Sales and marketing problems are four words that can weaken the morale of a leader.

Understanding the difference between sales and marketing goes a long way to solving the conflict between them.

This must be done before the question “how should sales and marketing work together?” can be answered.

Marketing and Sales Definition

Salespeople are the performers in a Broadway musical, whereas marketing people are the set designers, producers, and choreographers. 

On the surface, the two may present as a ‘selling vs. marketing’ schema with an intense rivalry over who is responsible for the show’s success. There is a belief among marketing professionals that Marketing puts the show together without a nod of the head or clap of the hand; sales then take the reins and earn all the applause. 

However, this imbalanced view glosses over the meaningful difference between sales & marketing and altogether ignores that the two entities can work together harmoniously with just a wee bit of effort to produce an excellent revenue orchestra for an organization.

Why do sales and marketing hate each other?

Research shows that companies with strong sales and marketing alignment enjoy a 20% annual growth rate. On the other hand, companies that struggle with this alignment face a 4% decline in revenue. Studies show that a failure to build the relationship between sales and marketing departments around the right processes and technologies may cost B2B companies 10% or more. The numbers above make it annually. 

When surveyed, Sales identified the following expectations from Marketing: 

stats on what sales expects from marketing

Similarly, Marketing respondents identified the following critical expectations/needs from sales: 

stats on what marketing expects from sales
graph on sales and marketing expectations
graph on sales and marketing expectations

Looking at the numbers above, it becomes clear that marketing and sales can achieve so much more if both functions work together rather than independently.

READ ALSO: Best Tips For Mitigating The Relationship Between Sales And Marketing

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

In practice, the difference between the two boils down to their respective roles in the sales pipeline. While the marketing forces do everything possible to reach and persuade prospective customers, the sales forces do everything possible to close the sale and garner a signed contract or signed check.

Marketing validates the extensiveness of the customer base and how to build connections. The response received from sales is vital to marketing as it feeds into a constantly changing strategic development. Meanwhile, Sales do not occur mystically; it results from an effective marketing effort combined with an effective sales process.

To return to the musical theater analogy, marketing involves behind-the-scenes work, such as viral marketing, branding, relationship marketing, advertising, and direct mail campaigning. They are the stagehands that embody the “Lights! Camera!” phrases, wherein the sales team are the actors that initiate the “Action!” portion of that phrase. 

Sales involve direct one-on-one meetings, cold calls, and networking. 

Consequently, because people buy emotionally and justify their decisions intellectually, sales teams’ tactics to convert leads into sales remain consistent year after year. Whereas the tactics that marketing teams use must change and evolve year after year.

Some Distinguishing Features of Marketing and Sales

To understand these two growth pillars of any organization, one must first have explicit knowledge of some key features that distinguish them.

In general, Marketers create awareness concerning a brand, product, or service, which consumers may not be conscious of, by emphasizing its problems and the value. At the same time, a sale is a transaction between two parties whereby in exchange for money and or Economic Value, products or services are transferred from the seller to the buyer. 

Because marketing involves implementing a skillful, predetermined set of actions designed to create awareness that engages potential buyers and encourages them to buy (i.e., leading to sales), sales depend on marketing effectiveness. Without good marketing, sales will often not have a prospect to sell to.

In terms of strategy, Marketing uses a technique that discovers the impending needs of target prospects and constructs a varied approach, usually across multiple advertising platforms. In contrast, Sales uses relationship-building to determine the prospect’s specific “pain points” and then offer services and products to eliminate that pain. 

In line with this technique, marketing operates from a broad outlook in terms of the company’s unique selling proposition, supply, and pricing to meet the continuing and varying needs of prospects while 

Sales employ a narrow view of supply and demand, asking questions like “Is it possible to meet the demand?” and “If so, how many sales can we make?”.

Marketing processes are generally studied to determine the market’s scope, competition, supply opportunities, price facts, and budget requirements, deciding on advertising and marketing platforms, and launching viable campaigns. 

On the other hand, Sales typically involves personal interaction in person, over the phone, or via screen share sessions.

Why sales and marketing should be separate?

The Way Forward

Sales and marketing alignment is critical for improved revenue production, margin increases, company growth, customer centricity, and even competitive advantage.

Building a sales and marketing revenue partnership involves many elements. Here are three steps to get you started; 

1. Get marketing educated on all things sales. Have them attend sales training and all sales meetings and events. Have them sit with the sales team. Part of the training could be having them do a 6-week rotation in sales. Similarly, sales must equally be educated on the importance of marketing and organization branding and leverage this in sales operations/activities. This is because, in reality, you can’t partner if you don’t know what your partner does.

2. Ensure marketing has the right technical architecture and integrations for attribution and contribution. The average number of systems owned by marketing is around 20. What is vital is to have suitable systems and to have them adequately integrated.

3. Leaders need to educate sales and marketing teams on new ways to create revenue in the digital economy. If anyone doesn’t get it, there needs to be a decisive action from leadership.