15 Years ago, I sat in the office of the then Silicon Graphics State Manager for Queensland, Mal Walker, and commenced a discussion with him to gain his support for the Information Technology and Telecommunications Awards. Basically, I needed a dollar value sponsorship for the privilege of Silicon Graphics presenting an award and gaining invaluable exposure in the IT industry.

He said, "So you have come here to sell to me!". I was mortified! I don't sell, I market! I was simply presenting an opportunity for Silicon Graphics to market themselves to the IT industry in Queensland and to gain profile. Then, my job was to ensure that they received the publicity and profile that is commensurate with their dollar value sponsorship.

"No, I have come here to provide Silicon Graphics with a marketing opportunity. I am a marketer - not a sales person," I said defensively.

"What's the difference between sales and marketing," he said.

"Quite simply, marketing provides the forum for sales to occur!"

And it was as simple as that... another clash on what is the value of marketing when it comes to achieving sales. Are all marketers really sales people?

Improving marketing and sales alignment is an age-old challenge. It is the cause for much frustration not only between sales and marketing teams, but also for senior management who often get caught in the cross-fire and find that the results they are looking for don't come into fruition. Sales and marketing just don't talk - they clash. They HATE each other. Marketing sits in a pod of snobbery sitting behind their degrees and ability to build a brand, while Sales knows that without them, marketing doesn't have a job. It's like the chicken and the egg.

Ways to improve marketing and sales alignment in your small business.

1. Ensure better understanding of each departments work and what they need to do to reach company KPI's
2. Get buy-in from sales when marketing campaigns are developed
3. Set up workshop's with both parties prior to any new campaign to get valuable feedback, input and required outcomes
4. Ensure that the timing is right for campaigns and that each understand the basic fundamental of how marketing and sales 'think'. Marketing is looking for "Mr Right" and Sales is looking for "Mr Right Now".
5. Define what a lead is, as one of the big issues that Sales face is that they feel that they are continually passed on 'bad leads' which waste their time.
6. Better communicate the benefits of CRM programs (technology) to ensure that Sales has a greater 'buy-in' to what technology platform best suits the needs of the organisation
7. Make marketing content more relevant. They say 80% of marketing content is never used by sales.
8. Conduct regular feedback sessions and document it.
9. Ensure that every person in the equation is focused on outcomes not deliverables.
10. Get your marketing team to be 'sales people' for a day and vice-versa. A new found appreciation will occur in an instant!

It's always challenging to understand the Mexican stand-off that Sales and Marketing continually have, but as we all know, without either party, we don't have a business. Keep the communications open and provide platforms for both teams to appreciate the work that the other does.

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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.


  • Salli

    Having experienced this marketing/sales clash first-hand, I couldn't agree more with your post. The equation becomes even more unpleasant if senior management does not see the value of marketing and thinks it is basically re-branded selling!

    In addition to the differences of marketing and sales in their strategies to influence people, I also think the people who work in these two areas tend to be different in their personalities. Therefore the idea of exchanging roles for a day is a marvelous idea. Nothing better to make everyone appreciate each other's input.

  • Marlon

    Marketing is strategy, selling is the strategy working.

    All entrepreneurs want is to make them work together. Those advices worth gold nowadays.

  • Meyry

    That's true. Marketing and sales have been a classic topic. Many people always think marketing and sales are the same thing. Well, actually they are not the same. But as you said, they have to work together to achieve company's goal. I agree with your statement "Marketing is looking for "Mr Right" and Sales is looking for "Mr Right Now". That's really good point and simple definition to distinguish between those two.

  • Laura

    Especially the role changing part is very useful for empathising! Definitely a good thing to let two different departments work together.

  • Claire

    Great advice and food for thought,
    I can definitely see how improved communications and an attempt to build an understanding of the benefits that both parties bring to the table can help to bridge the gap between marketing and sales, leading to better business results!

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