Turning Sales vs. Marketing into Sales + Marketing


The Yankees vs. the Red Sox. Coke vs. Pepsi. Gates vs. Jobs.

By Rob Murphy, Chief Marketing Oficer, MC2


Great rivalries can be huge enough to impassion countries and powerful enough to launch fiery debates. The term “rivalry” implies high stakes, greatness in each party; two opposing forces each with a grudging respect.

But should sales and marketing be rivals – or teammates? Among the mandates a C-level officer must follow, increased revenue, patient adoption and retention and improved working environment can all be enhanced by a supportive and cooperative relationship between sales and marketing.

Trash-talking Rivals

According to a recent study, 87% of the terms that come out of the mouth of a sales or marketing employee about the other department are negative. Contrasting views lead to conflicting perceptions of what contributes to the overall success of the business.

Sales thinks marketing is lightweight and easy. Marketing says sales reps will say anything to get a deal. 75% of sales reps never or only occasionally use what they get from marketing. 30% of sales reps feel disconnected from the changing needs and expectations of their prospects and customers.

So when it comes to Sales vs. Marketing, are you a traditionalist that believes basic human nature remains the same, the rivalry continues, and only the tools have changed? Or are you a digital advocate who is certain that changes to the tools are so radical that the old sales and marketing relationship is gone forever?

Either way, everyone agrees that the most fundamental tools have changed, starting with one of sales and marketing’s most basic—The Sales Funnel. Although the sales funnel may not be completely dead, there’s no doubt the old “numbers game” approach to marketing (cramming as many leads into the funnel as possible in hopes that more deals will come out) is over.

Even though there has not been a consensus as to what the new sales funnel should look like, all the experts agree the sales process is now driven by buying patterns that have changed drastically.

The Corporate Executive Board survey of 1,900 B2B companies found that customers will contact a sales rep only after independently completing 60% of the purchasing decision process. Forrester warns it might actually be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before a buyer reaches out to a vendor.

Today physicians obviously have independent access to a lot of information without a sales person’s help. They research and often make decisions without assistance, which means inbound marketing is key.

The New Role of Marketing

According to Adobe’s Digital Road- block, 64% of marketers surveyed expected their role to change in the next year. And while 40% said they wanted to reinvent their role as a marketer, only 14% felt they knew how. It’s not just the pace of change that alters the roles of marketers: 73% cited the expanded number of channels and platforms needed to reach audiences as drivers requiring new skills to adopt and new things to learn.

Is it possible that even the Four Ps of marketing have changed? Brian Fetherstonhaugh of Ogilvy One has spoken and written about how marketing is no longer about Product, Place, Price and Promotion but about Experience, Everyplace, Exchange and Evangelism.

Experience: Discover and map out the full Customer Journey on your own brand.

Everyplace: Develop and master your knowledge of new media.

Exchange: Appreciate the value of things, not just the cost.

Evangelism: Inspire your customers and your employees. Find the emotion in your brand.

Turning Rivals into a Dynamic Duo

Aligning marketing with sales can significantly improve an organization’s revenue by streamlining the decision path. According to the CMO Council, 38% of CMOs say that aligning and integrating sales and marketing is a top priority this year. But, only 30% have a clear process or program to make this priority a reality.

• 53.4% of respondents said their company has no formal process for generating, clarifying and validating leads

• Business acquisition experts estimate that 80% of leads are typically lost or ignored

When marketing and sales teams are aligned to the same goals, the number of quality leads increases and ultimately revenue goes up. Marketing and sales teams need to speak the same language by creating a shared terminology.

Teams must also agree on handoff points by identifying the stages of a lead and the point at which a lead should be passed to sales. That agreement should include the creation of a closed loop process that allows sales to push leads back to marketing for ongoing educational programs, apps and other helpful services10 .

Create Same Side Selling

Overall, the answer is to recognize that marketing and sales bring different strengths to revenue growth, and to find ways to get the best out of each function with a coordinated and efficient process.

• Talk about everything you do from the customer’s perspective

• Nobody cares how many offices you have or people you employ. What they care about is whether or not you understand their situation and have the potential to help them

• Engage all your HCP-facing team members in building a list of the problems HCPs rely on you to solve. Build your sales content from that list

• Become masters at creating useful content

• Stop thinking that marketing and sales are different

Companies with a strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual growth in revenue. More to the point, those without alignment experienced a decrease11 .

The New Sales and Marketing Toolbox

As pharmaceutical companies undergo a strategic shift from a “selling to one” to “selling to a network”, they must redefine their sales force to provide more value to HCPs.

The tools and assumptions that sales have traditionally relied on – wining and dining physicians, gifting, and doctor visits, to name a few – are out (and in some cases, illegal).

Today, sales forces must now be able to illustrate the real value of the product for many demographics: the HCP, the payor, the patient and other involved parties.

Digital and interactive web-based tools: Websites, iPad apps and other digital tools, such as Base Case’s Pharma Reps Present, are making it easier to interact with doctors, communicating the real value a treatment brings to patient. Doctors can use the tools to ask questions about drugs, order free samples and find out which insurers cover certain treatments.

Interactive video experiences. A short video clip (e.g. YouTube, Vine, and Instagram’s new video component) is able to convey a message much more effectively than a static ad.

Custom content delivery. Move away from purely promotional messaging and focus on delivering new valuable content, connective advertising and messaging12 . For pharmaceutical brands, telling the story on how a product can help improve or enhance a patient’s life is essential in creating an emotional connection with patients and will help build brand recognition.

Rep-supported e-Sampling program: While more and more doctors are turning to online for sample requests, these orders can be flagged to the area sales rep who has 48 hours to personally deliver the order13 .

Targeted Direct Mail campaigns. Data driven and used in collaboration with new technology and digital outlets14 .

Lead generating & lead nurturing tools. Use lead generation and nurturing tools like those offered by Hubspot.

Blogging, Articles and Speaking Engagements. Creating educational content differentiates your company and articles will eventually turn up in a potential buyer’s Google search.

Influencers: Influencers keep you up to date on latest developments in their field of expertise. Engage with key influencers on social networks15 .

Tradeshows: A recent Exhibit Surveys Inc’s report determined that 82% of trade show attendees have the power to recommend, specify, and/or make final purchasing decisions. Perhaps more importantly, 49% come to trade shows with purchasing intent16 . Sales and marketing groups must be aligned to achieve the greatest results on the tradeshow floor. Given the fact that many practices and hospitals do not allow pharma reps to see physicians, or severely limit their exposure, trade shows have become more critical for face time with physicians. With physicians walking around the exhibit hall, tradeshows are a great opportunity for reps to see more physicians in a shorter time frame than they would with traditional sales calls. However, the biggest challenge pharma reps have is that they are in a different setting than usual and need to learn how to get physicians into the exhibit. As such, marketing has to create an exhibit that works as a true marketing tool. It’s worthwhile to prepare for these attendees.

Marketing can make a valuable contribution by developing a clearly defined strategy of how they are going to get physicians into the booth to see a rep, educate them and get them detailed. The more successful they are at accomplishing their objectives, the more influence the reps will have on prescribing behavior and positively impacting revenue. •



Rob Murphy is the chief marketing officer of MC2. He has been a vital member of the MC2 team since the company’s inception in 1999. Rob directs all marketing efforts for the company, including the Exhibitor FastTrak seminar program as well as new sales initiatives. MC2 is a nationally recognized leader in the exhibit and even marketing industry, designing, building and managing integrated marketing programs for events, exhibits, and brand environments for the world’s best brands. It has 12 locations in the U.S. and Germany.

Additional information for this article provided by Susan Ginwala, Senior Account Executive at MC2., Ending the Bitter Sales vs. Marketing Rivalry, 2014

2 Firebrick Consulting; from, 2014

3 Aberdeen Group; from, 2014

4 Corporate Executive Board Survey, 2011

5 Lori Wizdo,, 2013

6 LinkedIn Influencer, Steve Anderson, 2014

7 Adobe Digital Roadblock, 2014

8 Ogilvy One,, 2014

9, 2014

10  B2B Lead Generation, 2014

11, 2014

12, Four Digital Marketing Trends to Watch, 2014


14, How B2B Sales Have Changed, 2013

15, 2014

16 Exhibit Surveys Inc’s Trade Show Trends report, 2014