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We Caught ‘Em, You Skin ‘Em (The Saga Between Marketing And Sales — Part 1)

by David Brock on August 18th, 2014

We’ve all heard some variation of the same story:  Two hunters are in the woods, they’re separated.  All of a sudden one hunter runs by the other at top speed screaming his head off.  He’s being chased by a bear.  As he passes the other hunter he yells, “I caught him, you skin him!”

Sometimes that seems a perfect description of the relationship between marketing and sales.  Marketing spends it’s time trying to create demand—any kind of demand.  They “caught the leads,” it was sales responsibility to “skin them.”

But in this story, sometimes it seems marketing and sales are oblivious to each other.  They’re each hunting bear, crossing paths, sometimes getting in each other’s way, sometimes blaming the other for screwing up the shot.

We sales people think “they” don’t care.  We used to think that marketing’s criteria for a hot lead was the prospect had to “fog a mirror.”  Later, the more cynical of us, thought, marketing didn’t care if the lead was alive or dead—for them, success was the lead, everything after that was sales responsibility. (We caught ‘em, you skin ‘em.)

Marketing would get upset with us, the sales guys, saying, “They never follow up, they never close the leads, they are missing all the opportunities.  They groused at us sales guys for not closing out every lead—because that’s what they were measured on.

Occasionally, almost by accident, a lead would turn into an opportunity, sales would chase it, win it, there was momentary euphoria, the marketing/sales process worked.

But there were some things that marketing did we sales guys liked.  They provided endless amounts of brochures, mostly meaningless, but at least in full color with lots of pictures.  I used to fill my briefcase with them.  It was always great to leave them with customers, sometimes, they were a great excuse to see customers.

Two functions, acting independently, marginally acknowledging each other, but mostly doing their own things.

This was, in too cases still is, the kind of odd co-existence between sales and marketing.  We each kind of know we need each other.  There were moments of great collaboration interspersed with long periods of ignoring each other.

Fast forward to today—much of the story is the same, but everything around us has changed.

All that stuff we used to do, that really didn’t work well then, isn’t working at all.  Neither sales nor marketing is achieving their goals.  Executive management is asking tough questions, usually focused on “what are we paying you folks to do?”

What’s changed?  Well, it’s pretty simple, but since we are so focused on our products and solutions, we tend to miss it.

It’s the customer that’s changed.  Customers have far different expectations, requiring us to engage them differently.  Let’s look at some data:

  • Research shows buyers are a minimum of 57% of the through their buying process before engaging sales people.[i]
  • 46% prefer creating a short list of alternatives before making a decision to reach out to sales people.[ii]
  • 77% of B2B buyers indicate they do not talk with a sales person until they have completed independent research.[iii]
  • 78% indicate the number of people involved in the buying decision have increased.  Average B2B buying group size is 5.4.[iv]
  • With larger buying groups, it becomes more difficult to reach a decision, with the likelihood that No Decision Made of greater than 60%.[v]
  • 67% of the buyer’s journey is done digitally.[vi]
  • Yet 53% of customer purchase decisions are made because of their buying experience.[vii]

Confusing isn’t it!

Buying has changed!  To effectively align with the customer through their buying process, both sales and marketing have to change the way customers are engaged.  What we did before didn’t work very well, now it’s a recipe for failure—all while spending lots of money.

We have to change the conversations, we have to change how we engage our customers.  We can only do this by working together.  We can no longer think of marketing and sales as separate processes, but as tightly interleaved.

First, what the customer cares about is different.  It’s no longer about us (if it ever was)—our products, services, and how wonderful we are.  Instead, the conversations have to be about the customer, their business, opportunities and challenges they face and how we can help them improve.

Customers want to learn, they want to be taught.  As popularized in the Challenger Sale, Insight becomes critical.  Sales must now engage the customer earlier and differently.  It’s no longer just finding a customer with a problem, determining their needs and requirements, presenting a solution.  Sales must help the customer understand there may be new ways to do things, opportunities they are missing.  We might be engaging the customer long before they even recognize the need to change.

Marketing is different.  Relevant content, talking about the customer and their business is critical.  Content must be relevant to the customer role/persona.  It must be relevant to where they are in their buying process, helping move the customer as they become ready to move to the next phase, complementing or supplementing sales.

So, I’ve laid the groundwork for a new approach to engaging our customers.  What’s this mean for how Marketing and Sales work together?  Do we continue as we have—Marketing catches them, Sales skins them.  Or do we change?

In Part 2, I’ll discuss more about what these changes in customer engagement mean to how Marketing and Sales are most effective.

This post originally appeared in SAP’s The Customer Edge.


[i] CEB Evolution Of Digital Marketing, 2012

[iii] 2013 DemandGen Buyer Behavior Survey

[iv] 2013 CEB Study On B2B Decisionmaking

[v] 2013 CEB Study On B2B Decisionmaking

[vi] Sirius Decisions (don’t have specific reference)

[vii] CEB, The Challenger Sale

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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4 Comments
  1. Brian MacIver (@Palayo) permalink

    The way I heard it:
    One of the Hunters stops to change into running shoes.
    The other exclaims:
    “You still won’t be able to outrun the bear!”.

    To which the Hunter with the running shoes replies:
    “I don’t need to outrun the bear,
    I just need to outrun YOU!” :))

    This has become The Law of Competitive Selling.

    • 😉 A not so subtle lesson that we should all learn. We just have to be a little better than our competition.

  2. Brian MacIver (@Palayo) permalink

    Sorry, Dave.
    I should just have said GREAT Blog,
    look forward to the sequels!
    BMAC

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