For a number of reasons, marketers get the short end of the stick when it comes to the respect department.

Whether it’s because marketing is seen as easy work (the phrase “arts-and-crafts” is sometimes used to denigrate marketing) or because it’s hard to show how marketing directly contributes to the bottom line, many a marketer can be heard every day echoing that old Rodney Dangerfield line: “I don’t get no respect.”

There are a few ways that inbound marketers can demonstrate their worth in order to earn the respect of their sales team, none of which really require any extra work. Instead, all you’re doing is reframing the way that Sales thinks about what you do so that they see the value in Marketing.


1. Know your numbers.

Marketing is a blend of science and art, which can make it difficult to translate the efforts of a marketing team into solid, top-line metrics. This is in direct opposition to how Sales works. Sales is regularly evaluated based on hard numbers: How many deals they close, how much revenue they bring into the business, etc.

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Marketing gets “soft” numbers: The number of website visitors, page views, conversion rate, etc. This disconnect in targets and phrasing can lead to jealousy between departments, where the sales team feels as though it is responsible for bringing in the revenue while Marketing isn’t held accountable for anything that actually matters.

Of course, this isn’t true. The efforts of Marketing just don’t directly correlate to revenue as easily as the efforts of Sales do. But by finding a way to correlate the work that marketing does with numbers like revenue makes it easier for Sales (and other departments) to understand the value that Marketing brings to the table.

As has been mentioned, showing direct correlation can be difficult. But even soft indicators can go far in demonstrating the value of your marketing team. For example, if Marketing launched a massive campaign last quarter and the data shows that there was an inordinate increase in closed sales, despite all other factors being the same, then it would be a reasonable conclusion that Marketing is responsible for this boost in revenue.

Can you prove it directly? Not always. As we all learned in Stats 101, “correlation is not the same thing as causation.” But it’s a reasonable conclusion nonetheless, and an easy way for Sales to quantify the impact that Marketing has. Being able to say that “Marketing brought in $20 million last year” carries with it a lot more heft than saying “Marketing netted us half a billion page views last year.”

2. Connect with customers.

The sales team is in regular contact with customers, prospects, and leads, which is great: It gives them a unique understanding of the issues and aspirations that your customers have. At the same time, this can breed resentment between Sales and Marketing because Sales might not believe that Marketing actually understands the needs of the customer.

If the marketing team never connects with customers, then there’s always the possibility that they don’t truly understand what the customer wants. And if Marketing doesn’t understand what the customer wants, then they probably aren’t creating content that will draw the ideal customer in: Instead, they’re creating content that attracts the wrong audience, which leads to the wrong kinds of leads being passed along to Sales. This, of course, breeds frustration for everyone.

Every so often, the marketing team should join in on a sales call or meet with clients face to face so that they can better understand their needs and desires. This will help you become a better marketer because you’ll be learning about your customer, which means you’ll know whether or not you are creating the right content. If you are, great; if not, you can adjust your editorial calendar so that you are hitting the right areas. Think about it like an audit that you conduct once or twice a year to make sure you’re on track with your goals.

Joining sales calls and meeting clients in the field also takes you out of your comfort zone as a marketer, showing Sales that you’re a team player. There’s something about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes that always goes far in fostering respect.

3. Lend a helping hand.

One of the easiest ways for Marketing to get respect from Sales is for them to help the sales team out at every opportunity.

Salespeople are at their happiest when they are spending their time actively selling to prospects. It’s what they’re good at, what they’re passionate about, and to quote those GEICO commercials, it’s just what they do. But as most sales teams know, it’s hard to spend all of your time selling—not because you don’t want to, but because you’ve got countless other things on your plate.

Marketing is in a unique position to help Sales spend more time selling, because the same content that a marketing team creates to attract leads can be repurposed as powerful selling aides. By keeping the needs of Sales top of mind in this way, Marketing can enable Sales to close more deals and bring more revenue into the company.

Examples of using content to enable Sales would be things like:

  • Creating a central library of all of the content that Marketing has created so that Sales can easily find and use it;
  • Creating downloadable pdf factsheets that address the questions that Sales gets asked repeatedly (saving them the time that would have otherwise been spent typing the information up);
  • Supplying Sales with content for use on social media, allowing them to build up their following as a thought leader in the industry;
  • And more.

Each of these things works to fulfill the same primary goal: Saving Sales time and effort so that they can put it to better use by actively selling. And the best part is that these steps don’t require a lot of extra work on the side of Marketing. You aren’t creating brand new content specifically for use by the sales team; you’re simply repurposing content that you’ve already created into packages that better suit the needs of Sales. If you can tie the work that you do to the work that Sales does, it’s easier for them to see the value in what you do because you are directly impacting their ability to sell.

4. Stop thinking in terms of departments.

Okay, so this isn’t so much something that Marketing needs to do on its own as much as it is something that both Marketing and Sales need to do together.

Sales and Marketing have been treated as separate entities for far too long, when in reality they are just different sides to the same coin. This difference in perspective has led to an environment of competition between many sales and marketing teams that has the potential to hold back company goals.

By changing this dynamic and reconciling the two departments, you would be surprised at the progress that can be made. By aligning Sales and Marketing instead of pitting them against each other, you are ensuring that decisions and strategies are always made with mutually-shared goals.

This environment also makes it easier for Sales to really understand just what it is that Marketing is doing and how these actions impact the success rate of Sales.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Earning the respect of Sales isn’t about taking on extra work; it’s about reframing how your sales team thinks about what you do. By earning the respect of Sales, you are ensuring that the sales team trusts your input, opinions, and most importantly, the leads that you generate and funnel to them.

Definitive Guide to Selling Better and Faster