The strict separation between Marketing and Sales is a thing of the past in the B2B segment. The trend is going in the direction of breaking down existing department borders and establishing professional customer experience management. Why? Read the answer here.
Similarities and differences between Marketing and Sales
Both Marketing and Sales cater to the task of bringing products or services to the people in the best way possible – in other words, in the B2B segment, to the business customers. The traditional separation of tasks looks like this: while Marketing is responsible for the advertising of products or services of a company, Sales is concerned with profit margins. Marketing therefore ensures demand among customers, and Sales brings the products to the customers or performs services for them.
The responsibility for profits used to lie mainly with Sales, especially in the area of B2B. The Marketing department was in charge first and foremost of things such as the production of brochures or the organisation of trade fair appearances. But this strict separation is continually becoming blurred. Ongoing digitalisation is making a profound contribution to bringing Sales and Marketing together on a higher level. This phenomenon is underscored by the Digitalisation Index in Marketing and Sales survey, which was conducted by the University of Applied Sciences Essling, in cooperation with KPMG. According to the survey, companies are noticing that the customer journey does not easily allow a separation of the two departments. For instance: an own Web shop in which both the sales channels and the marketing-relevant aspects must be represented.
Extended sales funnel for Marketing
The blurring of these borders can also be seen in the sales funnel. This model provides an opportunity to illustrate the customer journey. It is divided into three phases:
- Top of the Funnel (ToFu) covers the awareness phase of the customer. Here, their attention is grabbed.
- Middle of the Funnel (MoFu) covers the consideration phase in which the customer is already thinking about solutions for their problems.
- Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) covers the conversion phase in which the customer is open to becoming a lead.
Traditionally, Marketing has primarily been active in the awareness phase, when the right content should reach the target group via advertising. Sales then came into the game in the consideration phase, when the objective is to present the product to the target group as a part of the solution. The conversion phase was largely the Sales’ sole domain.
Today, we are noticing that Marketing is playing an ever more important role in the sales funnel and responsibility is shifting. This is because the progress of digitalisation is leading to the authority over information moving from Sales to the customers themselves. Due to the comprehensive information-gathering possibilities via various channels, the purchasing process is quite advanced before a potential customer ever contacts a vendor – bringing Sales into the picture. This is especially the case in B2B, where the topics and products continue to be complex.
Marketing can therefore support the customer by providing relevant content during a large leg of their procurement process – and then “push” them through the sales funnel shortly before the lead. Sales analyses the leads and, in best case, closes the deal.
Marketing and Sales as one
Both departments are therefore dependent on one another when it comes to the company’s overall success. However, they take different approaches: while the Marketing team usually thinks in terms of products and the future, Sales is generally customer-centric and focused on short-term success.
This can lead to tensions between the departments. To ensure seamless customer support, Marketing and Sales should collaborate better in future and see themselves as one single unit. The aim is to dismantle the departments’ existing way of working in silos and to put the spotlight on customer benefits when it comes to digitalisation. The overarching goal is a holistic customer experience with relevant content at each station of the customer journey.
Ongoing dialogue, frequent mutual feedback and clear definitions of goals on both sides are necessary to achieve this. After all, a lack in transparency when it comes to goals, customer benefits and communication inevitably leads to conflicts, which ultimately has a negative impact on profits.