How to integrate sales and marketing

Sales and Marketing

The uneasy bedfellows of sales and marketing and how to measure the business value of marketing 

Marketing is an established function in any organisation, but how do you truly measure its value in business-to-business sectors?  The goal is surely a clear link to the commercial bottom line, but often this falls short – why?   

The answer is usually the relationship with sales.   

Much has been said and written on this subject as these two core divisions are frequently seen as uneasy bedfellows.  Part lack of common understanding, part lack of common goals, and wholly out of sync.   

The reality is that in many organisations marketing and sales are competing forces.  While both are keen to secure commercial interest and sales, too often this is done in splendid isolation from each other.  This can lead to tension when the monthly numbers roll in or when annual budgets are agreed. 

But it does not need to be this way.    

It is also worth considering at this point how marketing is viewed within an organisation in terms of its role, remit, and purpose.  This is a major factor in calculating its commercial value.  

If there is a service-oriented perception of the function then success is measured via tactical outputs – new brochures, media articles, website posts, advertising executions, exhibition stands, email newsletters and social media impressions.  In these circumstances, any integration with sales will be limited and commercial value of marketing restricted. 

If marketing is a board-level or senior management function with a strategic responsibility in the business, the relationship with sales likely will be more balanced with a shared focus on commercial outcomes. 

And this is where the mutual benefit is – to measure the business value of b2b marketing requires an integrated approach with sales.   


Marketing, as with sales, will be a process of outputs towards a desired outcome.  Where the two intersect will be determined by common understanding and common goals.  Take the established AIDA (Awareness > Interest > Desire > Action) model – a marketing staple for over 100 years and the foundation of the sales funnel.     

In each case, the goal is to move prospects from early awareness through interest and desire, to a commercial action.  In marketing, this action would be to provide sales with red hot leads.  However, the handover of leads from marketing to sales often lacks punch.  This is usually when prospects are passed across too early in the process.  They may have shown interest in a company or product, but is this sufficient for sales to chase up?  Half-baked rather than red hot.   

A more commercially effective approach is simply to think ‘what happens next?’ What happens when marketing pass leads to sales?  Is it booking a sales appointment, providing quotations, preparing pitches?   

For example, if providing a project quotation is the best first sales step, a prospect who has simply opened an email and visited your site would not be red hot.  But if a prospect has engaged on social, registered on your site and spent time downloading product information and preparing a project mood board – this demonstrates far greater buying signals. 

For every business and every sales team there will be an equivalent commercial action. This process will be different for every business, but all follow common principles.  Identifying that golden ticket of buying intent should be the first discussion.  Once agreed, marketing can then formulate the plan to get prospects to this goal. 

Ultimately, the warmer the lead the better.  While there are many sales operations out there who do well from cold calling, they will operate considerably more effectively if the prospect is expecting to hear from them or is clearly showing a buying intent.  

And this takes us back to effective measurement of marketing activity.  The ultimate goal is set, so the next challenge is how to get there – and how you can evaluate this at each stage.  After all, red hot leads will not nurture themselves. 
Sales and Marketing Infographic

A coordinated marketing campaign has plenty of options in its comms toolkit and each of these is best at certain parts of the AIDA process.  Generating awareness is arguably the most challenging, but a combination of advertising, SEOemail, social promotion, and PR targeted at the right audiences, with the right messages at the right time will see return.  Common awareness metrics centre on the size of the potential audience – reach, readership, and impressions.  

Once aware, getting interest is next.  The response to the awareness activity can show the growing interest – email open rates, social likes and shares, SEO clicks.  At this point, your website steps up and plays its part.  Analysing website traffic and behaviour of visitors will not identify individual prospects – that comes later – but is a valuable guide to campaign performance.   

Turning this into desire requires the right content with case studies and product literature good examples.  Metrics here include prospect data capture, site registrations, tracking download numbers and website return visitors, as well as the greater engagement on social through direct messages and user generated content.   

Quick tip – data capture of prospects is a thorny issue, especially if required to download website material.  On the positive, you get prospect email and data.  On the negative, you may have turned off many more prospects if they do see enough value to submit their personal details.  As a rule, leave as much ungated as possible – definitely case studies and literature – the nurture is more important than asking for details at the wrong stage.    

The killer actions are key.  But when integrated with sales, this can be determined with greater certainty to provide leads that are hot enough to bring return. This will also improve the length of sales cycles and costs of acquisition.   

Rather than be corporate ‘frenemies’, sales and marketing working together will see business value returns for both.    

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