Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Sales vs. Marketing – Who Wins?

Posted by Becky Carroll on July 12, 2007

tug-of-war.jpg Many companies have an unspoken war going on between sales and marketing.  Sales complains because marketing doesn’t bring them any good leads.  Marketing complains they feel like second-class citizens, and why doesn’t sales ever follow-up on all the great leads they give them?   Who wins this war?  No one.  Who loses?  The customer, and the company.

When I headed up B2B marketing for a large high-tech company in the UK, sales and marketing were supposed to collaborate but instead kept complaining about each other. After I spent time talking one-on-one with the sales managers, some sales reps, and the members of my marketing team, I broke down the walls. I assigned one marketing person to each sales district to become fully ingrained with the sales team. They were to eat, sleep, and go on customer visits with them to better learn how to meet their needs.

After several months, these marketers were seen as integral parts of the sales teams. They were invited to off-site sales meetings and asked for their ideas.  They were invited to sales Christmas parties and were treated as “one of the boys”.  They basically became an extended part of the sales team.  We ended up beating quota that year for the first time in quite awhile – as a joint team.

Customers want to be approached by such a team.  They don’t want to be in the middle of a war.  Valeria Maltoni asked recently, who owns the customer?   In my opinion, no one at the company owns the customer.  The customers own themselves.  They are in charge of whether or not they continue to purchase.  They are in charge of the relationship, if any.

In that case, it is imperative that sales and marketing work together.  The goal is to understand the customer so deeply that everyone wins: sales+marketing and the customer.  Only then will a relationship have any chance of taking hold and growing to meet the needs of both company and customer.

Thanks to Lewis Green for getting me going on breaking down the walls of departmental thinking.

(Photo credit: nruboc)


14 Responses to “Sales vs. Marketing – Who Wins?”

  1. Good post Becky. Those of us motivated to break down the walls and to create businesses based on shared responsibility and just good old sharing, need to continue writing on this subject.

  2. […] Becky Carroll over at Customers Rock! takes a moment to offer a quick (and needed) reality check on the war between sales and marketing. […]

  3. I worked in the gap between sales & marketing for over 15 years, helping B2B companies successfully launch new products/services into the marketplace. Both groups were well-intentioned, but their lack of communications created virtually ensured that their new offering would be slow to take off.

    I’ve written a number of articles on this topic that your readers might find useful. Here’s the link: .

    Make sure to scroll to the bottom to find the articles on JumpStarting New Products/Services. But also check out anything related to Value Propositions.

    Jill Konrath
    Author, Selling to Big Companies

  4. I’m glad that you came to this conclusion Becky. Marketing and sales certainly share a synergistic relationship and must work together in order for companies to grow. I appreciate Jill’s comment too, as I have personally witnessed this lack of communication myself. Sales and marketing sometimes feel at odds with each other, but they must learn to work together. Good post!

  5. Lewis, a business based on shared responsibility makes the most sense. Unfortunately, so many businesses look to the short-term and operate in “silo thinking” that they can’t pull together for the customer.

  6. Jill, I agree that open communication is key to a successful product/service launch. I might add that includes communication with the call center, who more often than not is forgotten. Customers call in on something new, and the call center sometimes is unaware of the launch.

    Thank you also for sharing your resources.

  7. Daniel, thank you for the compliment! It is amazing how adversarial sales and marketing are in some companies. The customer doesn’t care – they just want to have their needs met.

    Thanks again!

  8. Jay Ehret said

    The ages old battle between marketing and sales thrives because each department has a different purpose. Marketing is to come up with cool and creative marketing ideas (or create leads), sales is supposed to sell stuff. Neither department is directly compensated for the real purpose of the business: to serve the customer.

    All wars have a flashpoint, sales vs. marketing began at the top of the business. A truce may be achieved if CEO’s and owners would take time to identify and articulate what Michael Gerber calls the ‘Primary Aim,’ and then build business strategy around that aim.

  9. […] they should work together seamlessly, sales and marketing departments often end up in adversarial relationships. Guess who usually wins?  That’s […]

  10. […] a more strategic role in their marketing by putting customers first. She recently posted on the endless tug of war between sales and marketing that ends up with each blaming the other, and no one winning (least of all the […]

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  12. […] a more strategic role in their marketing by putting customers first. She recently posted on the endless tug of war between sales and marketing that ends up with each blaming the other, and no one winning (least of all the […]

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