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Sales vs. Marketing: Why Not Both?

Anyone who has worked in sales or marketing will be aware of the long-standing ‘tension’ between the two departments.

If you think about it, it’s obvious why. You could argue that it is the natural conclusion from having two business functions responsible for delivering the same thing: revenue. Both sales and marketing teams have responsibility for the journey that the customer takes; marketing creates the opportunities (leads) and sales turn those leads into business.

However, in the cut and thrust world of business, it is seldom that simple. Businesses set objectives, targets and KPIs and when those targets aren’t achieved, inevitably there is often ‘finger pointing’, where marketing blames sales for not closing the leads and sales blames marketing for not providing quality leads. Business has always viewed sales and marketing as discrete functions, which has naturally created a sense of competition.

But why?

We believe that bringing these departments closer together is the future. As we already know, they both have a common objective – to sell more – and by removing the type of siloed thinking that prevents teams from leveraging their best skills, is not only counterproductive but can be positively damaging.

Sales and marketing departments have existed in the same form for one hundred years, and for much of that time, have formed an efficient and effective alliance. Yet in the last twenty years or so, the internet has changed the dynamics of everything. Marketers use the internet because they run the website, use email marketing, buy PPC ads and create online campaigns, while sales departments use the internet to identify prospects, update information and gather industry and company insights… both departments are doing what they used to do but in a more modern way.

For example, when internal combustion was invented, companies decided to build cars rather than gasoline-powered horses that could pull wagons. Yet, you could argue that the current sales/marketing arrangement is rather like bolting-on a gasoline-powered horse. Although efficiency gains have been made, the basic framework and operation have remained unchanged.

This is where Smarketing comes in. We like to think of this as a future operating model for sales and marketing because it provides a clean-sheet model for how the two departments can operate together and drive better performance, including how they create content, gather insights, are structured and how they should be compensated.

This thinking is based on creating a successful co-dependent department (or departments) that leverage their natural skills to forge better, more efficient, working practices that achieve results. It is not about sweeping away these departments under the pretext that they are no longer relevant because they are and still provide a vital service to every business, but currently may not do so as well as in the past.

So why should organizations care about this? Why should the people in these departments care?

Because if we look at how technology has changed the landscape already, it’s nothing compared to what’s around the corner. AI? Machine Learning? VR? AR? The scope of change that these technologies will bring to how sales and marketing (and indeed every other department) interact in their roles, is far more significant than the changes the internet has itself wrought… and we all need to be ready.