When I pose the question, “What is marketing?” I typically receive complicated, convoluted answers. An answer like “Promoting your brand to increase your customer base” is pretty good. However, some people start tripping over words like branding, advertising, sales, promotion, etc. The simplest definition of marketing is the generation of ideal customer leads for your sales team. That’s truly what marketing should be doing. Marketing should be placing a ball on the tee for your sales team to drive out of the ballpark.
The marketing function is comprised of many tactics. Tactics like branding, advertising, web design, email, direct mail, webinars, social media, etc. A mix of these tactics will allow you to reach your ideal customer and generate leads for the sales team. In turn, the sales team will build relationships with these leads and hopefully convert them into paying clients.
Many people will argue that the sales team should be handling lead generation, but I disagree. The skill sets of sales and marketing people are very different. Sales people are more tactical and focus on building one-on-one relationships with qualified prospects. Listening and tailoring an optimal solution are the primary responsibilities of a sales person. On the other hand, marketing people are more strategic. Their focus is on developing a plan to reach your ideal customer with a timely message. Once the leads are qualified by the marketing team, they are handed off to the sales team so they can understand the prospect’s challenges and develop a plan to help.
Both marketing and sales need to be on the same page with issues like a company’s ideal customer profile, department roles and responsibilities, and the definition of a qualified lead. If marketing and sales are focusing on the tasks they perform best, your company’s business development activities will be running at an optimal level.