7 Reasons Marketing Should Never Report into Sales

by Debra Andrews | January 20, 2022

Marketing and sales may be very different animals, but when you get down to it, they share one critical goal in common: Helping the business generate revenue. Yet, how they support that goal is entirely different. When both functions are doing their respective jobs and firing on all cylinders, the results can be off the charts. And when they’re not, the results suffer.

For marketing and sales to drive revenue growth in their own ways, they need to operate as interrelated but independent functions, each reporting into the C-suite. Yet it’s still common for marketing to report into sales, especially in sales-oriented cultures. That’s a sure path to suboptimal results, for these 7 reasons.  

#1: You’ll neglect about 80 percent of your revenue funnel.

Today’s B2B buying journey bears little resemblance to how buyers used to interact with your company. Before the move to digital, buyers relied on sales for most of their information, so they needed to engage with sales early on. That meant a large portion of the revenue funnel revolved around sales interactions, requiring lots of sales enablement materials.

Now buyers spend most of their journey interacting with your company online before they’re willing to talk with sales. And that means marketing is responsible for much of the revenue funnel. Marketing needs to devote its resources to developing content and campaigns that generate a large volume of leads and nurture them far down the funnel. Otherwise, your pipeline will dry up in a flash.

#2: You won’t meet buyers where they are in their journey.

Sales will naturally want marketing to develop materials that help them close the deal, like slide decks, sales sheets, and proposals. That’s fine for buyers who are far down the funnel, but it doesn’t help buyers who are still gaining awareness of your product, demonstrating interest, and considering your offering.

For buyers who aren’t ready for the handoff to sales, marketing needs to focus on developing content that nurtures them until they get there. Without a thoughtful approach to lead nurturing, your buyers will be left hungry for the content they need…and stuck in the middle of the funnel, with no way to move ahead.

#3: You’ll end up with dormant leads, a leaky pipeline…and less revenue.

When buyers show interest in your product but aren’t ready for a sales touch, they need a marketing touch to keep them interested and move them closer to the point that they are ready for a sales contact. But when marketing is relegated to working only on sales enablement—and doesn’t nurture buyers that are mid-way through the journey—those leads become dormant or leak right out of your pipeline…taking revenue right along with them.

Strategic marketers know how to re-ignite leads that have become stale and keep leads from abandoning ship, using marketing technologies that identify these at-risk buyers and re-engagement campaigns that generate renewed interest. B2B companies that let marketing focus on initiatives like these don’t squander revenue opportunities.    

#4: Everyone will be busy closing sales…and no one will be generating leads.

When both sales and marketing hover at the bottom of the revenue funnel—with marketing busily creating sales enablement materials and sales busily using them with prospects—everyone is focused on closing leads that have gotten that far in the process. And no one is focused on generating and nurturing a steady, predictable stream of new leads.

When a prospective client tells us their lead pipeline is weak, it’s often because marketing is stuck working at the bottom of the funnel. To ensure your pipeline is chockful of leads that represent the right customer profile, you want marketing 100% focused on generating and nurturing leads until they’re ready to engage with sales. That won’t happen if sales has marketing tied up with sales enablement. 

#5: Marketing will become reactive and scattershot, instead of proactive and targeted.

When marketers take their direction from sales, they typically turn into task-oriented, reactive order takers. Business development teams shoot off ad hoc marketing requests that aren’t grounded in strategy or aligned with the business’s goals. They fight over marketing’s finite capacity. And they’re disappointed when their scattershot marketing ideas don’t generate results.   

For marketers to drive revenue growth, they need to operate as order makers. By being proactive, strategic, and targeted in its approach, marketing can ensure every dollar invested is devoted to campaigns and content that bring in qualified leads that convert.

#6: Your marketing resources may not align with your business priorities.

In sales-oriented cultures, every business unit clamors for its share of the marketing pie based on its own sales forecasts and P&L targets. That may be democratic, but it’s not strategic. You want your marketing dollars allocated to the products, services, and customer segments that are your top business priorities…not the business unit with the longest wish list or the loudest voice.

When marketing reports into the CEO or COO, it creates an environment where the marketing budget can be allocated strategically to generate leads from the ideal customer type. Like the Boston Consulting Group four quadrants approach, it puts you in better position to milk your Cash Cows to fund marketing investments in Stars (products in high-growth markets, with a strong market share) and Question Marks (products in high-growth markets that have yet to gain much share)…and not waste resources on Dogs (products with low share and low market growth, which will likely be jettisoned at some point).     

#7: You’ll only focus on the one-to-one approach of sales…and miss the one-to-many benefits of marketing.    

Generating leads is a volume game: You need a lot of them at the top of the funnel for a good yield at the bottom. But when sales attempts to own most of the revenue funnel, you end up taking a one-to-one approach that doesn’t scale the way marketing does.

Courting buyers one at a time is fine when the lead is far down the funnel. First, you need to get as many qualified leads as possible into the pipeline, and that requires a one-to-many approach. If you don’t set up marketing to generate a high volume of Marketing Qualified Leads and nurture them until they’re Sales Qualified Leads, be prepared to pay a much higher customer acquisition cost.

B2B companies with aggressive revenue goals recognize that marketing can serve as a significant growth driver—as long as marketers have the reporting structure and C-suite direction they need to do the job right. To learn how to structure your marketing function and turn it into a growth engine, schedule a free consultation with Marketri CEO Deb Andrews.