Culture Crash

Much has been said about the connection between marketing and sales. Sales people see marketing as the source of leads and t-shirts; marketing sees sales people as the people who buy lunch and discount.

In Culture Crash, CMO Magazine comments: "'Some marriages will never work,' Cohen says, 'because the personalities are just too extreme.' Can the marriage between sales and marketing be saved? Most of the time, yes. But like all long-term commitments, the key to success lies in two-way communication. In the case of sales and marketing, the robustness of that communication is aided by technology but deepened by old school, face-to-face interactions. Think you can handle that?"

Perhaps clarity of roles is the issue. Sales people--and many marketing people too--think of marketing as sales support. Demos, collateral, leads, awareness, all with an objective of supporting a single sale.

In Don't Confuse Sales Support with Marketing, Adele Revella writes, "Technology marketers spend more than half of their time on sales support, a statistic that reflects an alarming state of confusion about the role of marketing in our industry. Yet the functions of Sales and Marketing are easily distinguished; Marketing focuses on a market full of opportunities, while Sales focuses on individual opportunities."

What is the true role of marketing? Marketing moves all buyers forward one or more steps through the sales cycle. Marketing should strategically define the key steps of the sales cycle, and the tools that support each step, giving sales people a roadmap to move clients from leads to close and beyond. Working closely with sales management, we can identify the necessary tools and techniques. Then sales people and their sales engineers can customize these materials for each deal, if it's even necessary; marketing should never create one-time use materials for a single client.

In fact, helping a single sales person is actually hurting the company. When a product manager or marketer helps one person, she isn't helping all the others. Wouldn't it be better if we created a better sales tool or a better set of leads? Or best of all, let's create a better product that solves a market problem. Let's create a product that sells itself.

Is your marketing function focused on one deal at a time or on all deals? Are we helping one sales person or a sales channel full of people?

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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