Marketing, Sales and Focus

Much is being written today about aligning Marketing and Sales, a divide which is being exacerbated by social media tools, lead nurturing and new Marketing metrics.

Over the years I have had the privilege of working with some outstanding Sales people and Sales management.  They all have many things in common, but one trait that sticks out is skepticism.  Whether this is inbred or arises out of constant rejection is unclear, but if you scratch the surface of a good salesman you will find a skeptic.

This skepticism comes to the fore in discussions where Marketing trumpets its social media successes: increasing hits on the web site, a new CRM system that allows them to track inquires and downloads, Email open and click-thru rates, etc.  Since many of the charts start at a low level and increase over time, Marketing is looking good, and why shouldn’t Sales be impressed?

The Sales skepticism about the Marketing results can best expressed by the phrase uttered by Rod Tidwell in the movie Jerry McGuire, “Show me the money.”   Sales people aren’t interested in hits, click-thrus, downloads or other Marketing metrics.  What they want are solid qualified leads.  An added plus would be the customer’s potential pain points, as well as multiple contacts within the customer.

If the Sales force has to weed through patches of leads to find one that is worthwhile, then they feel that the work that Marketing is doing is not meaningful.  Sales people are generally paid on a commission, which to them means that time equals money.  The more time that Sales has to spend prospecting, the less time they have to sell and close.

David Merriman Scott recently released a white paper through Hubspot entitled 11 Examples of Online Marketing Success. Each example is indeed a Marketing success, but my skeptical Sales friends would say “show me the money.”  Only one of the examples deals with lead generation, and it relates to how John Deere gave away a tractor.  It does not report on how many of the people who registered to win the tractor were qualified leads for a sale.

I understand that part of Marketing’s role is to build and sustain a brand.  And I also understand that Product Managers are responsible for delivering the right product, at the right time and through the right channels.

But a key part of Marketing is delivering qualified leads.  In 2011 I think it is important that Marketing people don’t get caught up in digital metrics and overlook this important role.  When Marketing delivers qualified leads the conversation about a divide between Marketing and Sales disappears and the skepticism of Sales regarding Marketing goes down, however it never really goes away.

How well are you delivering qualified leads to your Sales forces?  How does this compare to how often are you telling Sales and management what a great job Marketing is doing on building the brand, recording hits, and downloads?

Are you focusing on the right thing?

RHM  1/13/2011

1 comment to Marketing, Sales and Focus

  • Jim Matorin

    I would love to see the silos between Marketing & Sales come down in my industry. Social media can facilitate this to happen, but it also starts with communication which needs to be improved in Foodservice.

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