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Sales and Marketing Merge

Date: 29 October 2015

The news is rife with articles discussing the changing roles of sales and marketing professions and how they are in fact becoming more cohesive, almost forming a hybrid of the two departments that were once very separate.

A number of institutions and businesses have conducted research into the evolution of these two professions, tracing how the two divisions are growing closer and the professionals employed within are beginning to overlap in terms of their skillsets and the personality traits assumed by those at the top of their game in either department.

However, despite these supposed similarities, there is still a lot of misunderstanding between them. In the current climate, HubSpot – a marketing and sales platform provider – discovered that a staggering 87% of the terms used by sales and marketing professionals to describe each other are negative. Sales people are described as “simple-minded”, “incompetent” and “lazy” according the research; while marketers, on the other hand, are labelled an “arts and crafts” department, full of “academics” who are essentially “irrelevant.”

Usual arguments between the two revolve around marketers failing to provide sales staff with quality leads, and sales staff failing to follow-up on the leads they are provided with.

There is also a lot of misunderstanding between how revenue is generated and spent between the two. And yet businesses with a strong sales and marketing alignment experience 20% annual revenue growth; this is because the buyer’s journey is changing and, as such, businesses must ensure they make the internal changes to match.

Buyers have a lot more control over how and when they connect and engage with a business and its marketing efforts, and how and when they enter the sales funnel – if at all. The power now exerted by potential prospects is having a negative effect on sales and marketing departments that still maintain a cool distance; businesses should be looking to target these empowered buyers, but this cannot be achieved with two disparate departments.

It is essential for businesses to recognise the gains to be made by better aligning their sales and marketing teams, dispelling any animosity felt between the two and encouraging them to unify their goals for the good of their individual departments and the business as a whole.

By unifying the goals of each department – by increasing visibility into the process and progress of each – a business will ensure a more cohesive relationship, shared insights and the accumulation of new skills by professionals on either side.

But this has naturally led to a change in the specific skills and personality traits required by those in either profession – whether they be a long-standing sales or marketing employee, a new candidate, or someone looking to switch roles.

Potential sales and marketing candidates need to have experience in a number of disciplines to be competitive in today's market. Sales professionals, for example, quite often are now required to have a financial or technical background; having experience in finance means sales professionals will understand the figures they are required to hit, and a technical background places them in good stead when considering the rise in popularity of digital tools for enhancing sales (ecommerce is a rapidly advancing sector that requires an understanding of both sales and the technology being employed).

Technical expertise is also key for marketers; digital marketing is also gaining in popularity and is becoming an incredibly lucrative area for business. Candidates with more traditional marketing experience should consider investing in their skillsets when it comes to social media, other online platforms and services such as Google AdWords, for example.

It’s all about striking a balance between traditional sales and marketing techniques and the future technology being employed by both industries, as well as ensuring there is cohesion between the two departments. With technology playing a key role in enhancing each department separately, it can also be leveraged to increase understanding and alignment between the two.

As experts in corporate leadership recruitment, we understand the skills and experience required by those looking to enter both sales and marketing roles. For information on how to gain a foothold in either profession, contact DSJ Global today.

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