Why sales hates marketing

Sonja Jefferson
Company Director
Valuable Content
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I started my working life in sales. If I’m honest, I was pretty rude about marketing back then. As a sales person for a consultancy firm I was frustrated that the information and tactics employed by the marketing department didn’t help me to generate leads at the coalface. Now, I may have had a bad first experience of marketing in a complex service business, but this frustration is something I hear again and again from the sales community.

I’m now in marketing (funny how life goes, isn’t it?). As a result of my early experience, my whole raison d’être is to create marketing collateral that makes selling easier: everything we do for our clients here at Valuable Content is to get them sales results. Still, I often ponder why sales people have such a low opinion of marketing, and what marketing can do to counter their frustration.

I had a bit of a revelation on this question this week. It came from a first-class business development workshop I sat in on, run by client David Tovey and his team at Pace Partners International. We shared some ideas on the sales vs. marketing dilemma. Here are a few of our thoughts:

  • Salespeople think that marketing is over-rated as a differentiator.
  • Salespeople know that they make the difference but feel under-valued as a differentiator.
  • Marketing teams tend to think of marketing in corporate terms: building brand awareness, high level PR, advertising.
  • Salespeople want collateral that helps them build relationships at the coalface: relevant and up-to-date case studies, thought-provoking content such as articles and research as conversation-openers or leave-behinds.
  • Marketing tends not to commit budget or time to giving sales what they want and need.

As David Tovey says:

“The marketing department sometimes think they are providing the sales team with enough by doing brochures/newsletters and other information promoting the company, product or brand. But this talks about ‘us’ not the customer. It is often all the sales team get in their kit bag.”

If this is the situation (and we’d welcome your views on whether we’ve hit the nail on the head), is it any wonder that sales hates marketing?

Simply put, the purpose of marketing is to get people who have a need for your kind of services to know, like and trust you so that they think of you first when the time comes to buy. Both corporate marketing teams and salespeople at the coalface of client contact have a role to play here.

Marketing departments must recognise this and invest in helping sales teams to create the valuable collateral they need to build trusted relationships for sales results. For both marketing and sales, more business is the goal.


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