Tag Archives: sales

The rock star partnership of sales and marketing revisited

This week I’m going to a seminar on marketing for SMEs and entrepreneurs run by Ulster Bank in conjunction with SmallBusinessCan which promises to be an interesting affair.  Some of the topics under discussion on the SmallBusinessCan website will be addressed, such as:

  1. Marketing or sales?
  2. Social Media
  3. E-commerce, designing your website, app or website?
  4. The classics
  5. Cloud, social media, software and systems

I’m looking forward to hearing what the panel will say about the first topic.  One of SmallBusinessCan’s founders says “My personal view is that a good sales person is worth 10 marketers.”

First of all it should never be an either/or.  Both disciplines have their place in any organisation and, at their best, complement each other well.  I wrote about this before (and not just so I could post a photo of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in full flow).

Secondly, it is better to make selling everyone’s job rather than marketing.  Developing everyone’s ability to spot a sales opportunity and nurture it to a certain point before passing to the sales team will reap more dividends.  The same cannot necessarily be said for marketing though.  It’s a rare outfit that allows everyone in the organisation to contribute to the Facebook page or Twitter account although hats off to those who do.  This requires good training, trust and a blame free culture.

A recent survey by The Channel Partnership in conjunction with The Leadership Foundation found that over 80% of sales and marketing professionals believe their activities are not aligned, no doubt having a significant impact on the bottom line.  More than half said that the lack of a clear strategy was a key factor in the development of co-ordinated plans, as was lack of time, budgets, structured processes and senior direction.

Hubspot, the lead generation software people, has abandoned the traditional silo structure altogether in favour of wrapping their sales and marketing functions around buying personas, effectively banishing any ‘us and them’, ‘sales v marketing’ rifts.  It must work for them – they’ve recently raised $35m investment money to expand into Europe.

So marketing isn’t quite dead yet, then.


The rock star partnership of marketing and sales

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, image © Lynn Goldsmith, 1975

I recently had a conversation with someone who told me that they, quite frankly, didn’t think that any of the marketing activity I did had any impact whatsoever on sales.  (Don’t worry, this wasn’t someone from Learning Pool).

So, after marvelling at the complete lack of appreciation of how to sell and nuturing a slightly bruised ego, I started wondering about the different roles that sales and marketing teams have to play.

I’d never had cause to question this before,  having been fortunate enough to work with people who were either too polite to question the point of my work or who understand and value the role that marketing plays in a business.

How do the best marketing and sales people work in practice?  Or are they best kept apart for fear of damaging sensitive egos?

Just what are the different roles of sales and marketing teams?  And can you ever (whisper it) cut through the fluff of marketing and go straight to sales?

Here’s what I think marketing does:

  • develop the brand and messages
  • identify the target market and reach out to them
  • create the noise to get the company/product/service noticed
  • create engagement oppportunities, eg webinars, seminars, e-books, too3kits etc
  • generate good quality prospects

And here’s what I think sales does:

  • pick up those good quality prospects
  • nuture the one to one relationship
  • help the prospect to make the business case to buy
  • present, pitch, negotiate
  • close the sale!

So is it true that Sales teams are only interested in money and Marketing teams prefer pretty designs over tables of stats?

Maybe, in some companies.

The reality is that successful companies treat their sales and marketing teams as the opposite sides of the same coin.  Each team has an equally important job to do and one can’t exist without the other.

It’s marketing’s job to lay the ground work, set the stage and provide support to the sales teams who can then go forth and do their thing.

In the same way that the best rock star partners work together, feed off each other and produce something ultimately more fantastic* than if they were just performing on their own, so too do the best sales and marketing partnerships perform.

Just like Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

*no disrespect intended to Mr Plant’s illustrious solo career, not least his latest work with the wonderful Band of Joy.

Has anyone ever insulted your chosen career path or shown a complete lack of understanding about what you do?  I’d love to hear your stories, please share in the comments below.

The only three things you need to know about marketing

Open signThere are three things that a budding successful start up needs to understand about marketing and that is the triumvirate of customers, product and competitors. 

Without a thorough understanding of each of these three areas in relation to your business it will be very difficult to stay open for longer than six months, tops.

Strategic marketing is so important to a business that, without it, you have no business.  It is less about the number of followers you acquire on Twitter and fans you amass on Facebook (although this definitely has its place) and more about finding a profitable niche in the market that has your name on it.

Here’s my lowdown on what you need to know.


  1. Who’s likely to buy your product or service and what they might pay for it?
  2. What pain point do they have that your product or service is going to solve?
  3. Are there enough potential customers willing to pay the price you’re asking for you to stay in business?
  4. When do they buy?  Is your business heavily dependent on seasonal traffic and, if so, are you prepared for this?  Don’t miss the window
  5. Can you draw a profile of your customer?  Include who they are, where they live, what they’re currently buying now instead of your product or service and how they are influenced


  1. Can you identify the features and benefits of your product (and are you clear on the difference between the two?  Each feature should have a benefit) 
  2. Do you know what price your customers will pay for your product and is there enough margin in this for you to be profitable?
  3. How is your product different to and better than your nearest competitor’s?


  1. Do you know who they are, what they’re good at and what can you do about that?
  2. Do you know what they’re bad and how you can exploit this?
  3. What can you do to raise the barriers to entry?  Are there natural barriers to entry in the market place or do you have to create some with your business model?

No doubt there are more questions than I have listed here, I’d be interested to hear your views.

Finally, I read this definition of marketing some time ago somewhere on the internet (apologies if it was yours) and I thought it summed up the breadth of marketing quite well.

What is marketing?

If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday”, that’s advertising.
If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.
If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity.
And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.
If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.
And, if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing!