Aligning sales & marketing in the B2B world


Marketing brings the customer to the product; sales takes the product to the customer 

By: Chad Ritterbusch, owner and president of TRG Marketing

 For small businesses looking to grow, the proper alignment of sales and marketing is critical to future success. Failing to correctly answer questions like “who does what, who reports to whom, and what are our objectives” are missteps that can keep an organization from maximizing its potential.

Some business owners and managers will merge the responsibilities of the sales and marketing functions, but this can blur the fundamental roles each plays in the customer buying process. Or worse yet, some companies may even have one division report directly to the other.

What can result from misaligned sales and marketing divisions is a lack of team cohesion, the potential for confusion, or in some extreme cases even conflict.

Sales and marketing reinforce one another when positioned correctly. A now-retired, former colleague of mine was famous around the office for breaking down the role of marketing and sales into a simple core philosophy:

Marketing brings the customer to the product; sales takes the product to the customer.  

It all seems so intuitive, doesn’t it?

Marketing tells the customer a story. It identifies your targets. And when operating effectively, it harmoniously weaves together words and visuals in such a way as to convey the ideal representation of your company/product – one that sparks some level of customer interest.

Sales, on the other hand, gets specific. After the spark is ignited, they stoke the flame with facts, figures and analysis. They help the customer understand why your particular product or service fits their specific need – and does so better than your competition.

But what business objectives best align with each group?

For simplicity sake, let’s focus on the most foundational objective for many organizations: Increase sales.

Aside of buying out your competition, there are essentially only two concrete methods of increasing sales within an organization:

  1. Grow revenue from existing customers
  2. Get new customers

Growing existing customer revenue should be an important focal point for the sales department. Too many times, businesses turn the bulk of sales attention towards “new leads.” Yes, marketing can/will provide support, but sales plays a pivotal role in unearthing new revenue streams from existing customers. The sales staff should know your customer base inside and out – and specifically what their pain points are, and how using more of your products will address them.

Because marketing efforts can cast a wider net than sales, it’s marketing that is primarily focused on reaching new audiences. Their role is to engage with new audiences and create an informed awareness of your company/product.

Comparatively speaking, both marketing and sales play critical roles in the customer buying process. But, as can be seen from the accompanying chart, when and where depends on where the customer sits along the buying continuum.

Once that is understood, and working within the confines of established objectives, the sales force and the marketing team can work independently and/or as a tandem on the activities for which they are best suited.

As long as the lines of communication are kept open, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and there is a commitment to accountability, that next sale might truly be just around the corner.


Chad Ritterbusch is owner and president of TRG Marketing. Formerly known as The Ritterbusch Group, the 10-person marketing firm is based in Brookfield and helps growing organizations determine a marketing strategy and then implement through advertising, public relations, direct marketing and internet communications.

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