategic and Sales is more tactical and interpersonal. But this binary definition obscures the extent to which each company delegates responsibilities to the different teams. In a CMO survey this year on the subject:
- 7% of respondents stated that Sales is within Marketing
- 10.3% said that Marketing is within Sales
- 72% stated that Sales and Marketing work together on an even field.
Despite the historical turf war between them, Sales and Marketing have remained distinct, but equal parties.
Sales 2.0 required salespeople to start using tools that their counterparts in Marketing had probably been using for years: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Web 2.0 tools. But while crossing over into Marketing territory might seem threatening, the difference is that as a sales rep, you aren’t necessarily generating leads, you’re actually talking to them.
Cabrera finds the distinction between sales and marketing irrelevant,
“The reality is that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that companies use modern tools to help salespeople give feedback on why leads are not acceptable, rather than just complaining ‘Marketing isn’t providing me leads.’”
“Modern Marketing”, the new technique for highly analytical and data-based marketing using lead-management tools and indirect methods of gaining inbound leads, attempts to address the issue of bad marketing leads. Think of it as the marketing counterpart to Sales 2.0. Both techniques use social media and Web 2.0, just in different ways.
Modern Marketing, like Sales 2.0 enables efficiency and intelligence, it just does it in a different area. According to Forbes, businesses that use marketing automation tools to nurture prospects have 451% increase in qualified leads.
Modern Marketing is also a movement that is focused on indirect marketing, like content production, which focuses on educating, rather than selling. Heinz believes that the opportunity to teach is invaluable to marketing,
“You end up having the opportunity to challenge, to educate, to pique, to shape the prospect’s thinking. There’s a fine line between education and starting to sell. The product of content marketing is earning the right to get in front of your prospects early in the buying process at a fraction of the cost. That buyer is predisposed to talk to you, because they already know you understand their business, their problems.”
This particular aspect of Modern Marketing has created very little friction between Sales and Marketing, and is commonly viewed as harmless at worst, and extremely effective at best. The problem between the two departments mostly has to do with the delegation of responsibility surrounding the new tools that both parties are using.
These new tools can conflate already existing antagonism. Common blame games include: Marketing blaming Sales for poor execution of a brilliant plan, Sales blaming Marketing for setting prices too high and using too much of the budget, Marketing accusing Sales of being too “short-term” focused, and Sales accusing Marketing of being out of touch with the reality of the customer.
The Future of Marketing and Sales
Neither party is disappearing anytime soon. Both types of people (the analytical game-planners and the socially skilled sellers) are absolutely necessary to any company. Heinz says:
“Fundamentally, the skills that are required in marketing are very different from the skills that are required in sales. I don’t know that we’re going to see those roles combine. What’s less important is the organization chart. We need to make sure everyone is aligned on what the goals are.”
There are three types of divisions of labor that each company has to decide between: undefined, aligned, and integrated. The first works well for new, extremely small companies– usually startups that often don’t even have an official marketing department. An aligned relationship works best for companies with clear-cut job descriptions for Sales and Marketing, wherein there’s little overlap or conflict. The last, integrated, is good for a company with a short sales cycle and an emphasis on a culture of shared responsibility.
We’re seeing more and more companies move towards an aligned approach, especially as sales and marketing teams start using the same tools.
Heinz thinks it’s about a lot more than just sharing tools:
“Ultimately it comes down to what are people’s motivations and what are they rewarded for.”
He believes that when Sales and Marketing share a common goal, they are most successful. This is not to say that they are doing the same thing, rather that there is greater communication between the two parties. For instance, a salesperson will sit in on product planning reviews and help develop marketing plans. Conversely, brand managers and researchers will occasionally go along on sales calls. There should be a liaison between the two teams who acts as nothing more than a mediator. Furthermore, the two teams are usually geographically next to each other in the office, to maximize communication and teamwork.
When there’s a “common dashboard for success” (Heinz), Sales and Marketing can work towards the same goal, while each maximizing productivity in the areas that they are best suited for.