sales and marketing alignment

What Are The Differences Between Sales & Marketing – And How To Align Them

The two words “sales” and “marketing” are often used interchangeably in a business environment. But do you know they carry very different goals and functions?

  1. Sales

The sales approach is utilized to push customers to purchase your products or services. The goals of this approach are all about big sales volumes, high revenues and reaching the quotas, which are usually measured over a short-term period.

Examples of sale strategies include inbound selling, conceptual selling, customer-centric selling, etc.

With sales, you usually have a potential customer list, which can tell you who is interested in the product, their names and even their phone numbers or addresses. Thus, a major part of sale activities normally entails following up, qualifying leads and tracking customer databases.

If we take a look at the Funnel of Marketing/ Sales, we can see the difference between the audience base of marketing and sales activities. While marketing aims at wider groups of customers at the top of the funnel, the number of leads from sales is smaller, coming as a result of marketing’s productivity.

As such, without good sales methods, your marketing strategies may not convert into actual results. But at the same time, only when salespeople know their product well enough to promote its characteristics and price, can they persuade these customers. This brings us one step backward to marketing.

  1. Marketing

On the other hand, marketing is the planning process that leads to sales and everything thereafter.

Examples of marketing strategies include: social media marketing, SEO, email marketing, print, and display, etc.

Marketing follows the process of 4Ps (Products, Price, Place, Promotion) that involves a set of activities: marketers first choose the product to advertise, identify target customers and competitor insights, produce suitable advertising messages, and choose where the product is sold along with relevant pricing models.

While sales only focus on profitable contributions, marketing concentrates on the non-monetary value of the product or service (for instance, benefits, functions, lifestyle, connection). It’s true to say that marketing is about getting to know the customers, telling the brand stories, building loyal relationships and ultimately matching your products with their desires and needs.

As to its goals, the primary objective of marketing is to look at the big picture – not only to boost sales and generate higher revenues but also to increase long-term brand awareness and influence for more sustainable development. Keeping in mind that brand salience can’t be improved overnight, business owners should see marketing as a long-term investment instead of requiring instant ROI.

In short, marketing generates leads and the sales team is responsible for converting those leads into customers. Good marketing practices create a solid platform for successful sale activities.

  1. How to balance the two?

According to research,

  • The misalignment between marketing and sales is costing businesses around the world more than a trillion dollars per year.
  • Approximately 75% of marketing leads can be converted into sales.

So, how do we keep a harmonious balance between sales and marketing?

  • Always understand your customers

In terms of both sales and marketing, knowing your customer is crucial. To avoid a disconnection between sales and marketing, both departments should agree on who their target audience is. This will ensure that both activities focus on the right audience and maximize the chance of lead/sale conversion.

  • Keep a consistent message

Similarly, delivering a consistent message throughout the whole sales/ marketing process is important. You can start with establishing a standard brand guideline to lay the foundation for all sales and marketing activities. The guideline may include rules about your brand’s tone and voice, logo, copy, images, brand ethics, and so on, to ensure your brand promise is consistently delivered.

  • Track and measure results

Both sales and marketing efforts should be tracked. Collecting, measuring and analyzing such data would provide you with useful customer insights and how to improve on future strategies.

A recent report shows that 75% of companies see increased engagement when they use data-driven marketing. Using data the right way can help businesses optimize their marketing messages, reach the right people in the right place and at the right time, and boost engagement, return on investment, and overall revenues.

  • Keep both teams informed

Generally, marketing and sales are not contradictory in nature. In fact, marketers and salespeople should complement each other to create a smooth and productive sales funnel – and most companies ensure that both departments go hand-in-hand. Therefore, communication becomes critical to achieving an effective information flow.

In addition, using an overarching management platform can give sellers and marketers access to many useful features, such as: building and organizing strategies, storing customer information, managing sales and visualizing performance, as well as managing customer relationships.