If there is a gap between marketing and sales, it’s because people don’t understand sales are essential to marketing.
Pam Didner accepts the premise.
“Marketing, in a way, is selling, but selling comes in different forms,” she said. “Salespeople need to focus on understanding customers’ challenges and resolving them.”
Didner is a technology marketing consultant, speaker and author. The business-to-business marketer specializes in sales and marketing alignment.
Ignjatovic is a marketing, strategy, leadership and business consultant. She works closely with Taylor, who owns DIYMarketers, a company “committed to helping small business owners get out of overwhelm.”
“There’s a gap between sales and marketing because there’s misunderstanding,” Ignjatovic said. “Most of the time, both sides take a narrow look at the other side in terms of capacities and business priorities.”
She noted that the growth agency Ironpaper found that 65 percent of customers are lost because of indifference, not because of mistakes.
“In the world of small business, there is a gap in where to put focus, helping to sell or finding customers,” Taylor said. “It seems there’s not enough resources for both.”
Didner added to her gap analysis.
“Sales and marketing have different priorities,” she said. “One focuses more on the bottom of the purchase funnel — complete the purchase. The other may focus on the whole purchase funnel from awareness to purchase — awareness, consideration and buy.
“Sales focuses on meeting monthly and quarterly quotas, while marketing needs to focus on brand building and demand generation,” Didner said. “The different focus will guide their tactics and execution.”
Taylor looked at the line between where marketing ends and selling begins.
“Marketing ends at creating content that helps salespeople sell,” she said.” Sales begins in helping customers choose and onboarding.”
On the other hand, Ignjatovic thinks the world has blurred the marketing and sales because they both blend into creating a unified experience.
“Both marketing and sales are selling in their own ways,” Didner said. “In the past, it was easier to see who does what. Marketers did promotions through TV, radio, print and events. When people saw promotion and expressed interest, they came to the store or made a call.”
She agreed with Ignjatovic about the blurring.
“Email marketing can be done by both sales and marketing,” Didner said. “Social media ads also can be run by both. The boundary is less clear. It’s important to define roles and responsibilities between sales and marketing.
“This is why marketing and sales should work together even more closely,” she said. “Sales should see marketing as a hidden sales force. Marketing should view sales as another marketing channel.”
Didner added that if the marketing team does account-based marketing, the marketers stay together with the sales team until the deals are closed.
“When I’m selling, some of the most important marketing is in the form of statistics, performance and social proof,” Taylor said.
The importance of marketing depends on different stages of selling, according to Didner.
“The key things are to understand to whom you are talking, do your homework, have information to address their pain points and follow up, follow up,” she said. “This is something that marketing and sales can collaborate on.
“It’s the balance of data and gut,” Didner said. “Data supports your gut feel. At the end of day, it’s ‘how’ you communicate with your customers.”
Related to communication, marketers also should know that, according to Adobe, 57 percent of email recipients consider a message to be spam if it isn’t relevant to their needs. This applies even when they know the vendor well.
“The purpose of marketing is to appeal to target customers and make it easy to choose your company,” Taylor said.
Ignjatovic believed there is a difference between helping sales and persuading customers to buy – with marketing able to do both.
“Marketing has many purposes, but one of the reasons for its existence is to help sales sell,” Didner said. “Whatever marketers do — at the end of the day — should indirectly or directly lead to sales.
“The modern sales professional is actually not a seller but someone who helps people buy,” said Jill Rowley, chief growth officer at Marketo, an Adobe company.
“To prepare for a successful sales conversation, I look for unrecognized blind spots and potentials,” Ignjatovic said. “There’s always an element of innovation.”
Taylor devises prospect goals and support materials to show how she can help clients achieve their goals.
“It starts way before the conversation,” Didner said. “Salespeople need to be onboarded and trained properly when they go out and sell.
“This is especially true for tech or complex sales,” she said. “Before conversations, do your research about the people you want to talk to.”
Technology also helps. According to the sales-enablement platform, Highspot, over 75 percent of companies using sales-enablement tools indicated that sales increased over 12 months.
“Sales enablement makes it easy for salespeople to sell by ensuring they have marketing materials and tools to help close sales,” Taylor said.
Didner sees the concept as a combination.
“Sales enablement traditionally is defined as onboarding and training,” she said. “I expanded the definition to ‘Deliver a positive customer experience by equipping sales with knowledge, skills, processes and tools through collaboration to increase sales productivity.’
“I included ‘Deliver a positive customer experience…’ as part of the definition,” Didner said. “This is crucial in a digital-first marketing environment. It’s important to add the customer to the sales-enablement definition. Without customers, there are no sales.”
According to marketing software and consulting services company, Kapost, 65 percent of sales reps say they can’t find content to send to prospects. This is the most common complaint cited by sales teams, which is another element of sales enablement.
“That’s important because sales enablement’s function is to make it easy for salespeople to sell and buyers to buy,” Taylor said.
“Sales enablement is about making sales to be successful,” Didner said. “If equipped with proper knowledge and necessary tools and processes, salespeople can focus on what they are doing the best: selling.”
To understand sales challenges and connect the dots, Didner has a free eBook, “A Quick and Easy Framework for Marketers to Enable Sales.”
“You don’t need to have a sales team,” Taylor said. “What you need for sales enablement is content that makes selling effortless. Then buying is easy.”
While she sees sales enablement as a process — traditionally requiring salespeople — Ignjatovic contends that today businesses can have a chatbot.
“Every company does sales enablement differently,” Didner said. “Some have a team. Some embed the works into different groups such as product marketing, business units and marketing.
“You need to work on your support models based on how your company is structured,” she said.
“Sales enablement is primarily used by enterprise organizations,” Taylor said. “However, every small business can create content that helps salespeople sell.”
Part of the problem for adoption is terminology.
“Sales enablement sounds complex — and it is — but it doesn’t have to be,” Ignjatovic said. “It’s a process that even small business can use with some customer relationship management tools.”
Learning is a big component for success.
“Sales enablement should equip sales team with knowledge, tools and processes,” Didner said. “That can be sales operations, marketing, human resources training or even a product team. If you have any of these functions in your companies — regardless the size of a company — you can enable sales.
“Small businesses also can enable their sales teams,” she said. “You create your own version based on your budget, processes and organizational structure. In the end, everyone chips in and help to make the sales team successful.”
There are many advantages of using sales enablement in business.
“The most important is that it’s a very effective way to stay in touch with the prospect and leads,” Ignjatovic said.
Taylor believes that with sales enablement, the sales cycle could become shorter.
Didner listed sales enablement’s key advantages:
- Deliver a positive customer experience.
- Make your sales team successful.
- Grow your business.
- Enhance collaboration among different functions.
- Integrate sales and marketing
Marketing elements can be used to drive sales conversions, engagements and further sales negotiations. Didner’s entire book, “Effective Sales Enablement: Achieve sales growth through collaborative sales and marketing,” is available on Amazon.