By Zoe Hominick, Head of SMB Marketing

The relationship between sales and marketing is constantly changing, but the growth of digital could represent a real shift in the balance. As Head of SMB Marketing at Telefónica UK, it’s something I am very passionate about, and it was the focus of my talk at the recent B2B Leaders Forum.

The final days of the funnel

Historically, the sales funnel was heavily weighted towards sales, accompanied by stereotypes such as marketing is only involved at the start of a project (and the old joke was that they really love colouring in). The responsibility for leads and their conversion was seen as the domain of sales alone.

But now with the knowledge of the internet at their fingertips, customers are more powerful than ever before. Product comparison and review sites, social media, blogs like this one – they all mean that people are making more decisions by themselves, before any contact with a salesperson. The purchasing process is no longer a linear journey from marketing to sales. People will visit your website and maybe even find you via social media at any point in the process, not just at the start. And some purchases may be made without ever involving a salesperson.

Choices, choices

Online may be the first port of call for now, but people still want, and will use, a wide range of channels to interact with your business. And each of these needs to be fully understood and carefully managed.

This mix of channels means that all your marketing must work hard and messaging must be consistent. Content must be informative and engaging across all digital touchpoints, as well as offline. Increasingly, sales and marketing both need to be involved throughout the sales process.

I’ve been lucky at O2. As a brand and marketing-led business, our Sales and Marketing Teams have always worked very closely together. But this isn’t always such a cosy relationship, a topic close to the heart of Dave Stevens, MD for EY, which he discusses in his blog post.

The customer is in charge

For many in B2B, marketing is still seen as less important than sales. But I think as customers become more empowered through digital networks, marketing is becoming increasingly important. It’s the customer who runs the show now more than ever, not sales, or marketing. How they perceive a business through every channel of communication now becomes crucial to generating a relationship and ultimately a sale. Who knows, one day marketing might become even more powerful than sales. You heard it here first.

You can email me directly at Zoe Hominick or find out more @O2BusinessUK

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