Imagine it's 2014 and you're the VP of Sales & Marketing for a company that sells technical and complex products to other businesses. You've walked through the sales area of your company’s office and are happy to hear phones ringing and your sales people diligently taking orders from new and existing customers. Your sales team – your biggest investment – has once again hit its quota. You sit down in your office and close your eyes to better appreciate the hum of activity. Business is good and you feel assured that you're doing the right things. You nod to yourself that spending as much as you do on your sales team, and as little as you do on the other aspect of your role - marketing - is the right decision.
Fast-forward to October 2020.
You walk through your company’s sales area and notice - yet again - that there is only a low murmur. You've been seeing the sales numbers slide for a while, and the sales people are grumbling that it is getting harder to find new clients and avoid dropping prices. There are few new customers - and almost no lead generation coming from your website. Your sales team is having an identity crisis. Accustomed to farming existing accounts or converting prospects who met you at the annual trade show, they are now drilling for water in the desert, hoping to hunt down a deal.
How Marketing Grows Sales
Every business-to-business (B2B) company must strike a delicate balance between its sales and marketing investments. And the traditional equation - very heavy spend on sales, very light spend on marketing - is changing.
In many B2B companies, marketing used to be seen as a non-essential function that cost more than it returns. In addition, because it's difficult to measure the results of marketing, executives lean away from it. Sales, on the other hand, are tangible and immediate.
As a result, small and mid-sized B2B companies typically allocate the majority of their revenue generation investment (ie, what they spend on sales and marketing), to sales rep salaries, sales collateral, and incentive plans that keep sales people knocking on as many new doors as possible.
The question is, does this formula still work? And, is it the most effective way to grow a company's revenues?
The answer, increasingly, is no.
The sales team should be focused on converting as many high-probability prospects as possible.
The marketing team, on the other hand, should be focused on raising the profile of the company (making prospects aware of it), creating a good reputation for the business (brand), generating leads, supporting the sales team with tools to convert prospects to deals, and generating loyalty and more business from existing customers. Read 5 Ways Marketing Impacts the Growth of Your Business.
If you are only investing in sales, you are investing in the short-term viability of your business.
Today, marketing is needed to raise the long-term success and viability of every B2B company.
Most small and mid-sized companies are making the shift from a sales head-count to investing in marketing (or some variation of that budget re-allocation).
There isn't a magic formula for how much sales investment is 'right' and how much marketing budget is 'right'.
How To Re-Balance Your Sales and Marketing Mix
Not sure how to make the shift in your business and find the right mix between sales and marketing?
Here's a recipe for getting marketing going, and moving towards a stronger balance between sales investment and marketing investment:
- Add a blog to your company website and start promoting it via social media. This will generate website traffic that can convert to leads for your sales team to pursue.
- Create a company newsletter that goes to your prospect database and drives traffic to your blog and website, and direct leads to the sales force.
- Share your expertise with your customers, through thought-leadership content like white papers and webinars. You will get prospects names and contact information when they download content.
- Have your sales team maintain an active social media presence and continue to engage prospects via the blog, the newsletter, and social media channels so that once the lead comes in, they never leave your ecosystem and continue to stay in contact with you.