Can Sales Finish Marketing’s Sentence?


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I'll bet that most of you have a best friend, spouse or assistant who can finish your sentences, or whose sentences you can finish. This happens most often through familiarity bred from shared understanding and perspectives. Given this, I'm also going to bet that the answer to the title question is most often a resounding No.

B2B companies need to get that answer to be an emphatic YES!

Here's why:

Buyers are pushing sales conversations to the late stages of the purchasing process. On average, it's likely that marketing spends a longer period of time with your leads than sales does. (If you're not requesting sales pursuit until they are sales ready, that is.) 

If marketing has a content strategy that's enabled them to tell a consistent problem-to-solution story over time and then a sales rep shows up with an unexpected agenda – the lead has to re-start, instead of simply taking the next step in the path they've been following.

If marketing has consistently shared valuable insights, ideas and information that your prospects have come to rely on and then the salesperson shows up to take an order without adding the normal dose of value, there's a disconnect. Your prospect starts to wonder if they were mistaken in their evaluation of what your company will be like as a partner they can rely upon.

McKinsey & Company conducted a study of 1,200 IT purchasing decision makers across the US and Western Europe and found that 55% of them said salespeople were derailing themselves with two factors:

  1. 35% said salespeople contacted them too much (email, phone, in person)
  2. 20% said salespeople lacked knowledge about their products or those of their competitors.

The first one indicates to me that those contact attempts were more about the salesperson than the prospect. They were likely void of recognizable value for the prospect or trying to push them faster than they were ready to move. Otherwise the perception would be different.

The second one should be corrected, quickly. It did surprise me that, additionally, only 9% said that salespeople lacked business or industry knowledge about the usefulness of their product to the prospect's business. Forrester's research a year or so ago showed response to that situation about 3X higher.

The gist of it is that sales needs to competently finish what marketing starts. In order for that to work well, the two departments should collaborate in order to coordinate the story based on prospects and their specific situations. This way marketing can work toward building to a sales conversation that is a natural extension and seamless transition from the prospect's perspective.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


  1. This advice is taken straight out of practice. There is a technical dimension to this coordination as well. Namely, besides working out buyer segments vs. value prop, Marketing is also being asked to help Sales by classifying prospects into the various segments.

    After all, the reality of mass marketing on the Internet today is that you can have hundreds or even thousands of contacts pouring in when you do for example a webinar. So Sales needs to be very efficient at applying Ardath’s advice.

    Of course, during the live conversation Sales may find out that the original classification wasn’t correct and that the prospect should be reclassified. That is Okay.

    Reading this I became curious how these buyer segments might relate to the buyer personas that Tony Zambito writes about on this site. Let me forward to him and hopefully he will tell us.



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