From the Blog

Marketing versus Sales Responsibilities

The marketing we know today began its transformation from advertising and price setting to understanding, communicating and serving the needs of its audience in the 1950s. Since the 50s much has changed for this role, especially with the advent of new technologies that broaden our reach.

Learning how to influence buyer behavior and also help customers identify pain points is a relatively new concept in comparison to old school advertising and economics of the 1900s. It is because of its relatively short history that we are still working to define the parameters around how marketing is evaluated and consequently compensated.

The question of ROI is always present in business; what are you getting for what you’re giving? For marketing roles, you’re wondering what the value is of the work you’re receiving given the salary you’re paying. It’s easy to understand the benefits of nice graphics, a clean website, informative brochures and a powerful public brand presence, but what are marketers really doing for your company?

There are several tasks that fall under the scope of marketing, including the basics of problem solving and communications. The largest benefits marketers provide companies are the combination of two skills: research and psychology.

Successful marketers go into a research process that looks at targeting different people, job roles and work industries. They work to understand what is important to these people and then begin to segment them into various groups. These sundry groups will be targeted based off of common traits and pain points using specific messaging that will hopefully resonate with the receiver. Marketers will continue to work throughout a campaign (or campaigns) to figure out what attracts this group’s attention and is important to their success.

In my experience, the most successful companies are those that understand Marketing and Sales must work cohesively and in constant communication to maximize ROI. Everyone says that they understand this concept, while few truly do. In order to explore how Marketing should be evaluated, it’s important to draw out how the relationship with Sales would be best arranged.

Think of our military – this is probably the best analogy I can provide. You have your boots on the ground, your military unit that executes missions and works in the trenches. They are working directly against the enemy. Then you have your intelligence unit at headquarters that is supplying vital data to that ground team working in the field of battle. Yes, this team in the field might survive if communications were cut with intel, but it’s easy to see that they would be far more successful if they had someone telling them what is happening around them, anticipating what may happen next with satellite imaging and intercepted communications.

For the purposes of this analogy – Sales is the military unit doing the hand-to-hand combat and Marketing is the intel provider offsite.

Sales people can work deals on their own, in fact, many do; but Marketing provides research, intelligence and additional data that can help Sales start a conversation, nurture an existing relationship, or save a deal when it starts to go sideways by supplying new data or a fresh perspective.

Thus, it seems that Marketing should be evaluated by how successfully it supports sales personnel. If Marketing sends Sales into an opportunity, Marketing needs to have prepared the sales team with proper intelligence and also work alongside them for additional support. Now, consider this: if Marketing defines the target, determines its opportunity/weaknesses but Sales never deploys or engages, how can you begin to fairly evaluate marketing efficacy or Marketing effort based off of revenue alone? Your Sales team never left its military post nor engaged the target.

So the question becomes, how can Marketing support Sales? This support can come in a variety of formats: creating sales presentations, writing cold call scripts, researching and building lists of targets. But that isn’t all. Marketing must also develop bait. Bait can be seen in a variety of formats, from blogs and thought leadership content, to online paid advertisements and social media updates, to direct mail and email campaigns. All of it is related to getting people into the sales funnel.

While you might be thinking, “do I really need another (fill in your most hated piece of marketing collateral here)?” stop to ask yourself, “how could this new approach be better for me and my company in regard to my target audience’s needs?” Then you can reassess and move forward.

But back to the topic at hand: how should marketing performance be evaluated? It should be evaluated by its ability to adapt to the needs of Sales, providing new intelligence and new creative bait. What you shouldn’t do is assess marketing’s efficacy when you’re not supporting the initiatives with sales activity. You can know that the enemy is within two clicks of your outpost, but unless you leave the campsite, you’ll never be able to determine whether or not your intel was valuable. Just as with marketing research – Marketing can provide the right people, subjects and bait, but if Sales doesn’t engage, that shouldn’t be on Marketing’s evaluation of ROI.

To summarize, Marketing isn’t a commission-based role. It shouldn’t be evaluated by the same metric as Sales.