New roles and overlaps

Justin Lee
Jul 12, 2018 · 7 min read

Marketing and sales. Sales and marketing.

It’s a relationship that’s as old as business itself. Sometimes it’s happy. Sometimes it’s amicable. Often, it’s rocky.

Sales and marketing departments can feel like married couples, distant cousins or casual acquaintances.

Until recently, the two departments lived (metaphorically at least) on different streets, or even in different neighborhoods. The conventional view of sales and marketing is that they are separate entities destined to work in isolation of each other.

And yet, they are clearly related. Marketing generates leads, and salespeople work to qualify those leads.

Working towards a shared goal in separate silos is unproductive, which explains why 79% of marketing leads don’t convert into sales.

In a recent Linkedin report of 3,516 sales professionals and 3,627 marketers, the majority said lack of alignment and collaboration between sales and marketing leads to weaker financial performance, poorer customer experience, and reduced customer retention.

But here’s another number: businesses that closely align sales and marketing have 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates.

And high-performing marketing teams are 12.8x more likely to coordinate efforts.

It’s official: when sales and marketing collaborate, metrics soar, costs decrease, and life cycles are more concise.

But how does that work in practice? It’s seductive to see fancy new tech as the short-cut answer. And technology will play a role, but it needs to be integrated in a context that closely aligns both departments.

To achieve that, it helps to identify areas that provide a focus for successful collaboration; practical measures; and new roles that support a unified vision of both departments.

Here’s how.

A unified approach to sales and marketing: ABS

There’s a name for this united sales and marketing strategy: account-based selling.

Account-based selling/marketing (ABS/ABM) has been around for a while, but has just recently started to make a splash. Gartner predicts that ABS will become the standard selling framework for tech companies with over $5M in revenue.

ABS believes that not all leads are created equal. Following a quality-over-quantity mindset, accounts are evaluated in terms of their potential for success; sales and marketing come together to target the highest value accounts with a seamless, super-personalized experience.

This collaborative approach marks a new era in which sales and marketing are unified, the sales process streamlined. And it works.

97% of marketers say ABM offers higher ROI than alternative marketing activities. Salesforce reports Google searches for ABM topped a 10-year record in late 2015, and since that time, search volume has doubled.

ABM increases conversions, shortens sales cycles, drives retention and encourages a more holistic view of the customer.

What’s not to like?

Areas in which sales and marketing can collaborate productively

Data and analysis

Too often, sales and marketing rely on mismatched or incomplete data sets. When both departments assess results separately, it reinforces the idea that they should be kept apart.

The alternative? A single source of truth that both departments can access and contribute to. This will keep matters coherent across the board, and encourage teams to conduct post-sales analysis together.

At the end of the day, it’s the combined efforts of both groups that create conversions, so it makes sense to streamline analytics and follow the leads journey from prospect to customer together.

Content creation

A recent CSO Insights study showed that 32% of a sales rep’s time was spent creating, or looking for, sales content.

It’s hard to access the type of content necessary to make a compelling sale, and creating the necessary material eats into the time salespeople should be devoting to other tasks.

And that’s where marketing can step in for support and collaboration.

Growth Marketer Sujan Patel listens in on sales calls and looks for friction points or objections. He then creates content using those insights that his sales team can use in their outreach.

If both teams can work to understand their audience better, they will be in a better position to create targeted, dynamic content that focuses on the winning strategies of each department.

Developing buyer personas

Sales and marketing serve different purposes when it comes to buyer personas.

Sales know a) who’s buying and b) why those customers are buying in the first place.

Marketing understands the industry at large, the external factors how people buy, who they should be targeting — and what motivates these people to choose one brand over another.

So, the best buyer personas are built from a mixture of marketing and sales research paired with real-life insights from your customer base.

Rather than one department being more accurate than the other and proving that point, the better approach is to compare notes to come up with a unified vision for a buyer persona that ticks all the boxes.


The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of your marketing and sales teams shouldn’t exist on separate islands. Brainstorming crossover KPIs that are significant to both departments will increase ROI across the board.

Not all KPIs need to remain the domain of a single team. Sales and marketing can collaborate to create crossover performance indicators that are important to both realms.

Lead generation, conversion rates, cost per lead and social media engagement matter to everyone.

Emerging collaborative roles

Time to polish that résumé, marketers and salespeople. Emerging technologies are making waves in today’s job market, and roles that were considered experimental a few years ago are now indispensable.

So, it’s time to adjust the expectations and job description for marketers and salespeople to acknowledge the critical role technology plays. Here are some of the most notable emerging roles in sales and marketing.

Chief Marketing Technologist

The CMT is at the center of digital transformation. The role recognizes that IT and marketing need to work together as seamlessly as possible, rather than as two separate functions. Gartner predicts that next year chief marketing officers will be spending more on technology than chief information officers.

With technology now a vital tool to help businesses achieve their strategic objectives, the person in charge of this needs to be carefully positioned within the organization.

Their role may encompass driving digital transformation as well as creating and executing a technology vision for the entire organization.

Machine Learning Engineer

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) drives the need for professionals who are able to utilize machine learning to help brands optimize personalized content and better target their core audience.

Technical marketers who can keep up with such complex technology are being sought out by businesses more and more.

According to LinkedIn data, the jobs for machine learning engineers are growing at faster than any other job category, with over 13,000 jobs currently listed.

The MLE creates algorithms and accesses data pipelines to deliver high impact, personalized recommendations at scale.

Chief Experience Officer

The demand for CXOs is proliferating. According to IDC, 40% of Chief Digital Officers will report to CXOs by 2020.

A chief experience officer (CXO) is an executive who ensures positive interactions with an organization’s external customers. The job title “chief experience officer” is increasingly replacing that of Chief Customer Officer and Chief Activity Officer.

The CXO ensures the whole customer experience — from initial engagement to end of sale — is seamless.

Bot Developer

Brands are utilizing messaging platforms and chatbots to enhance their engagement with consumers. Bots have transformed the way brands tell a story, engage with audiences, and facilitate support.

They provide personalized and private conversations between brands and customers, and offer a goldmine of customer data that can be used to enhance the user experience even more.

The most sophisticated bots are powered by AI but need extensive human support to reach their full potential.

Voice Skills Developer

Voice search and AI are developments brands need to optimize their efforts in search marketing and SEO.

Technologies like Amazon’s voice service Alexa and Google Assistant give way to the impact voice recognition has on consumers and brand. So, marketers can be early adopters of this trend have the chance to be masters later on.

Digital Brand Manager

According to research, total media ad spending will top $205.06 billion this year, with 40.5% of outlays going to digital channels.

And by 2021 that number is predicted to rise to 51.3 percent.

A digital brand manager sets and implements the digital vision and strategy for company brands across all digital channels.

They are tasked with driving growth and awareness across a company’s product lines by converting traditional, physical brand management, awareness and marketing to digital consumer and customer experiences

This includes overseeing digital platform development, content creation, storytelling, social media, personalization and more.

Digital Strategist

Next-generation technologies like IoT, chatbots, AI are infiltrating marketing fast, and brands can’t afford to ignore their impact. There are over 10,000 jobs listed for this category on websites.

According to Gartner, total spending on IoT endpoints and services will reach $2 trillion this year. A digital strategist will leverage data from IoT devices and create wins from interactions between humans and machines.

Breaking down barriers

Even the most friendly, closely-aligned departments need to see each other now and again. Regular, face to face meetings will help teams develop their internal relationships and better understand each team’s processes.

Hold regular meetings to discuss new strategies, go over the results of current campaigns, and gain insights and feedback on the sales/marketing agenda.

Aligning sales and marketing will likely require an overhaul in terminology and a fresh perspective. Tools are helpful, but throwing technology at a problem without a coherent gameplan won’t solve it.

By working together on these types of tasks, marketing and sales can develop new synergies that save time and money.

Plus, a higher level of insight is formed by the ability to share information on trends, behaviors, and results.

Rather than conflict, the greater collaborative environment yields more leads and conversions. It’s a win-win for the departments and an even greater win for the company.

The Startup

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Justin Lee

Written by

Growth & Acquisition @HubSpot. In perpetual software update mode.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +489K people. Follow to join our community.

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