There are many areas of ongoing controversy in the world – Alien v. Predator, King Kong v. Godzilla, Greece v. Turkey, Israel v. (Pick one) and Sales v. Marketing.
I’m not going to come down on a side for most of the above, but the Sales v. Marketing one intrigues me, because the two combatants should be best friends. They share a common goal, they have separate methods and approaches, they both want more customers. They do compete for financial resources in some companies, so that may set off some minor turf scuffles, but I think each is misunderstood by the other, and it’s a case of walking a mile in the other guy’s shoes.
Add to this the fact that management executives in many companies confuse the role of each in their organization, in fact use the terms interchangeably. This kind of thinking simply adds to the controversy, and pits one against the other.
The functions are different, they have different ways of measuring success, have different individual goals on a small scale, and use resources differently. In some firms, the sales function is placed underneath a VP of Marketing, correctly or incorrectly depending upon the structure of the company, it’s size and the product or service being sold. My guess is that if that VP had to actually go out and sell to a lead list, they would not fare very well. That doesn’t make them an inappropriate manager for that function, but it does weaken the case for non-peer review. On the other hand, if the leading salesman were asked to assess the company’s current brand health, determine their most likely next move in entering a new niche vertical, or have to craft an outreach marketing strategy, they would likely come up with something that might have some value, but not the whole ball of wax.
The reason is that they are different skill sets, not interchangeable and with different focus points. The salesman focuses on customers one at a time, creates and environment where they can use their powers of verbal or written persuasion to tell people what they want to hear about the product in a way that motivates them to make a purchase, big or small, right then and there.
The marketer is in the mass communication business. They set up a virtual environment in the mind of a predetermined prospect type without ever having met them, make a case in a variety of ways for that product or service being the best choice among many, and motivate through written or spoken word (radio or TV) to create an impression that drives huge numbers of prospects to understand that product or service in a certain way, and helps them decide to make a purchase at some point.
Success is determined for the sales person by dollars driven in, or clients gained, or products moved. Success for the marketer is about more product moved over time, a rise in brand awareness, the number of conference attendees at a tradeshow, and a host of other metrics determined by the goal of the exercise.
But these two can each do their job better in the presence of the other! They should be buddies! But they’re often at odds within the organization. They each think the others’ job is less important, likely because they’ve not done the others’ work for any length of time. But by working together, they can each improve.
Sales, you need to understand that the marketer’s mindset is more focused on hitting the most common denominator the most often, because it’s easy for prospects to ignore their messages – delete them, throw them out, hang up, you name it, it’s a one-way conversation. Marketing, you need to hold onto the understanding that if the prospect hangs up on or ignores pleas for a meeting, Sales takes it personally, because each one counts for a lot! They invest a lot of emotion and time into each approach, planning, investigating, researching, so they “know” the prospect much better – therefore when things to get accepted right away, it’s a bigger loss.
A little understanding goes a long way. If Marketing took the challenges Sales faces to heart when creating one-sheets or promotions, they’d be simple, answer the most often asked questions, and be nearly weightless so the briefcase-carrying arm doesn’t drag on the ground at the end of the day. If Sales realized how much time it takes to say things in just the right way, how hard it is to determine what the most often asked questions are, and how long it takes to “just redo it”, they’d make their wishes known early and often, and get better tools to work with in return for their efforts.
We can’t fix Greece v. Turkey, or even know whether it’s Godzilla or King Kong that wins the battle for Tokyo, we do know that when Sales and Marketing work together things go much more smoothly and there more money all around.
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