For every type of organization and organizational structure you can think of, there are at least as many different approaches to marketing and sales. Whether they work in tandem, succession or as independent touchpoints, there’s often an unappreciated recognition of both the similarities and specific differences between the two disciplines.

It’s true that both marketing and sales drive consumers to purchase goods or a service to help build revenue. Both rely on metrics that represent prospect and customer/client behavior. Both are also chief players in inspiring a customer’s brand advocacy. Yet they differ in motivation and focus.

As economist Theodore Levitt once said, “selling focuses on the needs of the seller, marketing on the needs of the buyer.”

Marketing: Making Your Customer Matter

When you create marketing content–good, sustainable marketing content–it’s about establishing a connection with a potential customer and providing them with the sense that you understand them and have something meaningful to share about their journey.

To be clear, your meaningful offering at this point is advice that may nudge in your brand’s direction, but it’s not a deep-dive into your feature set. Think about yourself as a consumer. What are the things that would entice you to learn more about a brand? (Do that!) And what are the things that annoy you? (Avoid that!)

In marketing you’re a crying shoulder–the wise words of a good friend gently suggesting someone learn more about the best options for them. Once you’ve intrigued them with a relevant social media exchange, blog post or podcast episode that demonstrates your expertise, you’ve prepared them for the next stage of their journey.

Sales: Making Your Brand Necessary

When you create sales content–good, informative sales content–it’s about answering the questions a potential customer has before they even ask, and convincing them you have the solution that meets their needs today and tomorrow.

This is the time for pride in craftsmanship. It’s not enough to have created product X; it’s time to demonstrate how those other products from A to W can’t compare. This is the skill of sales, to read a customer’s tolerance for detail and empower them to make an informed decision through a delicate balance of technical specifications and intuition.

In short, sales turns interest into opportunity. What’s the unique value proposition of your brand? Why do other customers choose you, and why should this potential customer do the same? Marketing gives them empathy. Sales gives them information to take action.

Here’s an overly simplified example of how messaging might differ across marketing and sales:

Marketing and Sales: A Productive Partnership

When it comes to effective content creation for marketing and sales there are a couple of things to remember:

  • Despite the examples provided here, there are no hard-and-fast rules about either the nature or the categories of marketing and sales content. Marketing content doesn’t always need to be flashy or over the top and sales content doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unemotional or rote. It’s more important that any content you create consistently reflects your brand, and, to be most effective, is clearly defined for both its audience and its purpose.
  • Modern consumers have easy access to staggering amounts of data. That means they may or may not already be overwhelmed with information, have performed their own due diligence and/or formed an opinion before you’ve even entered their awareness orbit. Marketing and sales professionals increasingly need to think outside the box to create content that grabs and keeps the attention of consumers. That means fully embracing our digital-first world and best practices for online engagement as well as factoring in new consumer behaviors and expectations resulting from the pandemic.

Age-old ideas that pit marketing and sales against each other appear to be evolving and that divide is starting to shrink. According to Conversica’s 2021 State of Account-Based Marketing Report more than 80% of sales and marketing professionals believe sales is doing everything it can to close deals and more than 75% of sales professionals think marketing is doing everything it can to help sales close deals.

In fact, many organizations are adopting a “smarketing” ideology, where marketing and sales teams cooperate and take full advantage of their complementary skill sets for a strategic, integrated approach to attracting and retaining customers. When it all comes together the way it should, the customer walks away satisfied that your brand has delivered on what it promised. And your organization is positioned to be top-of-mind for both new business referrals and future business needs.

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