Clearly the traditional view of Marketing–simply being a lead generation engine, focused at the top of funnel–no longer holds true. Marketing has a rapidly evolving role that takes it much deeper into the buying process than ever before. Neil Rackham defines it like this: “The role of marketing in the consultative problem-solving sales is around the buying cycle of helping customers at each stage of the buying cycle make better decisions.”
This reality demands a complete redefinition of not only the role of marketing but the relationship between sales and marketing. Sales needs to recognize that the part Marketing plays in the buying process has expanded, and that it has role to play at every phase of the cycle. Sometimes that role will be the primary one where they are the main interface between the organization and the buyer, supplying the buyer with the information they need, helping to create value for the buyer by intelligently uncovering their needs and facilitating their discovery process. Sometimes Marketing’s role will be more of a supporting one–helping Sales customize their value proposition, or supplying Sales with tools to help the buyer better evaluate a proposed solution. Sometimes it will be a partnering role where both Sales and Marketing are working together to help the buyer make their final decisions and resolve any concerns they have through relevant success stories and access to testimonials.
Whatever the role Marketing is playing, the important point is that Marketing is now playing a role at every stage, not just the front end. To look at it another way, the revenue generation process has become a continuum where sales and marketing are constantly and consistently engaged with their market in a much more fluid, overlapping and ultimately partnering way. But this can only be achieved through genuine Sales and Marketing alignment that goes well beyond the limited definition of alignment that most organizations labor under.