dated pocket watch hanging with a sidewalk blurred in the backgroundMarketing and sales departments have always had an interesting relationship. Historically, marketing has primarily focused on increasing brand awareness and creating demand for specific products and services. Sales was focused on leading potential customers through the rest of the process: measuring intent to buy, evaluating specific solutions and competitors, and finally making a purchase.

But, things have shifted dramatically in the past decade.

The Evolving Roles of Sales and Marketing

The specific roles that marketing and sales play in the buying process aren’t as clear as they once were. Today, 70% of B2B buyers have fully defined their needs before engaging with a sales representative. This means that marketers must play a more prominent role in convincing prospective customers during the intent and evaluation process.

At the same time, the role of sales is migrating from “selling” customers to a position of helping potential customers by recommending the most appropriate solutions for them. It’s less about “my product is better than the competitors” and more about helping the customer understand the wider causes and implications of the problem. It’s about becoming a trusted peer to potential customers, representing a business the customer considers credible and reputable.

What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Now that the lines between sales and marketing are more fluid than ever before, how do both teams work together to grow your business? Here are a few tips:

1. Make sure you’re answering prospective customers’ questions through your marketing.

Because today’s customers do most of the product research and evaluation on their own, it’s important that your marketing answers the questions they have. Whether it’s through your website, email marketing, or advertising campaigns, your marketing team should focus on helping potential customers answer some common questions: What makes your brand different than competitors? Why should they trust you? Why should they buy from you now?

2. Encourage marketing and sales to evaluate your buyer’s journey together.

If your marketing and sales team haven’t taken the time to sit down and evaluate the journey potential buyers take during the sales process, they should. This helps you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current efforts. It also gets both teams on the same page when it comes to creating an experience potential customers will actually enjoy.

3. Develop processes to make sure sales and marketing are in alignment.

Aligning your marketing and sales teams takes work, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need to be intentional about making it happen. By developing processes that help each team stay informed about what the other is doing, you’ll be able to ensure there’s a synergy that’s created from both teams working together in the same direction.

4. Equip your sales team with information about prospects.

Even though much of the buying process is out of the sales team’s hands, business development professionals can be equipped with information that makes them much more effective at converting potential customers. Equipping sales teams with marketing information—such as a prospect’s website activity, download history, and engagement rate—provides a whole new level of data about the potential customers to whom they are selling.

As the business world continues to evolve, the roles of marketing and sales will continue to change. In order to consistently work smarter, we must embrace the ideas and new opportunities, rather than getting stuck in our “tried and true” roles and responsibilities.