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I’ll be the first one to admit it. After taking a role in marketing after years in sales, I was a fish out of water. It was an entirely new world, but I was fascinated by the other side of the house and eager to put my customer experience to work in new, different ways.

I quickly learned that a good marketer is the same as a good salesperson: You put the customer first. And you’re really not that different from each other if you both keep that focus in mind. Here are a few key things I’ve discovered in my career in marketing — and how my sales background prepped me for it.

Experiencing the Aha Moment

It was early on after my switch to marketing that something clicked. After spending 10 years working with customers to understand their problems and find solutions to them, I realized that this experience was my own unique value to the team. The insights from countless customer meetings and briefings could help guide the content of what people wanted to actually learn about. I knew what information resonated with customers from that firsthand experience. And having used all of the applications and products myself, I had other direct insights into what they might really care about (or not).

Marketing development should always be based on listening to customers first and foremost and enabling the sales organization to articulate the value. That might mean having a marketing rep actually listen in on the 1-800 calls or finding other ways to engage with sales teams directly to get their feedback and glean those insights. Whether you’re in sales or marketing, it’s all about knowing your audience — and then delivering the goods.

Learning to Take a Walk in Each Other’s Shoes

Too often there are assumptions made about sales and marketing from their own sides. A sales rep might wonder, “Why is it taking so long for the latest version of the deck that I need? What the heck are they doing over there?” But when I moved over to marketing, I saw firsthand the amount of time and effort it does take to produce that demo video, presentation deck, website, or event. It’s a ton of work; sales just doesn’t know it.

On the flip side, marketing might see SPIFFs, cash bonuses, or that trip to Hawaii for the top sales reps and may get a skewed vision of how good the reps have it. They don’t see the daily (even hourly) stress of the sales team; these perks can help keep motivation up, especially when top performance is crucial. There’s also the fact that hundreds of other sales reps didn’t get that vacation or check either, but they still have to keep after their goals.

The net-net is this: We are all in this together and need to empathize, understand the strengths and challenges on each side, and appreciate the investment we all put in whether it’s to close a deal or produce an amazing marketing asset.

Marketing development should always be based on listening to customers first and foremost and enabling the sales organization to articulate the value.”

Lynne Zaledonis | SVP, Product Marketing, Sales Cloud, Salesforce

Learn More

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