In the world of business to business (B2B) sales, the role of marketing is a bit like that of the front rider in a cycling peloton. He usually does not win the race but sets the pace and helps the guy behind him claim the podium.

There is no doubt as to the value that the lead rider in the peloton offers the eventual winner. He provides a slip-stream, protection from other riders and advance warning of hazards ahead. This help is virtually invisible, but critical to the winners’ success.

So why then do business owners, especially in B2B, chronically underinvest in marketing? Why is there so much doubt, when the role of marketing in a B2B sale is exactly the same as that of the front rider in a cycling team? Break Think about it. Marketing happens before sales – it creates a slip-stream for the sales team to operate in. It raises awareness of the product among potential customers; provides the sales team with intelligence and guides them in how the market is shaping based on research. A good marketing campaign is essential to the success of a high-value, complex B2B sale. When done well, it shortens the sales cycle!

It is the sales team who eventually claims the tangible spoils of a new paying client. But in a competitive B2B environment you will be doing yourself a disfavour if you underinvest in marketing. You will lose-out on the big deals and never really know why.

If you are a business owner who does not understand the role of marketing, or thinks it is a waste of money, I suggest you watch some cycling on television (pity the Tour de France has just finished). There you’ll see the power of the team in helping the winner succeed!