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One of the biggest qualms sales professionals have with marketers is that their actions don't generate sales opportunities directly.

As a marketer myself, I can understand their concern: the path from marketing action to generating a sales opportunity is often unclear. And a marketing department that champions launching a blog, being active on all social media sites, developing e-books, and taking no prisoners in their path to accomplishing these things, is not the way to go.

If you anticipate butting heads with the sales department in the future, or are constantly defending your actions, heed the three pieces of advice below:

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Optimize before you innovate

Review sales activity over the past three years. has executed in an attempt to connect with prospects, build relationships within certain markets, and generate leads. Once you generate that list - which will include attempts to connect with prospects, build relationships and generate leads -- find out how well each activity performed as far as creating those opportunities.

What you are looking for in this information is opportunity for improvement. Find the problems or weaknesses in these events and offer marketing insights that you can implement to drive better results.

For example, special events run by salespeople often attract people who are not qualified buyers. Demonstrate to sales how you plan to attract qualified buyers through a content marketing strategy and then offer to help them re-run the event once you have been able to attract qualified prospects.

Another example is a webinar. Sales will run a webinar trying to drum up leads but they often do not result in leads. Demonstrate to them that they are not picking up leads because their offers are not targeted to the right audience. An offer for a product or service needs to be presented to potential customers further along in the sales process. Instead, offer a piece of content after a webinar that details a problem the product or service solved as a way to further qualify interested buyers.

The three-legged race

While marketers should focus on creating new opportunities for sales, they should take advantage of the opportunities managed directly by sales.

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For example, marketing will attract and qualify a prospect as a potential buyer, at which point the sales team takes the reigns and runs with it. It is at this point that marketing then washes its hands of that opportunity and moves on to finding others. Instead, what marketing should do is put more time into creating communications that will help sales in closing the deal.

Marketing needs to tie in closely with sales to understand what's hot in the pipeline and offer guidance on what material will help that qualified lead feel more confident, informed and comfortable in making the decision to do business with your company.

By arming sales with relevant communications such as case studies, white papers, product and service sheets and other custom marketing collateral this will help sales communicate the value of what is being sold.

Build a close relationship with sales and ask them what they need to help sell better that you can help with. Instead of focusing entirely on opportunity generation, focus on progressing the opportunities that currently exist.

Build relationships the old fashioned way

With the world of marketing going all-in on inbound techniques such as blogging and social media, is that what marketers should be focusing most of their attention on to grow the organizations they work with? No.

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So many small- to medium-sized businesses are growing by the millions every year because of actions taken that do not involve any inbound marketing. Many of the companies I have worked with that are growing by the millions are taking actions such as building partnerships, asking for referrals, and most importantly, expanding their network.

A popular activity that has so many benefits is building professional networks by joining associations or clubs that do not have anything to do with business. The idea is to build a personal relationship first through non-business activities and to move to the next level once that rapport is established.

Many executives and sales professionals already belong to esteemed clubs whether it is a squash, tennis or golf clubs. If they don't, this is your opportunity as a marketer to communicate the message that the company your executives and sales team keep will directly influence the opportunities they generate. So instead of spending money on tchotchke, invest in memberships.

Once you find out what clubs the executives and sales professionals in your organization belong to or will join, help them build scripts that communicate the company's core value proposition through elevator pitches and stories. Arm them with multiple approaches that will allow them to choose their approach depending on who they are talking to and what opportunity presents itself.

A big part of a marketer's job is to simplify the job of the salesperson. Do that and marketing will begin prove its value to the organization and opportunities to innovate will come more easily.

Ryan Caligiuri is the founder of Ryan Caligiuri International , a growth consultancy focused on developing programs that generate credibility, competitive advantages, leads/demand and new revenue streams for small– to medium-sized enterprises. Mr. Caligiuri is also the founder of The Growth Network a mentoring program that teaches entrepreneurs and marketers best practices, frameworks and strategies to become business growth generators.

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Engage with Mr. Caligiuri on Twitter .

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