The line between sales and marketing has always been blurry at best.
After all, both teams work towards the same goal: convincing people to buy and creating revenue for the business.
It might be different in B2C, where marketing tends to focus its efforts on consumers and sales targets wholesale suppliers. But for us folk in B2B, both teams are focused on exactly the same individuals.
When you try to define sales and marketing’s roles in this shared endeavor, you quickly realize just how blurry that line is. For example, should you distinguish between sales and marketing’s activities based on:
- Timescale – with marketing providing the slow-burn, sales the cut-and-thrust?
- Stages of the buying journey – with marketing generating and nurturing prospects, and sales closing the deal?
- Method of engagement – with marketing being passive, sales active?
What’s more, as marketing activities have evolved in recent years, the line between sales and marketing has only gotten blurrier. For example, where would talking to people on social media live? Or running a stand at an expo?
Simply put, businesses like ours have struggled to divide marketing and sales for decades, and it isn’t getting any easier.
But maybe we’re looking at it in the wrong way. Yes the relationship between sales and marketing is naturally blurry – but instead of being a problem, this might actually be a good thing?
Why unify Sales and Marketing?
A clear line between marketing and sales means silos. It means effort, knowledge and information being kept from colleagues – whether intentionally or accidentally.
When that line is blurry though, leads can be followed up and closed more quickly. Plus things like who gets the credit for the sale become less important because everyone’s on the same side – your businesses’ side.
(Of course if you’ve got a commission structure in place, you still can attribute it to the right places. Some things will never change.)
A blurry line between sales and marketing also reflects the customer’s perspective. They’ll often see your people as part of one brand, not individual teams (and rightly so).
As customers increasingly research products or services online, rather than reaching out to sales teams for more information, marketing collateral plays an increasingly important role in selling.
With all this in mind, we asked ourselves a simple question: what if, instead of trying to clarify where marketing ends and sales begins, we just merged our sales and marketing teams?
So that’s exactly what we did.
Merging marketing and sales: an experiment
We brought our teams together based on one shared goal – increasing revenue. And the impact was almost instantaneous.
In just a few weeks we’ve found:
- A 50% increase in qualified leads
- A deeper understanding of who we should be targeting, and how we can help them
- And, yes, a noticeable increase in sales revenue
Now marketing can generate leads, sales can work to close them, and both teams work together to make sure the entire system is more agile and efficient than before.
Just as importantly, our staff are finding it makes their work better too, as our Digital Marketing Specialist, Jenny, explains:
“In moving from teams with individual goals and budgets towards a single, unified team, the feeling of individual ownership of our responsibilities has actually increased. There’s a greater sense that we are all parts in a larger process, with our own specific skills and essential roles to play.
“From the marketing side, I now have a better understanding of which material is needed by our sales people and requested by our prospects. This is a huge improvement on the situation at my previous organization, where sales and marketing were working in silos, and had to create target groups and campaigns based on best-guesses.”
Fredrik and Jenny
Implementing the change in your organization
Changing your processes and roles can be fairly quick and easy. But changing mindsets? That’s a lot harder.
If you’re ready to follow in our footsteps, Fredrik, our Sales Director has some best practice advice:
- Don’t underestimate how long you’ll need – implementing change always takes time
- Set key metrics and targets for the combined team, and if you don’t reach those targets, take action
- Establish which key metrics and targets are linked to which team roles
- Use team workshops to evaluate and optimize each part of your sales and marketing process – and measure the impact of these individual changes on overall outcomes. Even a small improvement in lead qualification can reduce the number of pre-sale meetings, and deliver a big improvement in overall outcomes, for instance.
The power of a single, integrated revenue engine
Our conclusion? Instead of striving to draw a line between marketing and sales, there’s a lot to be said for bringing them together to create a single, integrated revenue engine for your business.