I have found myself in meetings with potential clients talking about the relationship between sales and marketing. Usually I am either trying to convince them that marketing has a place in growing their business, when they are fighting that sales is the only thing that produces actual results. Or on the flip side, I’m explaining to them that marketing alone won’t maximize their growth in top-line revenue so they still need a solid sales strategy.
After enough of these discussions, it prompted me to write an article on my findings at Good Monster regarding the relationship between sales and marketing.
It’s simple really, marketing is the foundation of a successful sales strategy, but without sales, there is no house.
Sales, By Itself Can Kill Your Business
In order to really see how sales and marketing work together, let’s paint a picture.
Imagine this if you will. You’re a business owner, C-level executive, or consumer looking to buy a product. As you’re going along doing business as usual, maybe surfing the Internet, your interrupted with a cold sales call, or an ad pitching a product or service to you. You weren’t looking for the service or product at the time, in fact you were doing something completely different. Then “wham”, this interruption slapped you in the face and deterred you from what you were doing. You get pissed off and frustrated that a company that you never heard of this trying to sell you shit on the first date. This is a sales-driven strategy that rarely works. And if it does work, it’s few a far between and very inefficient. This is when you hear sales teams say “it’s just a numbers game”; which is true if you’re taking the sales-only approach.
Whether you’re a business owner, or consumer, you want to be wooed into a trusting relationship with the people you do business with. Sure price matters, and you want to make sure that whatever it is you’re purchasing actually works correctly. But when it comes down to it, people do business with people, and human nature is to develop relationships. So allowing enough time for people to build trust with your brand is key.
The Sales/Marketing Relationship
Marketing, is the fuel to the fire behind those relationships. A solid marketing plan shows a potential customer why a business or brand is trustworthy. It tells stories. It shows examples. It solves problems. And it connects as deeply as possible to a target audience.
Now imagine my earlier example of a professional or a consumer getting interrupted from the daily activities with cold calling or an ad. Imagine if the month prior to that call or ad, you had been seeing helpful content targeted at your business or personal needs. You started to see enough of this content that you subscribed to learn a little bit more either through social media, or an email list, or some other medium. You were introduced early on to this brand and how it might help you. Now when that cold call happened, or the ad popped up, you already recognize the brand and the value that you might get from them. If you already find the value, you are much more likely to take a cold call, or cold email, or respond by clicking or engaging with that ad.
This is just how we work as humans. We trust people that we know, and generally don’t fully trust people that we don’t know. Hence why we hate pop up ads and cold calls.
Marketing-only Can Leave Customers on the Table
On the flipside if marketing is the only thing that you do, people might be aware of you at all times, but when the time comes that they need your product or service, if they don’t have a little push from a sales strategy, they might choose your competitors. Without a solid sales strategy the likelihood of somebody selecting you goes way down. It’s a little bit more of a gamble.
Tying It Together
So this is my take on sales versus marketing. Marketing provides the foundation to an incredibly efficient and effective sales strategy. It will build trust that allows your sales strategy to close more deals. Sales increases the likelihood of that a customer will pick you over your competitors. It allows you to top off that “relationship” that your marketing strategy has created.
So whether you are a sales person who thinks marketing is just a nice-to-have, or you’re a marketing person that things sales is a waste of resources, you’re wrong. Both have value, both need each other, and both will result in an incredible amount of business growth.