Sales-focused B2B cultures tend to align themselves along two extremes: either they dismiss marketing entirely and refuse to consider the value marketing can bring to their efforts, or they give marketing too much free rein and lose the connection between marketing and sales efforts.

Either way, direct response marketers are in a tough spot. Without a direct connection between marketing efforts and revenue, we must rely on optimization metrics to show that the incremental results from a marketing/sales mixed effort generate greater ROI than without. Measurement is difficult to do in any organization. When marketing and sales are disconnected, or when marketing doesn’t have a seat at the table in the first place, measurement is near impossible.

So how does marketing prove value?

  1. Understand the client. Too often, businesses assume that since they know why their product is valuable to their client, they must know how to talk to the client. That’s not necessarily true. Even when your product is valuable, you’re relying on your client to jump through a lot of hoops internal to their organization in order to bring your product in-house. Making that process easier for your client is part of what sales is doing every day. If you can provide sales with tools and content to pass along that show you truly have listened to and understood your client’s needs, you’re on your way to becoming indispensable to the organization. Yet this is still a tactical role, and you’re probably looking for something a bit bigger in scope.
  2. Make sales your priority. It’s tempting to talk about our marketing efforts as if they were their own end goal. But in a sales-focused organization, they’re not. Make sales a priority by acknowledging that your efforts are entirely focused on moving qualified leads to sales as efficiently as possible, even after a lead has been passed on to sales. After all, leads go dark for many reasons, and making sure that your organization stays top of mind while a client sorts out budget and political issues is critical – especially since clients tend not to want to speak to sales during this period. This supporting role is critical, but difficult to quantify. You’ll need to go a step further to gain a true partnership with sales.
  3. Become the gatekeeper. No one likes cold-calling, but most sales people need to do at least some of this. Show that you can do a better job scoring and handing off “warmer” leads to sales and they’ll start to ask for marketing help more often. If you’re not familiar with scoring, this is a process of assigning a value, or score, to each lead based on the responses you’ve received from them. A lead that asks for a sales person to contact them would receive a high score (and of course get called), but a lead that didn’t ask for a sales contact and didn’t open the whitepaper they requested would get a very low score. Every day, high scores get contacted by sales, but low scores are repurposed. Becoming a successful gatekeeper for leads will lead to the type of partnership with sales that you should be looking for.

Nearly three years ago, my first MediaPost article focused on B2B eNurturing tactics. After some recent experiences, it seemed time to revisit nurture marketing. Email is uniquely suited to marketing efforts to bring value to clients, support sales, and set marketing up as the gatekeeper between leads and sales. It’s been three years – is it time to take a look at your efforts again as well?

Originally published on’s Email Insider blog. View comments there.