Why Marketing, Not Sales, Should Get the Big Bucks

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Why Marketing, Not Sales, Should Get the Big Bucks

September 24, 2013 

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Disclaimer: My background is in sales.

According to Forrester Research, buyers are anywhere from two-thirds to 90 percent of the way through the buying process before they ever contact a vendor or sales person.

In many cases, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer buyers wait until the last possible minute to contact a sales representative, relegating sales to mere order takers.

For a moment, just think about your own buying experiences. To what lengths do you go through to avoid talking directly to a sales person?

Consumers today are in complete control of the buying process, and are engaging in information to become smarter at a torrid rate. According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truthresearch, in 2010 the average consumer engaged with five pieces of content before making a buying decision. In 2011, that number doubled to more than 10.

Google is projecting that this number will continue to increase as consumers engage in even more media. Of course it will. According to comScore, in November 2012 the penetration of smartphones moved beyond the 50 percent mark in both the United States and most of Europe. That means the majority of us have content-gathering tools with us at all times. It also means that buyers can increasingly avoid salespeople when and if they want.

To sum up, Forrester analyst Lori Wizdo states that:

Marketing now owns a much bigger piece of the lead-to-revenue cycle.

But if marketing is much more responsible for the buyer’s journey, why do sales get more of the money?

A Mindset Shift

The majority of marketing and sales leaders will not disagree with the research above, but it seems our pay structures need a serious wake-up call. For example:

  • According to Salary.com, the median salary for a sales director in the United States is $140,205 USD, but a marketing position at the pays $119,836 USD, or 15% lower.
  • The top sales executive in a US company makes an average of $233,381. The top marketing executive averages $207,564 USD (a difference of 11%).

So even though marketing is responsible for a conservative 70% of the buying cycle, sales gets a more significant portion of the salary allowance. And think about it…the 70% doesn’t take into the account the post sale nurturing that marketing is responsible for in the form of loyalty, customer retention and brand evangelist programs.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m all for compensating salespeople. And this is not another sales and marketing alignment post. The problem here is that we are using traditional pay scales that have not in any way adapted to the changing nature of the buying cycle and the more critical role that marketing plays today.

No longer are marketers merely “sales helpers” that puts together pretty brochures and brand awareness programs. Marketers, in order to position the brand as a go-to informational resource, to get and keep customers, and to even create better customers, are more critical than ever before.

All I ask is that those in charge of the budgets take a realistic look at the importance of the marketing role in enterprises today. It’s time to get out of the past.

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