If Sales people are from Mars… are Marketing from Venus?

I met a new acquaintance today, Anthony. We’d met at a networking event and we got on. So today, we had a coffee to discuss how we could work together more effectively.

He’s spent a lifetime in the sales profession and now he’s keen to give something back. I’ve spent my lifetime in marketing strategy and ‘marcoms’ and am keen to do the same. We had a good chat about sales and marketing and how they should work together.

But that’s not the common experience. Sales and marketing are two sides of the business equation that often has a reputation for not getting on. Sales being thought of as all dynamic, driven and making money whereas marketing is considered to be slow, reflective and spending all the money sales has made. It looks like a marriage made in hell… but it doesn’t need to be this way.

Yes; marketing and sales have different day-to-day objectives. They may, if you talk to a psychologist, attract different types of personalities but ultimately, they are focused on the same goal – helping their own business attract, engage and then sell their products, services and professional expertise to as many companies as possible.

Theodore Levitt, in the early 60s, made a good observation in his famous Harvard Business Review article, “Marketing Myopia”.

Selling focuses on the needs of the seller; marketing on the needs of the buyer.

Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it."

Today, I think marketing needs to deliver even more and work really closely with sales. Winning in today’s business world is about creating, and then selling, value. It’s about understanding the customers’ business objectives and goals and how you, as a supplier, can make the customer an even more successful business.

To achieve that, you need people who work with the customers every day – the sales teams – to share information and knowledge into the business so that it can understand the customer need and then create a value proposition that supports it – that’s marketing’s core job. Together, it’s a win-win.

How do you do this? 

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of having the sales target as part of my remuneration package, because it shows marketing’s commitment to the sales challenge. In addition, I’d encourage marketer’s to go on sales visits to hear the objections first-hand and visit customers regularly to find out what they like (value!) about your company - increased revenues, reduced costs or even emotional benefits such as peace of mind or a chance to make a big difference. 

In return, I'd target sales people to support the creation of testimonials and case studies that demonstrate value as well as putting regular marketing engagement as part of the sales person’s personal objectives.

The key to success, as Anthony and I agreed, is that sales and marketing need to understand the strategy of the business clearly and their different roles in achieving success. Only by working together can customers be truly delighted… and that’s what Anthony and I plan to do!