This is one of the most important handover points to get right in any company. But the boundaries are really fuzzy.
How many times have you heard comments like this?
“We could improve performance if only Sales followed up on the leads we give them”
“We could grow sales if only Marketing gave us decent quality leads”
Mars and Venus. Chalk and cheese. The difference in mindset and approach between sales and marketing is a huge one. Managing this sales process is a critical factor in the success of any business.
What’s your objective?
Many business owners don’t really see a distinction between sales and marketing. They are likely blissfully unaware of there being any difference.
This is because the outcome of both good sales and marketing practice is growth in £ sales. Many business owners identify the objective of “growing sales” and simply look for someone to help with sales.
This can pose a dilemma for us when someone asks us for “help with sales” and then reels off a list of what we’d call marketing activities.
Needless to say, it creates a dilemma for the business owner too. If your shopping list isn’t an accurate reflection of what you need then you’re unlikely to buy the right tools at the best price.
What’s the definition of marketing?
At its simplest level marketing is focused on making people aware of your product or service.
Behind this, there’s a strategic plan to figure out more about who those customers are. What are their profiles and motivations? Where do you find them – either physically or virtually?
Then there’s a big element of communication. Whether you’ve got a monster budget and planning a TV campaign or you’re creating a free webinar on Facebook.
Either way that’s marketing communication, helping you raise awareness of your product and company.
What’s the definition of sales?
Sales is more about reaching out to specific customers to persuade them to buy.
We’re massive advocates of treating sales as a strategic activity. So yes, there should be a sales plan! This should focus on how activity with a specific customer lines up with the marketing plan.
A simple example: A paddling pool company plans marketing activities for June and July, with adverts on bus shelters in early summer.
The sales team discuss this with B&Q in March, encouraging them to buy extra stock and place a feature on the B&Q website.
Like marketing, sales shows up in many ways. In your company it might be reps on the road, key account managers talking to major customers like B&Q, or it might be a team in the office handling Inbound calls.
Is this sales or marketing?
Let’s look at some specific cases, but bear in mind these are guidelines. Your business might be different – and as long as your team’s responsibilities are clear that is okay.
Is lead gen sales or marketing?
We would argue this is really a marketing activity. Done well, you have to figure out who to contact and that’s not as easy as it sounds. Lots of “targeted” lists just blast 1000s of people in the hope a few respond. Wasteful.
You also have to choose between various mechanics such as unsolicited email (the bane of IT departments’ spam traps) or a traditional approach like a flyer.
All this needs testing and improving and sounds like marketing to us.
Is an exhibition sales or marketing?
This is more of a mix.
In the first instance you need to decide whether attending this exhibition is the right thing for your business. That’s targeting.
Then somebody needs to create the materials for the exhibition. The stand itself and the handouts, brochures and samples you give away. Marketing materials.
Yet you might fill your stand with sales people, especially if people attending the show are prospective customers.
So this would be an example of marketing and sales working in perfect harmony.
Is LinkedIn sales or marketing?
This one’s tricky. Your company’s LinkedIn page? That’s marketing and should reflect your business.
But your LinkedIn page is personal so really it’s a sales tool for you.
Say you’re an employee and you use your LinkedIn profile to reach out to prospective clients. Who owns your connections when you leave?
Good HR practice (and LinkedIn’s User Agreement) says you do. Not your company. So whilst you might “Like” or “Share” your company’s marketing posts we’d argue LinkedIn is a sales activity.
How do you get marketing and sales to work together?
We try to avoid “it depends” answers. But in this case you can see it does. What’s important is to be really clear on your objective and who is responsible for doing what!
It doesn’t matter if a sales person designs your exhibition stand and the only people attending are your marketing team.
As long as they have talent and enthusiasm for what they are doing and can rely on their colleagues to pick up the other jobs it will go well.
Mapping out your whole sales process from targeting right through to aftersales can be a massively valuable exercise.
Who does what, when do they pass it to the next person, and what happens next? Importantly, what does good look like? Qualification is important. When is a “lead” not really a lead?
Get your team to help build this process and you’ll cut out all that he said/she said nonsense. It will improve team motivation and deliver more sales.
Read also: “Driving growth with sales activity“