When Sales is from Mars and Marketing is from Venus

When Sales is from Mars and Marketing is from Venus
Kate Headen Waddell - Wed Aug 05, 2009 @ 10:38AM
Comments: 20

MarsI have worked on retainer in the marketing departments of a few larger companies. I am usually brought on for a special project, or to ease the crunch of a new product release. On one of these occasions, there were no cubicles available in the marketing area, so I got assigned one a little further out, near the sales team.

Now, if you are reading this blog, you probably understand that sales and marketing are not the same thing, and are many times not even in the same building. But you may not realize that sometimes they might as well be on different planets.

What planet are you from?

As a marketer, of course I have marketing’s perspective on sales. It goes something like this:

  • “We create and maintain a full library of collateral but sales claims they can’t find what they need when they need it and so they never end up using any of it.”
  • “We spend a great deal of time crafting messaging and value propositions that the sales team seems to completely ignore.”
  • “It doesn’t matter what we put out in the product collateral, because sales will just go out and promise the customer whatever they want.”
  • “We put a lot of effort into lead gen strategies, but the sales team doesn’t seem to know how to handle warm prospects differently from cold ones.”

What I was blissfully unaware of, until the cubicle incident, was sales’ take on marketing:

  • “Marketing churns out reams of crap that they expect us to use, but there is too much to dig through, so I don’t bother.”
  • “All the ‘marketing speak’ turns off prospects and doesn’t relate to how I sell our products.”
  • “Marketing is totally out of touch with what the customer really wants and so I end up having to talk fast to close deals.”
  • “Marketing exists to give us leads. So why don’t they just go out and buy some more cold call lists?”

One tiny step for marketing…

I am not going to pretend to offer a simple solution to this complex problem. What I am going to suggest is a simple first step you can take to start bridging the communication gap. Early on in the collateral development process, tap a member of the sales team as a reviewer. Invite them to the kick-off meeting, and give them a chance to talk about what they have seen and heard in the trenches. Let them know that their input is invaluable to creating marketing materials they can feel confident about using in the field.

You may be totally surprised by their input and feedback, and it may take you out of your comfort zone (the sales guys I know don’t mince words or pull punches). But your marketing messages will be stronger and the sales team will be more likely to reach for them – after all, they helped write them.

Do you have any disconnects you’d like to share, or any tactics for bridging departmental gaps? Let us know in the comments.

Comments: 20


1. steve dodd  |  my website   |   Wed Aug 05, 2009 @ 11:40AM

Hi Kate, given what is happening in the market right now, you have hit on a key issue. What has traditionally been "Marketing VERSES Sales" needs to be "Marketing PLUS Sales". You've certainly identified a key point to encourage the two to become complimentary not adversarial. Another thought (and known huge pet peeve of sales people) is to get the language right. Define Marketing, Promotion,
Sales, Lead, Suspect, Prospect, Forecast and Pipeline so that as a group, the commonly understood terms get used and how each department operates. Once everyone is on the same page, it's amazing how much can be accomplished.

2. trish bertuzzi  |  my website   |   Wed Aug 05, 2009 @ 12:25PM

I blame the CEO for the disconnect between sales and marketing. They both report to him/her so sxxxt should roll uphill for a change. Fact: compensation drives behavior. Fact: the CEO writes the compensation plans for both the sales and the marketing executive. Fact: if their compensation plans were tied to a central goal and they shared responsibility for the success of each other, problem solved. So, I blame the CEO.

PS - Unless they are a Bridge Group client and then "I love you man...".

3. SEO  |  my website   |   Wed Aug 05, 2009 @ 02:14PM

I think that asking the sales people about what clients want is an excellent idea. I also think that customer service should have the same input. These people are with customers all day. With this information marketing and creative teams will be in a great position to deliver marketing strategies that connect with their audiences.

4. Kate Headen  |  my website   |   Thu Aug 06, 2009 @ 08:38AM

Thanks for all the insightful comments. I like the idea of including customer service in the conversation too!

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