Mind the gap between marketing and sales

Work with us

By Jeff Campbell

This is a familiar phrase to all those who have used the tube to get around London. It may also be familiar to those who continue to try to reconcile the information we often use to measure marketing effectiveness with sales forecast. In other words, trying to answer the question, “How will my marketing spend translate into revenue?”

Along the continuum from awareness to closed sale, marketers and sales leaders use many measurements to manage the processes and understand the effectiveness of various investments. The thing is, marketing uses metrics like impressions, click-through rate and conversions (among many others) to understand the effectiveness of campaigns while in sales, measurements are typically activity-based or state-based. Some examples include: number of leads, number of calls, number of opportunities by stage, and so on. All of the sales measurements are provided through the sales people themselves while the marketing measurements are taken directly from prospects’ actions.

Getting from A to B

So you see, this is akin to measuring the distance between two points using two different units of measure. Imagine trying to be on time for an appointment somewhere and asking directions to get there. The directions are described as 10 minutes straight down the road in one direction and then five miles along another street. This leaves you to probe with further questions so you can determine more accurately how far and how long it will take to get there. You must be astute enough to ask questions like: what is the speed limit? Are there any mandatory stops along the way? Is there construction or other detours I should be concerned with? And so on. You get the idea.

Then there is the issue of trusting the answers you get. I am not suggesting that anyone would intentionally provide erroneous information. However, some of the questions may be answered with an opinion, poor judgment or lack of experience. The questioner is left to probe further to qualify the answers. This kind of repartee is what makes up the traditional sales forecast review with reps. Sales leaders get very good at it and senior leaders recognize and rely on this to ensure accurate forecasts from sales.

The gap

Yet the issue remains. Marketing measurements, by and large, are based directly on prospects’ engagement with materials and their subsequent actions. Sales measurements, by and large, are based on sales representatives’ log of events, observations and interpretations. Therein lies the “gap” between the platform (marketing) and the train (sales).

To demonstrate what I mean, let’s go back to the “asking for directions” metaphor. If that same person who asked for directions had a GPS available to them, the situation would be very different indeed. This one device would determine the route using the map information, interrogate a database to determine if there is construction en-route, know the speed limits and how many intersections with traffic lights are between the starting point and the destination. With all of this information it could then calculate distance and estimate the amount of time it would take to arrive at the end point. All measurements are consistent, either distance (miles) or time (hrs:mins:secs). Most importantly, the results provided are immediately coherent.

Mind the gap

Yet, in our marketing-sales continuum the gap remains and managers continue to spend time and effort to add value to make the measurements and forecasts coherent. These are the folks who “mind the gap.”

Reconciling this gap is, I believe, an opportunity for a provider in the evolving social business software category. Extending these types of solutions into the selling process in a way that benefits B2B sales people seems, to me, to be the way to go. By this I mean providing a toolset that makes the sales person more productive at what they do, which is interact with people to influence them toward a buying decision, while integrating the marketing content and consistent customer engagement measurement techniques into that process.

In a future post I will describe some of the benefits and new opportunities for improvements and perhaps the breakthrough that such a solution could bring to marketers and sales leaders.

Image: Coetail

With more than 30 years spent in companies large and small — from the Microsofts and EDS Systemhouses of the world to fast-growth startups — Jeff has a thoroughly rounded perspective on exactly what it takes to bring technology to market. Jeff offers business development advice for RemoteRep® from Coretex Group Inc, a novel e-based system that connects marketing with sales and provides real time feedback and response mechanisms.

Leave a comment:

Join us

Events We're Attending:

  • image description
  • image description
  • image description
  • image description
  • image description
  • image description
  • image description