Marketing and Sales: Two Different Species?

All B2B companies have something in common: Sales and Marketing never work together as a tightly integrated team. Marketing and Sales never seem to be an optimized, synchronous unit that cooperates for the ultimate benefit of the company’s performance.

“Really? Never? Why? How is that possible?” You might ask. (Especially if you think that you’re the exception).

Well, the answer is simple, my B2B friend, and most obvious if you think about it.

In order to be a successful sales person you need a ‘type of personality’. You know what I’m talking about: those ‘sales’ personality traits that all successful sales people share. Well, the same thing goes for marketing. If you want to be a successful marketer, you need that marketing ‘type of personality’.

One thing is for sure: sales and marketing people have almost polar-opposite goals and behaviours. Steve W. Martin (not the comedian) wrote about something like this in a recent blog post for the Harvard Business Review:

“They have different views of the world … and sometimes they are even at war.”

Well, personally I wouldn’t use the word war myself, because I absolutely never ever exaggerate, but you get the point, right? Different thinking – different behaviour.

Let’s put this into perspective by using some common facts about the differences between the world of sales and the world of marketing.

Sales people are loners; they accomplish their tasks, and reach their goals, basically all on their own. The sale ultimately depends on them and them alone. They must constantly make decisions that impact their revenue stream, as well as decisions that create the results that secure their income (sell or be fired).
In this unique sales reality we often see a reward system that reinforces individual results (sales!) with no regard for the marketing department’s role of supporting and stimulating those sales. This is very problematic.

On the flip side, marketers scoff at the lack of vision coming from the short sighted sales department and deplore the fact that the sales staff only focuses on the immediate with no regard for mid and long term client needs and expectations.

If you ask a sales person about the marketing department’s contribution, they always say that they need something different from what the marketing department is currently doing. According to the sales department, marketers are too far removed from the field, and therefore don’t truly understand the stakes and challenges required to close a sale.

The marketing perspective is also confrontational, all things considered. Marketing teams believe that the sales staff itself is the problem. According to marketers, sales never follow product positioning guidelines, customer targeting recommendations, or competitive intelligence insights. Marketers reproach sales for neglecting to inform themselves of the information communicated by marketing, or worse yet, not being competent enough to properly use highly strategic marketing information.

In reality, sales and marketing are interdependent, both victims or victors or each other’s efforts… they just don’t know or understand this fact very well because they are an entirely different species!

What’s your take on this?

In my opinion, I feel that it’s the responsibility of the business owner, or president, or leader, to rally the troops by communicating a vision and by establishing mechanisms, processes, and objectives that assure collaboration and an exchange of strategic and tactical information.

The company as a whole also needs to establish a system for better field communications between the sales team and the marketing department, and a system for better distribution of “timely” information. CRM systems designed with appropriate sales & marketing cooperation processes have proven positive results in many companies so far.

It’s another left hand right hand argument. Ultimately, both parties need to increase the frequency of their interactions. This would assure that the sales people understand and can appropriately apply all that valuable marketing information.
So, here we are again, same question: What’s your take on this issue?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Can Sales and Marketing work together efficiently? Can they put aside their cultural differences and work together towards the greater good of their company?

Let me know what you think, I’m really interested!


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