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When did sales and marketing stop talking to each other? As a persuasive copywriter with a marketing degree and sales in my DNA, I’ve always been perplexed by the artificial siloes I see between these two business functions – especially in big corporations.

In theory, sales and marketing share the same goals – to meet customer needs and as a result, sell more stuff. But perhaps because these teams are measured differently, or perhaps because one team doesn’t really understand what the other one does all day, there has been a rift. Marketing feels like no one appreciates them, sales deflects any hint of the blame for a bad quarter, and so the tension grows.

Well, that’s all about to change if the dominant conversations at Sydney’s recent (and inspiring) APAC B2B Marketing Forum is any indication. Because as far as our customers are concerned, it’s all one and the same in a digital world.

B2B Marketing is more than ‘pretty pictures and parties’

Marketing is getting serious about performance – which means measuring the impact and value of every activity. Some organisations may tie marketing incentives to NPS (net promoter score), but this is also about meeting the big business goals: revenue, profit and market share as much as cost per acquisition or customer lifetime value.

All this means it’s not enough to just ‘heave an opportunity over the wall to sales, where they have no idea what to do with it’, as Seismic CEO Doug Winter described today’s more typical process in his session. You have to work together to turn so-called qualified leads into solid gold sales.

Bringing insights to sales enablement

For many years, we’ve helped our marketing clients bear the brunt of those endless, ad hoc and all too familiar requests from sales.

“I need another brochure. Oh, and I’ve signed us up for this conference and I need a stand activation. Plus, can you write the PowerPoint for our sponsor address?”

All these things need words (fast) and we are grateful for this bread and butter work. But recently, things have shifted. Instead of acting as a service to sales, those same marketers are being more proactive in shaping the conversations sales teams have with their clients. Starting with robust market insights, rather than product features. Hallelujah!

Investing in highly tailored insights (such as Account-Based Marketing) is paying off for tech brands. Autodesk told us that using this approach for its top 8,000 accounts worldwide increased revenue by 33%. That’s revenue growth within its existing client base.

The problem is, this can be complex and time-consuming. Seismic calculated that if you created a targeted interaction for 16 buyer roles, 53 products, 12 industries, 3 business tiers and 22 languages, you’d have 671,616 different sales interactions. And guess who’s creating those? Marketing. No wonder they feel under-appreciated.

Working together is good for the brand

Technology can help, of course. It’s now possible to plug sales-enabling content into a CRM, so sales can ‘self-serve’ on the fly. Hopefully, this might also reduce the likelihood of rogue sales managers creating their own flyers, emails or sales decks – which we all know happens far too often, and with off-brand results.

According to Seismic, marketing teams spend too much time building custom content to support sales, and then sales teams go off to create their own because they think 78% of it isn’t relevant to the conversations they’re having.

That’s a problem. Sales shouldn’t be creating content, and they’d be the first to agree it’s not their skill set. Every extra hour they can spend following up leads and providing a great customer experience means more chance for both marketing and sales to achieve their goals.

It’s also encouraging to see ‘growth teams’ emerge, with people from sales and marketing working together. It sounds obvious when you think about it from a customer point of view. Sales knows what each customer is thinking. Marketing knows how to connect with that need and tell the story.

Together, they could be an unstoppable engine for growth. And we’ll still be here, providing the words to fuel it.

If you’d like to see an example of what I’m talking about, here’s something we worked on recently which relationship managers are now carving up and serving as a conversation-starter.

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