The Sales Team alone cannot and will not get you to scale. And to be quite frank, it’s unfair to expect them to. They might get you to a nice size business. They might even help you to profitability – but if you’re looking to be a behemoth in your industry, they will not get you there alone. For that, you need Marketing and Sales to work together. You also need an absolutely fantastic product, but that should go without saying.
Marketing is the oil tanker that drills the fuel that Sales runs on (I watched The Grand Tour tonight, so excuse my car references). And Sales is not a Tesla. If there is no petrol, you’re not moving.
I’m writing this post after a discussion with my good friend Annika Ljas, because well, it’s an issue, and we haven’t seen anything written about it.
Let’s say you have that amazing product. And you have a great sales team who is kicking ass and taking names. Why do you need marketing? You’re making money.
If you don’t want to grow to scale, you may not need marketing. You’ll grow to the size you grow and that will be what it is and there you go. Or you could be Atlassian and have zero sales people and grow to be incredibly massive, but that’s off topic (they do have marketers BTW). But, I digress.
What happens when you don’t invest in marketing is the accumulation of Marketing Debt. If you don’t know what that is, click on that link because I wrote an entire post about it.
Ignoring marketing debt is dangerous. First, your top salespeople don’t perform as well as they used to. They’ve mined their contact list, and have probably reached out to everyone they could think of that could be interested in your product. Maybe they have hunted all of the big game worthy of them to hunt. Maybe they are missing the right materials. Maybe the leads aren’t dropping on their lap the way they did in the beginning.
But you’re still growing, so you hire more salespeople. Only most of them don’t make their goals. And some of the original team doesn’t make their goals either. If this continues for too long, your best salespeople will leave. Talented people have options, and they use those options when they are unhappy. In other words, your top people leave. And sales start to plateau. They might even drop. Why does this happen? Is it the goals? Or is it the lack of leads?
Where are the leads coming from?
If you only have one form of lead engagement (and it’s not inbound that accumulates over time and only becomes more powerful – and typically it’s not inbound because that takes time to start seeing results and companies that have sales teams running at full throttle and don’t invest in marketing don’t have that kind of patience) then you need to keep doing whatever you’re doing to build up those leads. Yes I realize that’s a seriously long run-on sentence and a double negative. I’m being creative.
You need to build your funnel. Marketing does that. Marketing isn’t just your message (which needs to be on point) or your look and feel (which should be glorious) it’s also building awareness for your top of the funnel lead generation. It’s also lead nurturing. It’s holding the hand of your prospect till they are ready to buy. Then sales takes over (or not, in the case of Atlassian).
If you don’t invest in marketing – how are people going to know you exist? Sales cold calling isn’t enough to get to the big numbers for the long term.
Fortunately, there’s an answer. It’s called Marketing. Some people call it Lead Generation, others call it Growth Hacking or Growth Marketing. At the end of the day these are all just Marketing with new names.