When I started my career as a marketing professional the lines between sales and marketing were very clear.Marketing was responsible for:

  • Strategy
  • Messaging
  • One-way communication from the company to the consumer
  • Lead generation

A successful marketer had strong communication and writing  or graphic skills with a mixture of creativity and strategic thinking ability.  Their primary job was to get the prospect to raise their hand and say, “I want to know more.” At that point,  the sales team took over.

Sales was responsible for:

  • Interaction with prospects
  • Answering and asking questions
  • Serving as an information resource
  • Moving the prospect through the sales process

A successful sales professional had extraordinary listening and problem solving skills, and an almost innate understanding of psychology and motivation. Their primary job was to help prospects see their product as the solution to their problem.

This all worked really well with each team operating within their box until the emergence of social media. The problem is that social media is neither exclusively sales or exclusively marketing. Where does social media belong?  Is it a marketing function? When marketing controls social media, they often treat it like another advertising platform, broadcasting message after message and wondering why no one clicks on the links they share. When sales controls social media, there is typically more interaction, but often without the strategic focus which moves customers to purchase.  As a result, I think there is be a third discipline, social media, which will require a blending of the skills.

Social media  professionals must have  the ability to think both strategically and tactically. They must be able to plan messages and lead generation activity while simultaneously interacting, asking and answering questions and providing general information.  To be successful, they must be:

  • Strategic and understand how social media supports the objectives of the company and integrates with other marketing activities
  • Good listeners who elicit information from prospects which will help the salesperson move them through the sales channel.
  • Good with language, because social media is about words
  • Good with visuals, because more than ever social media is driven by visual content

There will still be traditional marketing and traditional salespeople, but there will be a growing opportunity for the right people who exist somewhere between the two.