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What Comes First - The Marketing or Sales Plan

by Doug Davidoff | Jan 14, 2011 5:43:00 AM

chicken-or-eggOver the last two weeks, we’ve been inundated by requests from CEOs and sales executives who want to talk about developing new strategies for growth.  It’s got me very excited about the prospects for 2011 – not just for Imagine, but for business growth all around.

I am seeing an alarming trend, however.  One of the most common questions that I’m getting is: “Which should we do first –figure out our marketing approach or develop our sales approach?”

The answer is simple:  Both must be done in an integrated, holistic and parallel manner.

The reason for this is simple:  the purpose of marketing is to create sales.  That is not a statement to diminish either sales or marketing.  As a matter of fact, one of the worst beliefs small and mid-market executives (SME) have is that sales and marketing are separate focuses.  Frankly, it’s why marketing is under-invested in 90%+ SME B2B companies.

This is why we never refer to it as a marketing plan or sales plan – it’s a go-to-market plan.  We understand that marketing affects what you can and should do in your sales approach and your sales approach affects what you can and should do in your marketing.

If you figure what part of one approach out before the other, you are going to make assumptions that simply won’t hold up.  The result of that will be another marketing or sales plan that sits on someone’s shelf collecting dust.

There is a simple reason that SME’s have always done one or the other first.  It’s because there are a lot of marketing consultants or agencies that like to do marketing plans – and have limited sales knowledge; and lots of sales consultants who like to do sales training – and have little marketing knowledge.

If you want to get ahead of 2011 and drive the results your business is capable of producing, don’t make the classic silo-mistake.  Make sure you’re addressing your go-to-market issues holistically.