Sales and marketing are two functions within any small business that should be working in close harmony with one another.  Unfortunately, in most organizations big and small, sales and marketing not only do not work in conjunction with one another but are often at odds with each other, with each team pointing the finger at the other for shortcomings and failures.  There is a complete lack of sales and marketing integration. This situation can hurt the bottom line of a small business, especially in companies that use sales groups to interface with their customers.

However, in reality, marketing needs sales and sales needs marketing.  One of the most difficult challenges that small businesses face is how to integrate the efforts of sales and marketing to turn it into a well-run system that generates qualified leads that will ultimately turn into sales. The CMO Survey® asked top marketers to describe how their companies structure the marketing-sales relationship. 7% stated that sales is within marketing (marketing has the power), 10.3% noted that marketing is within sales (sales has the power) and 72% indicated that marketing and sales work together on an equal basis. Until that 72% is 100%, there’s still work to be done in the business world.

The line between sales and marketing is blurred

In the past, marketing pushed out messaging for a company behind the scenes, far removed from their target audience.  However, with the advent of social media and content marketing among other tactics, marketers have had to get up close and personal with the target audience and engage directly with them. They have had to become more adept at answering questions and providing information to that audience.  While there used to be a clear delineation and “handoff” of a lead from marketing to sales, now that line is blurred as marketers are engaging in more of a conversation with prospects long before they’re handed over to sales to close the deal. More so, even once a lead is given to sales to pursue, marketing will likely still be engaging with that prospect as well, hopefully through more targeted marketing messaging based on where that prospect is in the sales cycle.  Because of this team approach, sales and marketing need to work in collaboration to ensure a strong customer buyer journey for the prospect.

Working together for better lead quality

Sales and marketing integration also help with lead quality. Encouraging the sales team to give feedback on lead quality each month to marketing will help small business marketers better understand which types of leads are most likely to close so they can generate better quality leads. HubSpot actually has a name for this sales and marketing collaboration:  SMarketing, which is the alignment and connection between sales and marketing.

Find your most valuable clients through integration

The integration of the two teams will help small businesses identify their most valuable clients. If marketing has a clear understanding not only of which leads they provide the sales teams turns into business, but which customers end up being the most valuable, they can retool and refocus their marketing messaging to better attract those kinds of clients. The best way to garner this information is from communication with sales.

Sales, on the other hand, can learn from marketing which messages resonate with prospects.  How are prospects reacting to certain marketing messages on social media?  If the company has content marketing built into their small business marketing strategy, which blogs or content pieces are attracting the strongest leads?  Having that kind of insight can help sales better communicate with prospects by understanding their needs and aligning the company’s product or services offerings with the problem the prospect needs resolved.

Getting beyond the stereotypes of marketing and sales to full sales and marketing integration can be difficult. However, doing so improves the company’s bottom line and promotes a stronger, more effective, and more profitable environment for the small business.

Patty Hughes
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