Sales and Marketing: Partner or Perish

Sandra Zoratti

Sales and marketing have a strong relationship. We rely on each other. We need each other.

However, Romeo and Juliet we are not.

But Romeo and Juliet we must become because our mandate is clear: partner or perish.

Here are two points that show the chasm that has long plagued marketing and sales (GoldMine blog):

50% of marketing spend is deemed ineffective by sales

70% of leads generated via marketing are not actively pursued by sales

How do we bridge this gap? First, admit there’s a problem. Second, take action to resolve.

Focusing On Step two: Resolving the Problem

I am either a marketer who works with some of the most amazing salespeople in the world or I’m in total denial because we’ve got a good thing going between our sales and marketing teams. We partner – truly partner – on the most contentious issues that lie between the two functions: finding and cultivating new prospects for our business.

Our partnership was something we sort of stumbled upon and developed over time. I am incredibly proud of the teams, as we have collectively generated over $14M in revenue from a marketing investment of $100K.

We’ve developed an aligned partnership. For the sake of clarity, I will describe our approach in three steps. For sake of authenticity, this is a great B2B approach.

As marketers, we know that our role in the sales/marketing partnership is to be a presales generator of highly qualified prospects. It’s not a volume thing, it’s a quality thing, and in order to dig in and really find quality prospects, the marketing team and I do a lot of planning, gathering and analyzing of where to place our bets and marketing spend.

We take an industry or vertical approach – within our top targeted industries – starting with research from our friend who answers all: Google. Then, we identify associations to join, partners to recruit, and relevant targets and messages to develop. Additional research around specific industry pain points and a vertically specific view of marketer vs. consumer perception helps us to become credible and relevant.

That is marketing’s presales role in our vertical approach.

Sales and Marketing Are Co-owners

We work together at creating an intimate, face-to-face event for individuals in an industry. Analysts and educators are brought in to share facts and trends, with ample time for facilitated and free form sharing and networking. We are the hub of the wheel, bringing it all together in an educational, business and social setting. (We are in Colorado? Yes, an unfair “setting” advantage).These events are one of our most helpful and effective ways to learn, to teach and to start building relationships. Current customers are invited and asked to share honest, unscripted feedback. Prospects are invited to learn more from peers.

At the end of these industry-themed events, we ask to be graded on the event. Consistently, I see rave reviews. The key is to have the discipline to do something for the good of the industry and the good of the attendees without any form of sell. This “detail” is the foundation for success and for truly uncovering and understanding, which individuals at the event can benefit from future discussions.

Now we know who would like to take a next step forward with us based on mutual interest.

The last step is spearheaded by our great sellers. In this step, the interested individuals from our event are invited into a relationship with us that our sales reps cultivate. The outcome of that relationship is based on what the customer wants. Consistently, it has translated into revenue opportunities because, in my view, we have made the investment to have a conversation that is honest and transparent enough to reveal ourselves to prospects. Then they can decide. The outcome is one in which everyone wins.

Partner or parish. It’s an irony, that being vulnerable enough to cross the chasm and partner with a challenger is the only way to triumph. In the Romeo and Juliet love story to be woven between sales and marketing, the partner approach will always win. Always.

Sandra Zoratti is Vice President of Marketing, Executive Briefings and Education at Ricoh, where she manages a business created from former IBM and Ricoh companies located in Boulder, Colorado. She is the author of “Precision Marketing: Maximizing Revenue Through Relevance.”