Without an effective sales and marketing strategy, a business may fail. In the United States, 18 percent of private sector businesses fail in their first year, according to LendingTree. After five years, the percentage of failed businesses rises to nearly 50 percent.
What are the signs of a failing business? A key sign is plummeting sales. Another sign of looming failure is a lack of interest―if people are not talking about a business, a lackluster marketing strategy may be to blame.
For businesses that want to avoid becoming a statistic, a strong sales and marketing strategy can help establish a game plan for achieving growth. Traditionally, sales and marketing have worked as separate entities, with each function delivering unique value. But synergy between the two can help maximize business success.
In an increasingly globalized marketplace, individuals who want to help organizations drive business growth can benefit from earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Employers seek to hire candidates from MBA programs that go beyond teaching management skills. They look for professionals who graduate with leadership skills and high-level knowledge about how to craft effective business strategies.
To understand what a sales and marketing strategy is, it’s important to look at each strategic component individually.
What Is a Sales Strategy?
The primary goal of a sales strategy is straightforward: to sell a business’s products or services. The sales process requires building and managing relationships with prospects and providing guidance on buying decisions. This may mean sales teams need to:
- Call customers to present new offers one minute and participate in pitches and demonstrations the next.
- Identify a prospect’s pain points in order to match their needs with the right solution, product, or offer.
- Know when a prospect is ready to move from a lead to a qualified sales prospect; pushing for a sale too early can result in the loss of the prospect and a missed sales opportunity.
Every customer and organization is different, so one company’s sales strategy may differ from another’s. Steps in the process of creating a sales strategy include:
- Setting clear objectives regarding sales processes and outcomes.
- Aligning sales objectives with organizational goals and customer profiles with specific offerings.
- Hiring and properly compensating sales teams; since sales team members typically earn a base salary and commission, performance incentives are critical for getting the best talent.
- Implementing systems that effectively track sales activities throughout the entire life cycle and measure sales performance.
What Is a Marketing Strategy?
An effective marketing strategy helps an organization create value for its prospective customers. This requires knowing what types of individuals may be interested in the company’s offerings, studying consumer behavior, and learning the psychology of why customers buy the company’s products or services.
From content marketing and social media to public relations and advertising, marketers have many tactics to attract prospects. When developing a marketing strategy, organizations can risk doing too much. A marketing strategy provides a structure for and guidance on executing marketing tasks.
Steps in developing an effective marketing strategy include:
- Conducting market research.
- Analyzing consumer behavior.
- Determining which markets to target.
- Performing competitor analysis.
- Developing a brand to distinguish the company from competitors.
- Establishing competitive pricing.
- Creating promotions across various media.
What Is a Sales and Marketing Strategy?
A sales and marketing strategy enables teams to follow a structured approach. First, the marketing department identifies a prospect, gets their attention, and keeps them engaged. When the prospect is ready to make a buying decision, the prospect is seamlessly handed over to sales, whose primary job is to convert the prospect into a customer and then forge a relationship that can lead to further sales opportunities.
A sales and marketing strategy combines elements of both sales and marketing. An effective marketing strategy raises awareness of a business and attracts prospective customers, while a sound sales strategy converts prospects into customers. But when sales and marketing teams can come together to create a holistic strategy, they can eliminate silos and maximize the value each department brings to the process.
For example, consider a clothes retailer seeking to achieve 15 percent growth for a specific line of athletic wear. While a standard sales approach might include input from marketing on how to achieve this aim, an integrated sales and marketing strategy puts each group on equal footing, placing the responsibility for achieving the growth target on both teams. Through an integrated approach, the two teams collaborate on developing mutually agreed upon strategies, so neither the success nor failure of a campaign falls solely on one group.
The primary aim of the strategy is to document processes to help guide sales and marketing teams in their decisions, with key business goals in mind. When developing a sales and marketing strategy, it’s also important to note that a one-size-fits-all approach does not exist—each strategy must be uniquely tailored to the organization and to the campaign.
Why Is It Important for a Business to Have a Sales and Marketing Strategy?
A sales and marketing strategy documents what should take place throughout the entire marketing and sales life cycle. It also clearly distinguishes different roles, while ensuring that individuals in each team work in unison to achieve business objectives, which helps optimize the process of attracting and winning over new customers.
An effective sales and marketing strategy also eliminates silos. Sales and marketing teams that work independently from each other often can find themselves out of sync. Miscommunication may creep in, risking the loss of a prospect or customer. A unified strategy can improve collaboration, cohesion, and synergy between these units, ultimately resulting in greater success for the business as a whole.
In an integrated sales and marketing environment, sales can clearly communicate the kinds of marketing content and collateral they need to help close sales opportunities. On the other end, marketing can acquire vital information about what drives buyers from the sales team, which can help them refine their marketing tactics.
Who Is Qualified to Create a Sales and Marketing Strategy, and How Is It Done?
Both sales and marketing professionals must participate in the process of crafting a sales and marketing strategy. For a strategy to be executed successfully, the departments have to establish how they will communicate with each other. Key questions should be asked throughout the process, such as:
- Which tools and systems can facilitate clear communication?
- Which metrics do both teams consider important to measure?
- How will the teams work together, specifically?
- What is the budget?
- What are the primary goals?
- What are the expectations of each team?
- Which team is accountable for each aspect of the process?
- Who are the universe of buyers to be targeted?
- When is the best time to engage prospects and customers, and how?
Working together, each team can come up with answers to these questions. Agreeing on mutual accountability and responsibilities at the outset is critical to ensuring buy-in on the strategy. Regular meetings are also important to address issues and make adjustments that can ultimately improve the process of identifying prospects and converting them into customers.
Discover Opportunities to Advance Your Business Career
A sales and marketing strategy can bring immense value to a business by helping ensure seamless handoffs of prospects from the marketing team to the sales team and providing the necessary resources to help the sales team close on opportunities.
Individuals looking to play a pivotal role in driving business success can enroll in an MBA program to develop the skills needed to create effective sales and marketing strategies. Washington State University’s Online Master of Business Administration program offers students the opportunity to advance their knowledge of finance, marketing, and leadership, among other business concepts. And with its marketing concentration, the program can help refine students’ marketing expertise.
Learn how you can advance your business career with an MBA.
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Executive MBA vs. MBA: What’s the Difference?
Post-MBA Certifications and Courses
Aha!, “Marketing Strategy vs. Sales Strategy”
Evenbound, “What’s the Difference Between Sales and Marketing Strategies?”
Forbes, “What Does It Really Take to Align Sales and Marketing?”
Hinge, “Sales and Marketing Strategy for Professional Services: What Every Firm Needs to Know”
HubSpot, “17 Best Sales Strategies, Plans, and Initiatives for Success”
Investopedia, Marketing Strategy
LendingTree, “The Percentage of Businesses That Fail and How to Boost Your Chances of Success”
Smart Insights, “Your Integrated Sales and Marketing Strategy—the How and the Why”