Where does ‘Marketing’ end and ‘Sales’ begin?

I once was asked to participate in a roundtable of about 20 C-Suite execs where the subject was, “Where does ‘Marketing’ end and ‘Sales’ begin?” With me was a friend and excellent sales trainer. He went first and offered the traditional Lead Generation vs. Lead Closer model. Then it was my turn. I brought out the heavy guns, otherwise known as dictionaries.

Let’s begin with some definitions of marketing:

Oxford: “The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” And from Reference.com: “The act of buying or selling in a market. The total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.” Thus it’s clear, sales and the act of selling are marketing functions.

There is no point at which marketing ends and sales begins. Why is this important? Because too many businesses have choked the life-flow of their organizations by allowing this separation. It’s part semantics, part internal butt-covering and part lack of understanding of this important concept. Sales says they are failing for lack of leads. Marketing claims the sales people can’t close a door. Meanwhile, the company suffers because nothing is being sold.

Of course, the company shouldn’t have to “sell” anything.

If the company has a genuine, compelling and attractive competitive advantage, its product should sell itself. It should need Customer Experience Enhancers, not sales people. This should be the goal of every organization. Obviously for most companies, it cannot happen overnight. But greatness rarely does.

So what needs to happen?

  • Revisit, renew or redefine the purpose or “skopós” of the organization. Does the company actually have a genuine competitive advantage to begin with? What is the vision of the owner or the C-Suite? Is the team on board with it? Is the purpose and product aligned with a genuine need in the marketplace that no one else offers, that is relevant, compelling and attractive? If not, this needs to be addressed before the success transition can be made.
  • Reevaluate the entire team. Not just to see if they are on board with the vision but if they are capable of delivering it. Determine if the people in place are hard-wired for their current roles. You can train skills but you cannot train personality and motivation. Most companies have round pegs that are being asked to fit into square holes. There is a defined process for this analysis that is scientific, methodical, starts in the C-Suite and goes all the way to the intern. Make sure the team is capable of fulfilling their roles and delivering results within the company’s current strategy.
  • Find out why your biggest fans can’t live without you and your detractors prefer doing so.
  • Consider replacing your Marketing Director. Unless your Marketing Director has the skills and experience to manage a sales team and a customer service team (aka customer experience) in addition to marketing communications, advertising, PR and media, he or she is not qualified for the job of a real director of marketing. Marketing Coordinator, yes. Director no.
  • Eliminate the Sales Manager position. If you have a qualified Marketing Director, it’s redundant. And once you achieve competitive advantage, you don’t need a sales manager, you need a Customer Experience Manager because your advertising and communications strategy is delivering sales, not leads. It’s delivering people coming to you saying “I need that” instead of you making calls hoping for “Yeah, I’ll listen to your pitch.”

Think about the great compelling brands. They start with “why”, their people are the “how” and those two elements determine the “what.” There is no competition between marketing and sales because everyone is united in purpose and they are too busy filling orders.

Share This