Musings of a Not-So-Mad Woman in Marketing: Chapter Two

January 28, 2015

Marketing Is From Venus, Sales Are From Mars

This post is part of a series. Catch up with chapter one.

Will Sales and Marketing ever stop squabbling?

Of all the great and seemingly endless conflicts in history, there is one that has always struck me as the most pointless of all: the epic struggle between the Marketing and Sales functions of otherwise rational and successful companies.

In fact, I’ve been asked more than once to explain the difference – and the bitter differences - between these two warring tribes; yet no matter how eloquently I expound on the theme of brand reputation versus a focus on the bottom line, the follow-up question is always going to be: “But aren’t they both really doing the same job?”

And while in the past I have tended to disagree with such an obviously uninformed question; often sighing heavily and adopting a sympathetic expression before reframing my expert explanation into a Janet and John version, I have recently come to realise that this simplistic world view is rapidly becoming the reality.

Marketing Is From Venus, Sales Are From Mars

Traditionally, Marketing people could afford to take the long view, talking at length about brand ownership, brand building and brand reputation, on the assumption that if these were looked after, sales would look after themselves.

Sales people, on the other hand, have always had to worry about their sales figures on a monthly, weekly, daily, and, in the very direst cases, hourly basis. So it’s easy to see why these two disparate functions would often be at war, despite the fact that the bottom line ultimately reflects on both parties.

Yet with traditional marketing channels losing both power and credibility, and channels with a quantifiable ROI coming increasingly to the fore, it seems to me that the traditional differences between Sales and Marketing are not only narrowing: they are on the verge of extinction.

Millennial Marketing And Social Media Sales

As I pointed out in the first part of this series, a whole new generation of millennials are taking over the marketing landscape. Yet a corollary of that is that a new generation will ultimately assume responsibility for the sales function too.

This doesn’t simply mean that a whole tradition of marketing speak and sales techniques is about to be swept away: it also means that the more collaborative nature of the millennial generation is set to make marketing and sales more cohesive and focused than ever before.

After all, even in the B2B arena, marketing has already become more personalised and reactive than in the past: creating a marketing landscape where marketing directors have to listen to consumers and engage with them, rather than telling them they can have any colour they like as long as it’s black.

All of which, it seems to me, plays to the strengths of the sales function, where interactions have always been far more about one to one than one to many.

So What Are We Going To Call The New Department?

It goes without saying that in more archaic industries, marketing and sales will probably continue to coexist – albeit not very peacefully – for another decade or so. Yet, in many businesses, the line between marketing and sales is already becoming increasingly blurred, if only because advanced metrics and quantifiable ROI mean that marketing departments can no longer kid themselves – or anybody else – about the effectiveness of their efforts, and have to worry about the bottom line more often than ever before

In my humble(ish) opinion, the war is nearly over - and everybody won. From what I can see, far from being a defeat for either department, these two warring functions are having to finally acknowledge what my less marketing-savvy friends knew all along: that sales and marketing are one and the same thing.

The big question, apart from what on earth we’re going to call this new super-department (Slarketing? Males?) is this: who’s going to sit down with those nice people in sales and marketing and tell them that they’re now officially on the same side…


Jessica Ellis - Business Development Director

This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse