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Sales & Marketing - What's the Difference Anymore?

The buying environment has changed significantly over the past 10 years. Buyers are more informed now than ever before. They have access to more information than any business can control. Whether you're in a B2B or a B2C setting, consumers of your product or service will know enough through 3rd party reviews, referrals, and your website to make a decision before even speaking with someone from your organization. So what does that mean in terms of how businesses adjusting?

The truth is that buyers evolve way faster than sellers. I wrote about this in The Ultimate Differentiator: Originality where I covered how an individual can separate themselves in a sea of sameness. But how can the business take a fresh approach to their go-to-market strategy? The line between sales and marketing is becoming Increasingly blurred. Functions that are typical "marketing" activities are being handled by sales and "sales" activities are being handled by marketing. I've talked to sales departments who say things like, "shouldn't marketing be doing this?" and marketing departments that say the same about sales.

In today's age of information, the tension between sales and marketing continues to grow. It's perfectly normal for tension to exist and it's actually healthy to a certain extent. It's a good thing for sales to want more out of marketing and marketing to expect more out of sales. Some tension keeps the business healthy and growing but too much can tear the business apart. Sales will always want more leads from marketing and marketing will always want sales to close more deals. At the end of the day, sales and marketing are both striving for the same revenue goal so they should both be held responsible for hitting that number.

In terms of day to day activities, there is a large handful that fall into a gray area between marketing. The most common, and maybe debated, is the BDR/SDR function. In some organizations, that team is a part of marketing and in others, sales. Lead generation and demand generation isn't the only task that falls in the chasm between sales and marketing. Product demos are normally handled by someone in sales but it might be the most crucial point of content delivery in the entire buyer's journey. Messaging is something that typically falls under the scope of marketing but in most cases, the sales department has the experience of speaking with customers and prospects and knows what has worked and what has not. Finally, conferences are always somewhere between sales and marketing. These are just a few examples where sales and marketing either work together or work in conflict.

With all of these functional areas where there is overlap, it's a wonder why they are separate departments in the first place. Since sales and marketing are the two most integral players in achieving the revenue goal, and they overlap in all of these functional areas, they should be a single team. When sales and marketing aren't aligned, it causes missed quota and more importantly, it can be awkward from the perspective of the buyer.

At the end of the day, both sales and marketing are about creating information and getting it in front of people with the goal. Maybe we should start thinking of these two major functions as a single department. In a way, sales is really marketing in real-time and marketing is really planned marketing.

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