B2B Marketing and Sales are not Sequential Activitities

For a large part of my professional career, I considered marketing and sales to be interrelated but sequential elements of any business.

Marketing generates leads.  These leads are recorded and delivered to sales.  Marketing goes back to generating more leads.

Sales converts leads into orders/contracts.  Complains about lack of leads.

Rinse. Repeat.

This model probably still works in some companies.  Especially large B2C or product-based industries.  But for B2B service companies, there is a better way.

I believe that sales is part of the marketing process for acquiring customers – rather than a separate and distinct step.

You don’t want your marketing people generating leads and then simply “throwing them over the wall” to your sales team.  That is a total abdication of responsibility and accountability. Each and every lead / prospect should be owned by your marketing team throughout the entire client acquisition process.

Once generated, leads should be assigned to sales/salespeople, but it is marketing who should ensure that:

  1. The correct messages / products are being pitched to the prospect.
  2. Feedback is gathered on the quality of the lead.  This is a feedback loop from the sales team to ensure that the sources of leads are delivering the appropriate levels of quality.
  3. The lead is being progressed through the sales funnel.  If the prospect is not ready for sales conversion, then these should come back to marketing for further nurturing – as opposed to simply being flagged as “dead” by the sales team.

The entire process starts to look more like this:

I’ve been involved with this revised approach for a while now, and I can tell you that it works.  Everyone has a clearer understanding of ownership and accountability. The quality of the leads improves because it is being measured and tracked and then used to determine which activities are working and which are not; and the sales team work only those leads/prospects that are in the sales conversion stage of the buying cycle – which means a higher conversion rate for them and more commission.