Marketing and sales – a relationship as old as business itself
The pandemic and lockdown have had an intriguing effect on the crucial rapport between marketing and sales in businesses. Here we get a perspective from both sides at DFP, analysing the importance of their roles and looking forward to the future.
Sales success depends on our ability to build trust and understanding with existing or prospective customers. This hasn’t been easy for the past 12 months as we’ve all adjusted to working remotely and holding meetings online.
Virtual time slots don’t lend themselves to the natural preamble of face-to-face encounters, nor to the after-meeting chit chat about football, plans for the weekend, whatever. Yet these informal snatches of conversation are the essential mortar for building our relationships. With new prospects it is even harder. And we have to acknowledge that our marketing colleagues are also having to overcome some big hurdles.
Much of our B2B lead generation comes from attending industry events. We’ve launched two products during the pandemic, and it hasn’t been possible to showcase the great work we’re doing directly to a genuinely interested audience. Trade events are attended by people who want to know how to make their work lives more efficient and effective, and ultimately more rewarding.
We may bemoan marketing for flights of fancy with giveaways, promotional literature and the like, but live events create huge opportunities for the relationship building that we hope to turn into sales. So, yes, we’d really like marketing to be back to doing all the ‘frivolous’ things that we condemn them for.
Historically, much of our development has come from hosting collaborative working/tech workshops as the insurance market is extremely receptive to learning about new tech. Unfortunately, the current more formal nature of introductions has changed the speed of engagement. Without office phone lines and extension numbers, it’s nigh on impossible to make that quick call to follow up any leads. And who gets the blame for lack of sales?
We mostly miss the marketing team producing the customer-tailored proposals and collateral that we’ve had to build ourselves during the past 12 months. I’d much prefer my diary to be full of meetings – at both formal and perhaps less formal venues…
Marketing is hard for most organisations but if we can’t blame our sales colleagues for missed opportunities, where are we?
Without the sales team out there hustling and generally producing hot air, B2B marketing is finding it much harder to make the connections needed for fruitful relationships. Sales teams need personal contact to build these. Without it, there are fewer chances for us to bemoan missed opportunities, celebrate the joy of success, or get irritated by the poor quality feedback gathered from customers.
For sales, an intense 45-minute video call is no substitute. There’s no frivolity, no off topic, no ‘fancy a beer?’ as a sign-off. An online event doesn’t come close to the reconnections and lead yield of a live gathering.
In an appreciation of these gallant warriors, I would like to acknowledge how much we miss them. How we can’t wait to not be able to get hold of them, receive feedback, become irritated by their inability to complete all fields in a CRM report… Roll on the end of lockdowns so you can enjoy the pub, gym, spa, golf course – or whatever ‘meetings’ you need to set up.
Sales and marketing work best when they work together. Perhaps COVID has made us appreciate each other a bit more.
Despite the myriad challenges of the past year, marketing and sales have forged a strong relationship, and have supported each other through these tough times. And this is hugely important for a start-up. And, on 15 April 2021, Tommy and Tara finally met up in person. Here’s to the future and a resumption of business as usual – or as close as we can make it.