On episode 13 of The Insiders podcast, hosts Simon Hazeldine and Richard Lane spoke with Emma Roffey, VP of Marketing EMEAR and Global Advocacy at Cisco. Emma examined the nuances between sales and marketing, and the key component that binds them together 

Emma has been with Cisco for 18 years, where she has accumulated a wealth of experience. After starting her career in sales, she slowly gravitated toward marketing and found this transition to be very natural. Having experience in both functions, Emma has identified notable differences between them, but also ways in which the two functions really don’t differ that much at all.  

Sales need to have patience with marketing

Emma has noticed that the divide between sales and marketing often lies in measuring success:  

It’s very hard to quantify the impact of marketing in a way that sales can relate to. What they want is a coin-operated machine… Marketing doesn’t necessarily work like that.” 

Effective marketing and demand generation takes time. Marketing has to actually create demand in order to generate inbound opportunities, and this can take up to 2 times a company’s average sales cycle. In comparison, sales metrics tend to be very clear-cut: SDRs are set targets and their performance is typically measured by the number of leads generated (SQLs), as well as by dialling rate, connection rate, etc. When it comes to marketing campaigns, it can take months to see the results of those efforts, so patience and understanding are essential: 

“There has to be patience for marketing because when I’m presenting, it’s not all about the numbers that sales are used to. There’s an education, as well as a demonstration of what marketing is doing and the impact.  

“You can only do that if there is a good relationship between sales and marketing and the opportunity to align. You need to do regular QBRs or reviews, and have to have that understanding and patience at every level of the sales organization and every level of the marketing organization.” 

It’s important to note that patience is also essential when dealing with customers. According to Emma, businesses need to have a customer-first philosophy in order to drive growth and be successful. Having a customer-first philosophy means that you will work to their timeline and that things will happen when it is right for your customer, not the quarter. 

Responsiveness is crucial

Emma states that the synergy between sales and marketing is in their approach with the customer:  

“Whether you’re in sales or marketing, you have to put the customer first.” 

People often view sales and marketing as separate entities, when in reality, they should be taking a leaf out of one another’s book: 

One thing that has helped me in marketing, that you had to be very good at in sales, is responsiveness. If a customer was upset or needed you, then I was very fast to react, dampen out fires, motivate them etc.  

“I’ve really taken that into marketing as well: the speed of execution, the speed of understanding the customer, the speed of the customer journey, but getting the right message, at the right time, to the right person.” 

Speed is key for both functions, but when it comes to MQLs, this is especially true for marketing. If an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) isn’t flagged as soon as it comes in, or sales fail to pick it up, you’ve lost a customer.  

If SDRs wait days or even hours to follow up with a prospective customer, the customer may have already engaged another business for help, or simply forgotten your content because it is no longer at the forefront of their mind.  

According to Hubspot, seventy percent of buyers will make a purchase with the first business that gets back to them. By being quick to respond to your customer’s needs, you are showing them that you are dedicated to supporting them at every step of their sales journey. 

Get inside one another’s world

Emma offers a solution to aligning sales and marketing: sales need to have a solid understanding of what marketing does, and vice versa. This culture of collaborating and getting inside of one another’s world starts at the top of an organisation: 

“I sit in all the sales meetings and forecast calls so that I’m heavily involved and understand the dynamics within the sales department. We have various sales leaders that I partner with – they’re my peers; I understand their issues, they understand mine, and then we can agree on plans together. You need that at leadership level.” 

The nuances that exist between sales and marketing need to be respected, as both functions offer value. Misalignment occurs when sales and marketing get consumed by their tasks and don’t communicate with one another. Emma argues that there needs to be more peer-to-peer engagement and that it can be very beneficial for marketers to go out on sales calls, and for sales to get more involved with marketing in return: 

Get out there – allocate some time, and say: ‘I’m going to attend four or five customer meetings this week, or join my sales colleagues, or do some networking’, because it is never, ever wasted.” 

Practising patience, having a customer-first philosophy and truly prioritising collaboration to align sales and marketing are all major components to driving business growth, increasing revenue and delivering a better buyer experience. 

Listen to The Insiders podcast for more insights into the world of business-to-business sales and marketing. 


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