There seems to be a grey area between marketing and sales. To the unfamiliar, it can be hard to distinguish where one begins and the other ends. But sales is not marketing, and marketing is not sales. They work together to achieve the desired outcome, whether that be new customers or new clients. The relationship between the two is much like the relationship between an anesthesiologist and a surgeon – two uniquely skilled roles that work closely together to ensure a successful outcome.
Taking prospects through the funnel
So how do they coexist in terms of client acquisition? The role of marketing is to generate qualified leads, while the role of sales is to close deals. But they work together to nurture these leads along the way. This brings us to the prospect funnel, which represents the prospect’s journey from initial awareness to signing as a client.
When a qualified prospect enters the funnel, they are likely familiar and aligned with your brand. They also have a general understanding of your product or service offering. Sales then takes the lead, beginning the process of converting them into a client.
Sales and marketing work closely together
A strong partnership between marketing and sales is important during this critical stage. Sales remains focused on building a relationship, understanding the prospect’s specific needs, and signing the client. Marketing focuses on supporting sales through nurturing the lead with brand assets and targeted campaigns focused on the prospect’s needs. This content helps strengthen the relationship with your brand and move the prospect further down the funnel (and closer to a sale).
It’s important to understand that sales and marketing should never stop working together. An effective ongoing partnership between the two will continually improve the prospect’s experience, with the goal of shortening the sales cycle.
A balanced focus between ‘now’ and the road ahead
A Chief Outsiders article breaks down the relationship perfectly. Sales is focused on the ‘now’ – selling what is in stock and developing relationships with customers. Marketing has an eye on the road ahead, learning from the customer’s perspective to help lead the company into the future. They fulfill important but separate needs for a business to succeed. The skills required to excel at each, however, can be at odds with each other, meaning business owners can’t rely on just one person or department to effectively handle both.
By staying ahead of the curve, marketing can help guide sales towards the right market segments and provide them with the proper brand tools to close deals.
The real magic: when marketing and sales are perfectly aligned
Like the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, the role of marketing and the role of sales require different skillsets and have very different mandates for success. When I see a job title that combines both, it may mean that one is a strength and the other is an afterthought, or worse, that neither is particularly strong in the first place. Keep marketing and sales separate but connected, the real magic happens for your business when they are aligned and working together.
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