How Marketing Supports Sales
Literally everything a Marketing department does is intended to facilitate Sales. Some of the efforts are long term or strategic, for example, the creation and maintenance of the company’s brand. Other efforts are more immediate and tactical. These include various kinds of lead generation activities.
The most visible and least understood marketing initiatives are branding and advertising. These are expensive campaigns and, unless a prospect tells a salesperson that seeing your company’s ad in The Wall Street Journal was the decisive factor in closing the deal, you’ll find it hard to ever truly get Sales on board. Selling straight from an ad rarely happens. And nobody ever says, “I’m buying your product because I like your new logo.” But that was never the expectation from these awareness-building campaigns. Clearly, better communication is needed.
Salespeople can easily point to the exact amount of revenue they’ve generated. Couldn’t marketers, in turn, calculate the ROI from advertising or a rebranding? Many experts suggest doing this. It poses challenges and expenses for some small businesses, but it’s certainly not impossible, as this Playbook article discusses.
Even if they don’t take on ROI measurement, what Marketers can explain is that awareness is the first step in the Marketing/Sales process. Elsewhere in the Playbook we looked at the idea of the “Marketing Funnel” in detail. Awareness, or “Attention” as it is known in the AIDA model, is the first step in getting prospects to consider your product or service. Branding works subliminally to qualify your firm in prospects’ minds and overcome any initial objections.
Originally, product management was a discipline that focused on consumer products. For example, laundry soap. Product managers ask questions like, “What is the market looking for? Is it price? Or do they need specific features such as adding bleach or fabric softeners? Does it need to be biodegradable, organic, fragrance-free?”
Today a broad spectrum of products and services are brought to market with the aid of product management. If Marketing gets everything right, then its product strategy should work to optimize sales. And, because salespeople have some of the best anecdotal evidence of how your products and services are perceived, it makes sense to solicit their input in the early phases of the product management process.
Lead generation is where Marketing truly enters the tactical realm. Recognizing that Sales is a numbers game, Marketing tries to collect as many as names as possible to feed to its hungry sales force. Depending upon the industry, Sales may push back and say, “It’s not just quantity; we want quality, or “qualified,” leads.
Marketing departments can always buy leads from data companies that compile lists of names connected with contact information and, perhaps, other relevant information such as individuals’ age, sex, profession, hobbies, and income. The cheapest list might have the names and addresses of everyone in a particular ZIP code. If you’re opening a pizza restaurant in a new neighborhood, then that’s probably what you’d use for establishing initial contacts.
On the other hand, a developer of tax accounting software might have research shows its best prospects are independent accounting firms with at least $1.5 million in annual revenues, headed by a female CEO between the ages of 32 and 45. That list would cost quite a bit more.
Here the question becomes: Is it more cost efficient to buy a list that’s only qualified by the revenue threshold, and let the sales force do the rest? Or is it worth it to pay up for the more narrowly qualified leads—as Sales is begging you to do?
Direct Mail and Content Marketing
The hottest leads, of course, come from people who have actively indicated they have an interest in your product or service. Either they’ve talked to someone at a trade show or an event, responded to a direct response mailing, or found you via social media or searching the Internet.
Here the division of labor used to be pretty simple. Marketing would devise, say, a direct mail campaign, and then turn the leads over to Sales. These campaigns were relatively inexpensive to execute, and it was easy to measure the response rate and fine-tune the offer.
Today’s social media and content marketing strategies leverage the Internet’s reach to enable you to sell to people anywhere in the world. However, the campaigns themselves can involve more steps, as prospects needs to see more and different types of content as they get deeper into the process. Content examples include white papers, fact sheets, capabilities brochures, and case studies. This type of extended campaign requires coordination between Sales and Marketing to successfully convert prospects into customers.