Sales and Marketing: Why Can’t They Just Get Along?

The battle between sales and marketing is legendary. Sales is Mars. Marketing is Venus. Is there any hope the two can come together?

The two things that put sales and marketing in conflict are economics and culture.

Economic issues stem from how businesses set revenue goals and allocate budget dollars. For most businesses, economic differences between sales and marketing fall into three key areas:

  • Pricing. At most companies, marketing is tasked with achieving overall revenue goals. To be efficient, marketers expect salespeople to generate the most revenue possible on each product or service sale. Salespeople typically have individual goals that are easier to achieve by selling products and services to more people or businesses at lower prices. This sets businesses up for internal conflict. Sales usually wins the pricing battle because they’re present when deals close and marketing doesn’t get a say on final prices.
  • Promotion. Marketing spends money to build awareness of — and interest in — a business’s products and services. Sales generally doesn’t understand the value of doing this. They believe compelling and convincing conversations are all it takes to close deals. Sales leadership typically prefers that marketing dollars go toward improving and expanding the sales team. Marketers generally win this fight because most C-suite executives appreciate the value of brand marketing.
  • Products and services. A company’s offerings are typically developed by marketers with little input from sales. This often produces products and services with features that don’t resonate with clients and prospects, making them difficult or impossible to sell. This disconnect often leads to the ultimate failure of many businesses.

The cultural differences between marketing and sales are typically more extreme than the economic ones. The two functions attract different types of people with diverse skill sets.

  • Marketers are generally analytical, data-oriented, project-focused and creative. Many have broad educations. They typically focus on longer-term goals and overall company success.
  • Salespeople are good communicators. They spend their time interacting with current clients and prospective ones. They’re skilled at building relationships and understanding the needs of others. Salespeople usually focus on the immediate future and on closing the NEXT deal.

Considering these differences, it’s easy to see why marketers and salespeople find it difficult to get along.

Unless businesses take steps to organize themselves around operating models that encourage these two groups to work together, they will likely fail.

The four most common types of organizing models are:

  • Undefined. Newer companies and smaller businesses typically have an undefined relationship between sales and marketing. The two groups have grown and developed independently of each other. Each focuses on accomplishing its own tasks and achieving its goals. They are unaware of what the other is up to until conflicts happen. People in sales and marketing only meet to resolve conflicts, not to be proactive.
  • Defined. Companies that define the relationship between sales and marketing typically develop processes, procedures, and rules to prevent disputes. The definition is built out of necessity, not vision. It’s a plus that marketers and salespeople know who is supposed to do what tasks. Communication is typically improved under this model. However, even though the two teams work together on big initiatives, there are still major differences between their day-to-day priorities and how they go about accomplishing them.
  • Aligned. When sales and marketing work in alignment, they maintain clear organizational boundaries, but the lines are more flexible and organic. The two teams usually participate in planning and training sessions together. The sales team typically understands the value of the tools and materials created by marketing because they’ve had a hand in developing them.
  • Fully integrated. In this model, the boundaries between sales and marketing become blurred or are eliminated completely. Both groups share organizational and reporting structures, systems, and align on compensation and rewards. Sales is involved in developing products and marketing campaigns and marketing personnel are assigned to key accounts. Budgets are more flexible and dollars are allocated to the best opportunities, no matter which group owns them. Most importantly, sales and marketing align on and track to the same set of metrics.

Clearly, full integration is the most effective model to structure your business around. Most companies only achieve it through trial and error with the other models. Jumping ahead and implementing it immediately will prevent conflict between sales and marketing, allowing marketers and salespeople to use their skills to the fullest to generate results for the business. It’s the surest way to succeed.

Tip: Investing in a sales enablement system like the one offered by Mobile Locker can help facilitate interactions between your sales and marketing teams.

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