Why Can’t They Just Get Along? (Sales and Marketing, That Is.)

  • Share
  • Sharebar
  • Share

An argument... by Tambako on Flickr

Why is it that, as a rule, Marketing and Sales work together so poorly? It should be clear that when two teams both work so intensively  with potential customers, their work should be highly coordinated. Nevertheless, this all too seldom is the case.

The Degrees of Separation

Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham and Suj Krishnaswamy, in their 2006 Harvard Business Review article titled Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing, outlined a basic classification for the nature of cooperation between the sales and marketing functions. The four stages were undefined, defined, aligned and integrated. But why are so few marketing and sales teams either aligned or integrated – or even having a defined relationship? Hasn’t it been shown time and again that when marketing and sales work as one, the sales cycles get shorter while market-entry costs and the cost of sales go down? Still, Sales and Marketing –  more often than not – exist as two separate organisational units and might even compete for the same funds for their budgets.  Ironically, the ultimate goal of both of these functions is to maximise profitable revenue for the company.

It’s a Different World, It Seems

To me this discrepancy between Sales and Marketing is no wonder, when you think about how different the relationships are that Marketing and Sales have with customers. Sales is dealing with customers one at the time, more synchronously and often face-to-face. Marketing, on the other hand, rarely even sees an actual live customer, Marketing’s relationships with potential customers are more one-to-many and asynchronous in nature. And these days an increasing number of Marketing’s customer interactions are initiated by the potential customers themselves over some digital medium such as the company website or blog. To top is off, the culture and what each of these teams are usually measured on are quite different.

Is True Cooperation Even Possible?

How do you fit together such two seemingly incompatible processes as traditional approaches to sales and marketing represent? The answer to that, in my opinion, is: you don’t. Not without re-engineering the interface between the two units. One way to do this, as the above mentioned HBR article recommends, is that Marketing have a tactical team that gets heavily involved in supporting sales in their efforts to close sales projects and who get measured with metrics similar to those applied to salespeople themselves.

I’m sure there are other ways and the best way to align and integrate Sales and Marketing in your company might depend on many factors such as your industry. But without a tactical process for marketing, which is also compatible with the sales process, this will be very difficult, if not impossible. Now, how many companies actually have such a process in place?

Leave a Reply