Dec 8, 2011

Does Sales Need Marketing?

“Sales can exist without marketing, but marketing can’t exist without sales.”

This attitude is pervasive, especially in traditional industries, but it’s not true. As much as marketing can’t exist without sales, sales can’t exist without marketing either. They are intrinsically linked and dependent on each other.

In the pre-Google era B2B companies grew one sales person at a time. Ads and brochures didn’t sell complex products like servers, copiers and professional services – sales people did. As a result companies like Xerox, IBM and Canon built huge field sales forces to grow. They tasked their sales people to prospect and engage customers, educate them on the products, and ultimately sell them. Marketing was there to provide collateral and tools, but sales people were the heroes.

Times have changed. For many companies, sales people don’t initiate the customer relationship anymore, websites do. And the website is just one touch point in forming and managing a cohesive customer relationship.

Create a total customer relationship

Your customers are going to multiple places to find the information they need to make informed purchase decisions. They go to Google. They go to your website. They go to YouTube. They go to blogs and social media. And they talk to human beings too. We live in an information rich world, and we constantly tap into the available tools to get the data we want and need.

If you don’t manage all the customer touch points, all the places they go for information, then you aren’t managing your client relationships effectively. Sales people can’t do all this work on their own, they need marketing. Marketing manages the informational client relationships, and sales people manage the human relationships.

Sales people are more valuable than ever before

Sales people may not carry the same influence they did a decade ago, but their impact on the buying process is essential. Since information is cheap, customers can find all the data they need to get informed. The problem is they’re overloaded with information and need help. That’s where sales people come in. They humanize the business, and facilitate the purchasing process.

Complex products don’t sell themselves – they never did. The difference today is a sales person’s role is not to sell, but to facilitate. The customer needs someone to contextualize the information they’re finding, ask questions to provoke greater understanding, negotiate terms and close deals.

One doesn’t exist without the other

Over time sales and marketing have evolved into completely separate business units and functions inside an organization. But it’s time to challenge that notion. One cannot exist without the other. It’s the collective work to form, manage and scale customer relationships that builds a brand and drives revenue.

Companies with amazing brands are already figuring this out. They have sales and marketing aligned with clear objectives that tie back to the overall business strategy. Their sales and marketing teams work together to serve customers and build relationships. They work as one cohesive unit – and that’s the point.

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