The Movement to Marry Sales and Marketing

The impending nuptials can barely be held off. Companies everywhere are scrambling to get the chairs right, the aisle music pinpointed, and the reception speeches fine tuned. Plans for an elaborate fireworks show are being drawn up. This could be a   marriage for   the ages.

No this isn’t some political diatribe. I’m talking about the marriage between sales and marketing. You see, sales and marketing have traditionally been very eschewed from each other, and why not? They have both had different career goals, never communicated well, and lacked a certain degree of respect for what one another did in life. They operated on completely different wavelengths.

It’s time sales and marketing put the pettiness aside and begin focusing on what each other wants, define some common goals, and work towards the betterment of the establishment – the company  –  and grow together.

OK, you may have thought that was super cheese ball, but the metaphor fits. As technology shifts continue to impact the way businesses run, there has to be a change in paradigm as well in order to be successful in the long run. No longer can the marketing and sales forces responsible for driving a company’s success be on different   pages – it’s lunacy. But before we delve into what this marriage of sales and marketing looks like, let’s recap the status quo.

Sales – Pounding the Pavement

Sales teams within a company have often been seen as the lifeblood of success and revenue generators. The reason for this likely stems from the fact that the outcome for sales is an obvious one. Results = More Money in the Bank. While their processes may be a bit more enigmatic, the outcome is clear and easy to calculate.

Because of this, sales has traditionally held favor in the eyes of the decision makers, especially when the decision makers come from a hard sales background themselves. With this favor comes the unintentional (or intentional) perception of this department being somehow superior to marketing. At face value, this seems justified. While marketing tinkers with new toys and brand messaging, the sales guys take on the perceived grunt work of closing the sale. Perhaps this has been true for some organizations.

The 1992 cult classic Glengarry Glen Ross  illustrated this the best when Alec Baldwin went on his 5-minute motivational speech that nearly every sales person has had to watch  at some point. Although the message may seem over the top for many, it’s likely not far off from what some have experienced. At the very least,  there are some interesting points to gleam here.

Warning: Graphic Language


The first complaint you hear from one of the salesmen is ” the leads are weak.” Does that sound familiar? Alec shoots right back, “you’re weak!” The scene is hilarious, but the belief cultures a ‘do whatever it takes’ philosophy. This includes the hard sell, manipulation, pressure tactics, NLP techniques, and so on. Eventually, ‘who needs marketing’ becomes the mantra. A good sales team will close regardless of the quality of the leads or marketing efforts. While that may work for a while, it ultimately does not fit into a long-term strategy, and especially the sales cycle of just about any modern day business. Consumers have changed and so have buying habits.


Marketing –  Let’s Create Something Pretty

Traditional marketing efforts carry along their own baggage in the shape of this: While the process is very obvious, the outcome is not. It’s not uncommon in organizations, especially those on a tight marketing budget, to  view marketing as purely a necessary expense. Sort of like the electric bill, but even less transparent in terms of value.  It’s required to do business but what it’s really doing,  many within an organization are still unsure how to calculate it’s return. At least  this has been the traditional viewpoint.

The opening scene of the 1987 Thanksgiving classic,  Planes, Trains & Automobiles  paints a perfect satirical picture for how arbitrary   the marketing process could very well be in some cases.

In addition, most marketing has been positioned with  outbound  efforts. Starting with the radio, then to the first television commercial in 1941. Outbound consists of print, broadcast, direct mail, and telephone primarily. With all of these channels, as long as money was being made, the efforts could be justified.  With regards to calculating a more precise ROI for marketing spend, that has never been possible to a fine degree.

Finally, marketing has in times past revolved around a brand – the logo, slogan, and images associated with a company.  This long-held tradition meant that  the company itself could hide behind it’s marketing materials in the case that things went bad. Brands (and marketing) were a seemingly distant, far off entity, detached from the normalcy of everyday life and surrounded by uber-fabricated marketing materials that attempted to relate to the masses.


Butting Heads

As you can see, the mindset around each of these departments has been traditionally at odds. Different outcomes, goals, language, and self-perception have all lent a hand in this  great divide. Fortunately, though this attitude is changing.


Welcome to Smarketing

As we move further into the movement to marry sales and marketing, companies should be prepared for a paradigm shift in how these departments operate and interact. No longer shall they be on opposing ends of the battlefield, but the two shall become one…so to speak.

Critical to the success of this movement is a mental-shift from the top of the chain. All too often, we see the “fish stinking from the head-down” scenario. Executives and Presidents must get on board to change the status quo of the company in order to successfully move towards a unified sales and marketing, or  smarketing.

What you can expect:

  • Common sales goals for each department
    • Motivation must be on equal terms
  • Use the same lingo
  • Clearly defined lead definitions
    • Marketing qualified
    • Sales qualified
  • Buyer personas
  • Progressive Profiling

These are just some of the attributes that make up a successful marriage between sales and marketing, or smarketing. Ultimately, the above bullets will dictate how to properly position all of your marketing efforts (particularly when it comes to inbound marketing) and achieve unanimous success.

Are you ready to make the shift? Share in the comments section below.


Preston Zeller

I am an entrepreneur, digital marketer, and designer. Working in Digital Marketing for DiscoverOrg. I write about business, life hacks, and more.


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