Sales and Marketing are Different — But When They Align, Great Things Happen for B2B Businesses

Here’s the difference between growth marketing and inbound sales — and how to help them work together. 

Sales Photo - Stephanies Article

Compared to B2C, B2B Sales and Marketing can be complex. You focus much more heavily on interpersonal relationships. The sales cycle is longer. And the conversion rate just isn’t as high. Both Sales and Marketing are always looking at that closed deal number — because that's the ultimate goal. But what's the role of each?

The confusion about who's responsible for what usually boils down to this: both departments drive revenue growth. And... well, that’s it. So, they’re the same thing, right?


What B2B Sales Does

Sales is: 

  • direct link to customers: salespeople interact directly with potential clients
  • Responsible for building interpersonal relationships
  • Responsible for customer retention
  • Responsible for closing the sale

The sales department is made up of people who meet with potential clients, current clients, and prospects in order to, well, make sales and increase customer retention. Sales staff are the ones who are constantly on the go, playing golf, attending events, having working lunches, and closing deals. Salespeople often work on commission (or salary + commission), and they are essential for any B2B business. But so is Marketing. 

And Here's What B2B Marketing Does

Marketing Photo- Stephanies Article

Marketing is:

  • An indirect link to customers. Marketing teams raise awareness of the company’s offerings and encourage potential clients to engage with the company’s products
  • Responsible for walking customers through the buyer’s journey
  • Responsible for making the sale possible
  • Involved with development and execution of:
    • Product
    • Pricing
    • Promotion
    • Placement
  • Dependent on data and analytics to drive decisions
  • Administrative

The marketing team is made up of people that work at computers and utilize technology to drive awareness and sales. Marketing staff members generally do not meet with clients. They're paid a salary or an hourly rate. Their job is to gather prospects and walk them through the buyer’s journey.

Marketing is behind all of the advertising you see (Facebook ads, Google Ads, billboards, etc), and all of the content that you may end up consuming in your search for answers (blogs, case studies, webinars, etc). The department is responsible for a wide variety of activities, including but not limited to content creation, promotion, and data analysis.

Traditionally, it is also involved in product design, logistics, and pricing. Since the Marketing department is responsible for a wide variety of activities, larger companies tend to have massive teams that are broken up into sections. Marketing is the single most essential department for any business, whether you’re B2B or B2C.

The Marketing to Sales Handoff

When the prospect finally reaches the late consideration or the decision stage, Marketing hands those leads to Sales. This is the Marketing to Sales handoff.

Making sure this process is optimized drives revenue growth for B2B businesses. This process is an essential component in making sure your business succeeds. And making sure that even as they perform different roles, your Sales and Marketing departments are speaking the same language, communicating clearly, and working as part of a holistic overall strategy is what's called Sales and Marketing alignment.

This is an essential process as customers respond much more positively to a seamless transition — rather than a salesperson failing to demonstrate knowledge of and accounting for the actions that lead has taken.

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The End-to-End Process — From The Customer's Perspective

Imagine this scenario: you’re looking for IT solutions. You’re a CEO, CIO, or other chief executive responsible for the success of your company. Right now, you're using a bunch of different programs cobbled together — none of which interact with each other.

Things are taking five times as long as they have to. You’ve had problems with system downtime in the past, which has cost the company thousands of dollars. What do you do?

First, you start looking for ways to fix the problem. You start searching for ways to connect and stabilize your current business software. When that doesn’t work out, you start searching for new software. You find some great products, but they are all out of your budget — or seem too complicated to implement. Frustrated, you start to look into other things: do I need to hire IT staff? What kind of staff? How much will it cost me — versus how much would it be to hire consultants?

All of this is something you're actively doing, rather than passively receiving information through more traditional sales and marketing techniques. And the answers you're finding will be from the companies who took the time to put them there. The solutions you're arriving at will be those suggested by this content.

Making the Decision

You sift through the information, crunch some numbers, and start to consider local IT companies. You make a list of three to look at, and you compare their ratings, pricing, and general branding. You look through their available resources to see if they understand your problems. Have they ever worked with a company like yours before? Are they dedicated to quality? What sort of experience does the staff have? How long have they been in business?

Eventually, you decide on a company to contact, and you submit a contact form. Again, it will be the one whose Marketing department has best put together a case for that company. Then, a salesperson reaches out to book a meeting with you.

The success the salesperson will have will, in part, depend on how well Marketing has set the lead up, and provided Sales with the best information, for that lead, to close that sale. And how well the salesperson is able to step in and finish guiding the lead to the end of their own, personal, buyer's journey.

Here at Flawless, we’re experts in Sales and Marketing alignment. We've helped more than 80 B2B companies put the strategy into practice. We also offer Sales Enablement. If you need some assistance in getting your business set up for success, reach out to us. We’d be happy to help.

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