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Are Marketers Selling Salespeople Short?

Marketers are doing yeoman's work in providing salespeople with actionable content to help them move the sales effort forward. They're not doing as good a job helping them select the right white paper, Powerpoint presentation, or testimonial to use at the right time in the sales cycle, however. That's the key finding of a new survey of more than 100 sales and marketing professionals conducted by KnowledgeTree, a content management software company.

More than two thirds of marketers responding to the survey said they provided fresh collateral to their sales departments in timely fashion, but only 44% of sales executives agreed. The interesting thing about this disconnect, says KnowledgeTree VP of Marketing Peter Mollins, is that neither of the two groups—though so far apart in their assessments--are necessarily mistaken.

“Marketing knows firsthand whether the material is fresh. They're the one ones producing it and sending it out,” Mollins says. “The problem is that salespeople aren't sure what content is the right thing to send at the right stage of the cycle. Salespeople tend to send out whatever is familiar to them and not the content that will resonate best.”

When asked if marketing makes it easy for sales to find new collateral and other marketing tools, marketers once again gave themselves high marks. Some 84% answered, “Yes.” Only 51% of salespeople agreed with them.

“When you consider the shift in the sales model at most companies, this is not surprising,” Mollins says. “Sales engages with prospects, then the prospects disappear to do research on their own and maybe return again. They may be doing competitive evaluation or creating a business case for senior management. Every case is different and marketing needs to be able to measure the ROI of their materials and help sales deploy them in the most effective fashion.”

Survey results indicate that marketers know this to be the case, perhaps despite not doing all they can to turn around the situation. Seventy-two percent of sales respondents expressed confidence that they were using the right tools in the proper situations; 61 percent of marketers disagreed.

When sales executives were asked by KnowledgeTree to name the things they wanted most from marketing departments, number one was no surprise: 51% said better leads. Not far behind, however, at 48%, was better content and collateral.