I spent some time asking sales reps, “What is the biggest challenge you currently face in sales?” The number one answer that came up over and over was “not enough leads.”

Isn’t lead generation a marketing activity? This got me thinking, is a lack of leads a sales challenge or a marketing challenge? You can read 5 blog posts from sales leaders and get 5 different answers.

It’s apparent that all the experts are giving conflicting information to salespeople and creating confusion. How much of the information you consume relates to your industry, skillset, and style as a sales rep? Do these people live a day in your shoes? Do they feel the everyday stress of hitting quota like you do?  These are all questions you need to be asking yourself daily. Hopefully, this will eliminate any of the confusion so you can get focused on hitting quota.

The Never-Ending Argument

There is a brutal battle going on by sales thought leaders on social media telling you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Some would say that marketing activities in sales are a crime, others would say that “cold” prospecting activities are a thing of the past.

This confusion only harms the everyday sales reps who just want some help achieving quota. Should reps feel guilty because they don’t cold call or should they feel guilty because they write content as the vehicle to start sales conversations? They should if they aren’t achieving quota, but not because some guru says they shouldn’t try or test something.

It’s apparent that we need to define the difference between “prospecting” and “marketing” so we can eliminate misperceptions from either side of the argument.

What is marketing?

“The act of buying or selling in a market.”

“The total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.” (Source: dictionary.com)

What is sales prospecting?

Full disclosure, it was nearly impossible to find a good definition for “sales” prospecting.

“Prospecting is the discovery process by which sales professionals seek out new sales conversations to generate new revenue streams.” (source: reference.com)

Two Ways of Getting the Same Outcome

Some consider marketing an “inbound” only activity, while “prospecting” is an outbound only activity.

This is no longer the case in sales or marketing today. The best marketing has shifted to include an outbound strategy, using engagement to create 1-1 conversations proactively vs reactively. Modern sales teams are no longer going all-in on cold outbound activity and have started relying on digital technology to give them the insights they need to scale conversations.

Do you see the common theme here? Marketing and prospecting are two different activities that achieve the same result, a sales conversation!

So, what we’re really arguing is the method a sales rep uses to create a sales conversation, how dumb!

The Reality in Sales Today

The Bridge Group released a report stating, “On average, 67% of reps achieve quota in each group. There has remarkable consistently around this metric over the years. Two-thirds of reps achieving quota seems to be the natural equilibrium.”

I’m not sure about you, but something is broken in sales today. Some could even argue that something is broken in marketing as well considering they both share this responsibility. Whatever people assume is working is obviously not working. Why is that?

Is it because salespeople aren’t doing enough of this?

Are salespeople not making enough cold calls or sending enough emails? Should they be knocking on more doors and attending more events?

Or Is it because salespeople aren’t doing enough of this?

Are salespeople not engaging enough on LinkedIn? Are they not tweeting enough? Should they be creating more content?

Or is it because salespeople are doing too much of this?

Are salespeople on too many channels at one time? Are they not spending enough time on the phone because they are too social? Should they spend less time researching and more time dialing?

Revenue Doesn’t Discriminate

Marketing activities in your sales process will create results if you make the commitment. We had two sales reps last month on our Creation Agency team set over sixty appointments for a client all through social activity and engagement. They did not pick up the phone once.

Cold calling will keep some sales reps fed for the rest of their career because they have mastered the art. A Creation Agency sales partner set 10 appointments last week alone only doing cold outreach via phone and email.

Blending prospecting and marketing in sales isn’t a crime, especially if you’re hitting your quota.

Salespeople need more sales conversations. Revenue doesn’t care whether you get those from a marketing activity or a sales activity. All revenue cares is that you do whatever it takes to hit your number.

Find What Works for YOU and MASTER It!

You know your industry and your buyer better than most of the gurus who tell you differently. The best salespeople understand their strengths and their weaknesses. They understand the style and method in which they feel the most comfortable to maximize results in sales. You need to find what activities works best for you and get obsessed with mastering them.

If you don’t like cold calling than don’t cold call. Look for new innovative methods and start using a blend of marketing activities to warm up the call first. If you love cold calling than pick up the damn phone and dial. If you love to create content, than create content!

Sales is about high activity, innovation, passion, hard work, and more importantly about a consistent process of learning and implementing. There is a course on every way imaginable to sell. Find what activities you feel the most comfortable with and sign up for that course today.

The world of buying and selling is changing. You get to decide if you want to do the same thing you’ve always done or evolve with the times.  Become the master of sales conversations and become your own guru!