this morning I came across a post on the new challenges marketers face by dave wieneke, who runs digital marketing over at sokolove law. the article addressed the age-old tension between marketing, whose job it is to bring customers in the door, and sales, whose job it is to make…er, I mean help those customers buy something. the traditional exchange goes something like this:
marketing: “I delivered 3,000 leads last month. why aren’t sales higher? you should spend more time selling and less on the golf course!”
sales: “where’d you get those leads, out of the phone book? they were crap!”
a battle as old as time
who’s right? who’s wrong? to his credit, dave comes down on the side of the sales guys. he does note that marketing is not completely to blame – they are succeeding according to their traditional benchmarks. whether with old media, new media or the latest, appealing content, marketing remains good at buying traffic. wieneke continues:
But these converts are a very long way from being qualified leads, and even further from being ROI. A qualification process lies ahead, as does a ride on the sales cycle, and the support process of onboarding, before the revenue starts rolling in. Like the March of the Penguins, it’s a long ordeal. Especially without air support from marketing.
wieneke blames ‘web-enabled’ changes in the purchase cycle for the breakdown. customers have far more ability to research vendors and their offerings than in the past. moreover, the information that prospects are receiving is not static – it’s a dynamic, constantly growing pool including data from far more sources, especially peer input. new social networking tools have created an explosion of consumers and businesspeople sharing questions, opinions and expertise. sales and marketing professionals face a much better informed marketplace. and dave notes that these informed customers are less willing to enter the sales process until they are much further into the purchase cycle.
glass half full
however, fear of these challenges can obscure the enormous opportunity that exists. sure, prospective customers know far more about you – but you, in turn, can benefit from access to information about them! marketing as a discipline is undergoing a radical shift from message creation and distribution to interactivity and engagement. it’s no coincidence that the latter qualities are the mark of a superior salesperson. dave used a term he heard from debbie qagish (pedowitz group) to describe this new marketing model: ‘smarketing.’ based on the skill blending I describe, the ’smarketing’ coinage is highly appropriate. marketers must acquire or develop the relationship-building skills of top salespeople.
art, not science
as we marketers transition from a broadcasting mentality to one focused on instigating and participating in customer conversations, we by necessity evolve from paint-by-number virtuosos to real artists, skilled in engaging with the world around us to bring our work to life. the customer knowledge that comes from this transition will serve, in many cases, as the additional qualification and lead nurturing our sales teams require. another benefit of marketers behaving more like salespeople will be a lowering of the barriers between the disciplines.