Why marketers really can’t sell…but should

I was talking with a friend last week that works in marketing at a large organisation. The conversation came up about the latest project they were working on, which in his opinion, his sales teams didn’t “get”.

He was frustrated and venting about how the sales team was a disaster, stuck in their ways not capable of changing. In his view, they couldn’t have done anymore to make sure the sales team understood the program they were running and there was nothing that could be done.

This seemed like yet another battle in the long-running, time-honored sales vs. marketing feud. But to me, my friend was just as bad as his sales team. Is it not marketing’s job to sell in their program properly and get buy-in from the sales team, just as much as it’s the sales team’s role to understand the program and pull together behind it?

It’s a problem that I’ve seen from both sides during my career and, to be honest, one I’ve been guilty of myself. But I don’t understand why it’s still such a problem today. Ideally, in any well-performing business, your sales and marketing teams need to be in lockstep together.

I know I’m risking being attacked by my marketing brethren, but I think the bigger part of the problem lies with marketers. Sometimes we forget there are two customers: the end customer that uses our product/service, and the sales channels that sell them. Running product training, launching a new campaign, explaining why a digital program really will get leads, all of this relies on the marketing team selling in their product/service/program through the channel. At the end of the day as a marketer…you’re really a salesperson! And if selling-in your marketing program is not a part of your strategy, then you’ve failed before you’ve even begun.

In working with our clients I always ask some fundamental questions: How will you sell this in to your sales team? Do you have a strategy to get their buy-in? Have you articulated what’s in this for the salesperson? Are you giving them the information they need to execute effectively? Are you clear on the sales targets you to meet? Is your sales training plan clear and concise?

I’ve always believed that a good marketer is also a good salesperson and vice versa. Now being in my own business and having to do every role imaginable, I find the salesperson side of me becoming more and more important. We really aren’t that different, salespeople and marketers. At the end of the day, we all have to sell!