I’ve been thinking about the relationship between Sales and Marketing quite a bit lately.  If ever there were two parts of a company that could work amazingly together it would be the big S and the big M.  Unfortunately, like the growing rate of marriages that end in divorce, there seems to be an increase in the friction between Sales and Marketing.

marketing-vs-sales-11I’ve probably experienced it long before I realized it, but the first time I encountered general mistrust between the two was during a job interview several years ago.  It was for  a marketing manager position at a software company.  Job interview? Interviews, I should say, as the company had me interview with the marketing director, followed by every single one of their sales directors.  Plural.  Lots.  Head spinning lots.  Even the director of European sales was in town!

But I like meeting new people, and am confident about what I know. So for me this felt like a head start on meeting my future ‘customer.’  It would be a great chance to evangelize all the amazing marketing strategies I would implement and with trumpets, unfurl this new thing called marketing automation.

I found it interesting that the style of the interviewer seemed to match their sales style.  I would imagine the high pressure interviewer closing like a monster at the end of the quarter.  Likewise the really friendly folks seemed to have the relationship sale nailed.  They were good people and I respected them.  And then one of them caught me by surprise.

“I think Sales and Marketing should hate each other.”  These were the words out of a sales director I was interviewing.  Over the course of our conversation, he related that the two departments always had and always would hate each other.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to get wrapped about the meaning of words.  I may hate bumper to bumper traffic in a Jeep Wrangler with no AC during a 90 degree heat spell.  But if you asked me if there was anyone I knew that I genuinely hated, it’d be hard to answer.  Like everyone, there are some people I don’t enjoy spending time with, some I’m angry with but hate? Strong word!

king_kong_vs_godzillaSo was this guy hot or cold with his choice of words? Is it great or shitty? Love or hate?  Great question!  I couldn’t tell you if he was pointing out general friction or really had a massive personal conflict with the current marketing director and or his craft.

Either way he raised my awareness about the potential for interdepartmental conflict, which is a big scarey sounding word, not all that different from global thermonuclear war.  That day forward I’d been given the heads up that not everything is rosey between Sales and Marketing.

What about you? Have you experienced any negative interactions between the two?

  • Tina Cheshire

    In my experience sales and marketing have MAJOR communication issues and could use some “couples counseling”! I too have never been able to wrap my head around the rivalry I’ve noticed between the two, almost as if they are both vying for the title of “teacher’s pet.” Sales (and therefore company success) cannot happen without marketing and marketing (as a practice) cannot move forward without proper implementation and support of sales, period. You’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head here; do you think they’ll ever be able to live and work in harmony and achieve true “wedded bliss?!”

  • Jim Lespasio

    Speaking as a Sales person, I believe it comes down to personalities.Each department has to rely on the other to be successful, yet each is typically populated with aggressive, type A personalities striving for success. In their quest to succeed, it’s very easy to make decisions that conflict with the efforts of their counterparts across the hall. ” I like you. I need you, but I may have to submarine you once in a while”. Solid leadership that builds trust and fosters true teamwork will keep everyone rowing the boat in the same direction.

  • Stephanie Kapera

    I think a change is gonna come…there’s a lot of talk about “Revenue Teams” and Sales and Marketing Alignment these days. It won’t be long before these things are the norm rather than just a trend.