Sales and marketing are very key factors of any business
Is having a great product the only requirement to run a successful business? For most companies, the answer is no. Why? Because generating sales requires potential customers to understand that a product exists, what it does, and why it’s better than a competitor’s offering.
The responsibility to communicate that information rests on the shoulders of the marketing and sales teams. Consequently, marketing has a predominant role at the beginning of a potential sale. For example, a marketing team may develop a new radio campaign to help spread awareness about a product launch. Also, a sales team works to finalize a deal by communicating directly with leads and addressing their concerns.
Another advantage sales and marketing teams exploit, is collaboration. Rather than operating as independent units, strong information and idea sharing between the teams can help improve results and create a seamless experience for prospective buyers.
Here’s a comprehensive overview of the meaning, responsibilities, and techniques of each segment.
Defining Sales and Marketing
Sales include “operations and activities involved in promoting and selling goods or services.”
Marketing includes “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.”
These statements highlight two aspects of the sales and marketing relationship:
- The responsibilities of each group are closely linked.
- Marketing has a vital role in supporting sales.
In practice, the marketing department tends to bear responsibility for raising awareness about a product and generating high-quality leads for a sales team. A “marketing-qualified lead” is a lead that meets certain criteria set forth by a marketing department. A “sales-qualified lead” adds to the initial stipulations set forth by marketing to help find the highest value prospects.
At times, a sales department may complain that marketing leads do not meet the standard set forth by the sales team. However, the potential for conflict also represents an opportunity for collaboration. The more effectively the two teams can share ideas, the better aligned their definitions are likely to be.
Sales and Marketing Responsibilities
While sometimes grouped separately, sales and marketing functions overlap. Those businesses that recognize the critical areas of overlap may get more value out of their teams by combining efforts. After all, both sales and marketing have the same end goal: increasing sales.
A key sales function is following up with the leads generated by a marketing department. Successful businesses usually develop a structured handoff process so that each marketing-qualified lead receives appropriate and timely follow-up from a sales team member.
The era of the “hard sell” continues to fade. Modern sales focus on relationship building to help create trust between a buyer and seller. Effective salespersons can understand the needs of the buyer and develop a persuasive—but not pushy—message to help differentiate the company’s product.
Most salespersons are judged by their ability to turn leads into customers. While some may envision a face-to-face meeting and handshake as the close of a sale, many businesses also close sales online or over the phone. This can broaden the responsibilities of closing a sale to more employees.
Furthermore, sales and marketing have responsibility for improving client retention. Likewise, by checking in with an existing client, a sales team member can help demonstrate an interest in long-term client success, not just a one-time sale. The ongoing effort to build strong relationships can help improve retention and lead to “upsells”—additional sales beyond the initial purchase.
Firstly, building awareness of a product or service is the first step in the sales process. A successful awareness-building effort may help a prospect recognize a brand or product name or may ensure a company makes the shortlist for purchasing consideration.
Engagement efforts build on an initial awareness campaign to deepen a consumer’s connection to a company or product. Marketing materials aimed at engagement may be longer (e.g. a whitepaper or video) compared to a more superficial awareness piece (e.g. direct mailer or radio advertisement).
A conversion is the critical transition of a potential customer from an anonymous person to a known lead. Hence, for marketing teams, a conversion may be the completion of a web form, the instigation of a web chat, or a phone call to a customer service line.
Even after a purchase, a marketing team can help a business grow its repeat customers. The retention function of marketing helps maintain awareness and engagement after a sale. This may include email newsletters or invitations to webinars that help a consumer get more value from a product. The retention function of marketing is especially critical for subscription services.