Why Marketing Is Business Development’s Most Valuable Player

What should marketing be responsible for in your company? This question is surprisingly hard to answer, even for marketers. Harvard Business Review found that the responsibility of chief marketing officers varies drastically from one job description to another, along with the experience and skills of people filling the role. Most are responsible for marketing strategy, branding, and customer metrics, but beyond that, we can’t seem to agree.

A lot of this confusion stems from the misunderstanding of marketing’s function. Often marketing is looked at in a very operational manner, rather than a function that truly adds value to the business—i.e., the aftereffect of developing a product. But this is far too limiting.

Marketing should be a strategic enabler of sales, a pipeline generator for the company’s future business, and a function that leads the entire company in positioning itself against the competition. Marketers should consider themselves strategists for their individual business streams because they can influence, measure, and interact daily with each potential market. Ideally, they should leverage this expertise to guide the future course of every business, but often, marketing is forced into narrower lanes.

The Untapped Potential of Business Development + Marketing

If there is one area where marketing commonly gets left out, it’s business development. Shockingly, almost half of all service companies don’t coordinate the two. This usually stems from the friction caused by the dual pressures of business development wanting marketing to drive better leads and marketing expecting business development to better nurture leads for higher close rates. But how can either be successful without the other?

Business development is closest to customers and their individual needs, while marketing is positioned to create better messaging and content that will resonate with the market, prospects, and current customers. Each should be informing the other for better results from the highest part of the customer research funnel past deal closure.

Specifically, marketing should be:

1. Finding On-Point Messaging

Business development tends to focus on the leads in front of it, while marketing team members sometimes try to wash their hands of responsibility once leads get handed over to sales. This can lead to a disconnect between the language used in marketing campaigns and the more sales-orientated terms used by business development. When working together, business development can more effectively use some of the campaign language to bridge the gap between what attracted customers in the first place and where sales is trying to move them.

Likewise, business development can give marketing a better idea of the language customers use to describe their needs. Then Marketing can create a full funnel messaging strategy that uses content, events, and specific messaging through the entire sales process to find, capture, and nurture leads more effectively. This results in better sales messaging and support materials that are synced with the marketing campaign language and goals. Ultimately, this should help conversion and retention rates throughout the entire sales cycle.

2. Setting Up Sales Slam Dunks

Business development wants better qualified leads from marketing, but marketing can’t provide those without the help from sales. Marketing must utilize business development’s knowledge of what makes a good versus bad lead to create effective campaigns and target key buyers and influencers. Working together, the two departments can create a key stakeholder map and build strategies addressing the aspects that matter most to company decision makers. Followed by campaigns that drive the most meaningful leads as measured by stakeholder criteria.

Sales should also use marketing as business analyst specialists who, by tying together various data streams, can find the areas of greatest opportunity with different customers and industries. Once marketers bring together that ecosystem of analysts, advisors, partners, and influencers to identify the high-quality targets, they can help business development to create a comprehensive strategy for systematically pursuing them.

3. Clearing the Path Forward

The marketing team’s access to competitive intelligence and activities on social media keeps it at the forefront of industry changes, which will help adjust and refine differentiated messaging to stay ahead of the competition. By working together to form a cohesive strategy, both marketing and business development benefit from consistent messaging, better lead outcomes, and dependable lead tracking through the entire funnel.

The ear-to-the-ground marketing mentality can also supplement business development by ensuring sales has access to the right forums and events where customers and influencers can be engaged. These opportunities are key for sales to demonstrate offerings that are relevant to the prospects, which helps generate some on-ground sales leads through the right positioning and connections.

The toughest part for marketing managers at times is getting invited to the business development party to begin with. Stop waiting for that invite and start looking for ways you can “show and tell” your value. Find any use-case outside of marketing’s defined realm where you can demonstrate a measurable and visible result. The word will spread that you can help other departments improve their performance if they leverage marketing’s expertise.

The End Goal

The dream is that instead of checking with marketing later, people come to marketing first for positioning, messaging, and differentiated strategies. Work toward this dream by finding small marketing wins with other departments, starting with business development.

The long game for marketing is to try to redirect your organization to a marketing-first approach. Marketing should contribute to targeting, business development, sales, and most other functions as the main influencers and bridge to customers. A true marketing-first organization views marketing as a key player in strategy development, lead generation, and innovation. If none of that is in your job title today, consider to add it and make it your mission to prove marketing’s full worth.

Does your marketing team partner with business development to increase revenue? Tell me about your best practices in the comments.