The Power of Two - Marketing and Sales

by Jacques Werth, Founder of High Probability Selling.  © 2005

Leads: Salespeople need them, and Marketing Departments (theoretically) generate them.  In a perfect world, the salesperson's challenge would be to keep up with the flood of qualified prospects that Marketing funnels out to them.

In reality, however, the Marketing-Sales lead scenario often plays out like this: “We work our tails to the bone getting the salespeople leads, but they hardly ever follow-up with the prospects, and we never hear about it if they do,” lamented Andy, the Marketing Manager, during a recent training program.

“They give us loads of leads,” agreed salesperson Bert, “but they're no damn good.  Then, they want a full report on each of them about what transpired within a week after we get the leads.  I'd rather do without leads than do all of that useless work.”

What's going on here?  Who's right - Bert or Andy - Sales or Marketing?

In many companies, the Marketing and Sales departments work at cross purposes, rather than bolstering each other's efforts.  Each department is communicating different messages to different people.

The result? When Bert follows up on Marketing Department-generated leads, “...almost all of them indicate that they don't know if they will ever be genuine prospects,” said Bert.  “Yet, some of them try to get me to visit them, because they are 'really interested' in our products.  If I waste time on low probability prospects, I won't be able to spend my time with prospects that are ready to buy or specify our products now.”

Bert knows that a real prospect is someone who is ready, able, and willing to buy his capital equipment product - now.  Following up with 'interested' prospects would be a waste of time.  The need to justify his reluctance to pursue low probability prospects to Marketing, and his manager, wastes yet more time and causes unnecessary friction.

Marketing and Sales should be working together towards a common defined objective.  Marketing creates Brand Awareness and communicates Product Knowledge to the market, generating Acceptance among target companies.  Sales contacts the individuals at targeted companies responsible for Specifying and Buying its products.

The breakdown between Marketing and Sales occurs when the Sales cycle is left out of the equation.  Sales should be consulted before marketing communications are sent out: Messages need to be targeted appropriately to different levels of Decision Makers who are at different stages in the Sales Cycle.  Lead generation needs to qualify the prospects, and those not ready to buy should be entered into the Company database and receive continuous marketing messages.

Ideally, Andy and Bert would be working together to define and refine the Company's target markets and target Companies.  They would work together to develop a detailed database of individuals at target companies who influence, specify, and authorize Buying for their products and services.  Andy's Marketing Department would generate the universe of prospects, and Bert wouldn't be expected to contact a prospect until Marketing had determined that the targeted company had entered the Specifying or Buying mode.

When good things happen, Sales and Marketing should both be able to rightfully claim that it was due to their efforts and expertise.  That's the Power of 2.