Where does "marketing" end and "sales" begin. In a provocative posting "Why Marketing Wastes Money" on Bnet.com's Sales Machine Blog, Geoffrey James advocates that much of passes for marketing is really wasted effort and unquantifiable pap -- that the true and only measure of the marketing's value in the business-to-business context is whether the marketers can generate actual and meaningful sales leads.
He may have a point, to a point, that is. Big words can be put around little concepts; and marketers -- not wanting to be seen doing the dirty work of actually selling anything -- I think sometimes wall themselves in ivory towers away from the real issues of their role. These days, salespeople, that is really good salespeople, are far more effective than the pushy stereotypes of the plaid-jacket used car dealers; they connect with their current and prospective clients, look for and develop value for everyone, and build a sustainable business.
The weakness in James' argument -- that marketing's one useful role is in generating sales leads -- is that in fact the most important part of the marketing/sales process is what happens AFTER the sale is concluded. Do clients receive real value; is the experience of doing business with us so satisfying that our customers eagerly tells friends and the public how great the process is; to the point that they will not only do business with us again, but eagerly refer friends and colleagues (and complete strangers) to us?
So, here marketing focuses on the entire client/business experience -- and this experience can be measured, both formally through surveys and the like, and informally by watching, learning, observing and (perhaps most importantly) participating in the client experience process.
Marketing is not just about getting leads for the sales department, I believe. It is about respecting and connecting the business and its clients. But it doesn't hurt to get some leads, as well.