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B2B Marketers Shouldn’t Support the Sales Team?

I’ll admit that in my younger years I was somewhat less…shall we say…diplomatic…about expressing my views on the proper role of marketing in business.

When someone would suggest that B2B marketing was simply about “supporting” the sales department, the vein on the side of my head would begin to throb, my jaw would tighten, my teeth would clench, and I would growl something snarky like, “To do that, wouldn’t we have to assume that the sales department actually knows what they’re doing?”

In my defense, the generally-accepted notion of sales support at the time was all about taking marching orders from sales. At the time, a lot of marketing people were really just sales admins with different titles. And having experienced for myself how real strategic marketing could drive exponential growth, there was no way my marketing people were ever going to sit back, wait to be told about the latest desperate schemes to “save the quarter”, and just execute them without question.

Today, however, I have a slightly different perspective…

Now don’t get me wrong…I still believe that the sales function is about “the tactical execution of a marketing strategy.” And I still believe that marketing should be involved in plotting the course and steering the ship…and not just toiling away at the oars.

But these days, I’ve come to rely on a different definition of “sales support” to temper my…well…temper.

B2B marketers shouldn’t support sales in the sense of taking orders, doing the grunt work that others don’t want to do, or just blindly executing whatever tactics someone in the field might come up with. Instead, I believe B2B marketers should think of sales support as enabling the sales team to achieve their full potential.

It’s not about waiting around to receive marching orders…it’s about being proactive, recognizing what needs to happen, and leading the way.

It’s not about giving salespeople what they say they want…it’s about figuring what they really need in order to be most effective and successful.

And moreover, it’s not about breathlessly executing desperate tactics to “save the quarter”…it’s about thoughtfully and methodically creating the strategic conditions under which no quarter ever needs saving again.

To my mind, this is “support” of the highest order. And while your salespeople may not be asking for this type of support, they desperately need it…and they tend to appreciate it when they get it.

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