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Marketing vs. Sales: It’s A Matter Of Trust


Last week I was speaking to Sue Hay, CEO of BeWhys Marketing, about Marketing and Sales and the animosity between the two groups.   I have worked in Sales the majority of my professional career and more times than not, found myself thinking: “This message is not resonating with my prospect”, “This is a terrible lead,” or “This prospect was never going to BUY!  What a WASTE of my time!” and finally,  “Marketing doesn’t understand my goals as a salesperson.” WHY?  Because it all comes down to the fact that these two groups have different goals for their organization and each thinks their prospective customer needs different things in order to buy.  This internal breakdown is clear: “I don’t TRUST you to deliver what I need to achieve MY goals.”  And it goes both ways.Sales versus Marketing, Trust, 9 12 Maegan 

I was working for a small medical device start-up, selling a product with a price tag upwards of $100K. Marketing and Sales would have conference calls together (for appearance of alignment) and the marketing VP would ask the sales reps what we were hearing for major objections out in the field.  Time after time, after TIME we all said the same thing, “The customers say it’s too expensive (for our targeted market) and prospective buyers need to see evidence of ROI! “ Don’t get me wrong the product was super cool, the latest technology, and that’s the positive response we received.  “Wow- that is amazing!!  I would LOVE to have that in my practice.”  And then came the “But, it’s a nice to have, not a NEED to have and it’s too expensive.  If you can’t show me what my Return on Investment looks like then I can’t take the risk.” This was honest customer feedback and our company was not providing our prospects with the information they NEEDED to make an informed buying decision.  Yet time and time again the response from Marketing was the same: “No, That can’t be it. That’s just a “smoke screen,” it must be something else.”

But, that WAS it. And thus, the cycle begins:  anger and resentment of the Sales Team at the Marketing Team because they were not hearing what we were saying, or rather they were not TRUSTING what we were saying.  Marketing felt Sales simply wasn’t doing a good job because, according to their research, the testing of messaging, the number of clicks and the tracking of key words, the metrics all showed that our customers responded to the collateral they had produced.  The fact that this is how they justify budget and the need for their skills, Sales simply must not be doing a good job conveying their brilliant message.

The thing is, in most organizations there is a clear battle between the two groups. Each one complains about the other because they don’t trust the other to get the job done. Here’s a clue: Marketing and Sales success are measured on different metrics!  Marketing are the people who are forming the companies’ image and messaging.  They are creating and executing campaigns in order to fill the sales pipeline with leads. They want credibility for this and they want more power. Because when times are tough, guess whose budget gets slashed first? 

Sales is measured on two things: How much revenue did you bring in and did you meet your goal?  Simple, right?  Well, simple if the leads they were “fed” by marketing were actually Qualified, Sales Ready opportunities and not just “leads.”  Sales does not trust Marketing because they feel Marketing does not do a good job of filling the pipeline with quality, aka “worth my time” opportunities.  Sales people have had enough meetings with prospects who just want to know “what the latest and greatest technology is,” or “I was at a conference and thought what you make is interesting,” or “I’m a grad student doing my thesis and your product fits right in to my theory and idea.”  Great- Fantastic.  Rarely does the sales person arrive to a fully qualified prospect that says “Yes, I have budget, I am very interested in your product, and I am looking to buy in the next 2-3 months.” 

So what happens?  Sales goes back to Marketing saying their leads are worthless, a waste of time and now have a hard time following up on the so called “leads” that Marketing hands over.  Marketing stands by their metrics and therefore thinks Sales are a bunch of spoiled brats who are not capable of conveying the organizations’ brand and product message.  Hello animosity!!Sales and Marketing Aligned, Sales Success, 9 12 Maegan 

However, what if there was a different way?  Could there be a world where the two groups actually trusted each other?  What if Marketing understood exactly what their sales people viewed as a “Sales Ready” opportunity and was empowered with that information?  What if Marketing could be specific in their messaging and qualifying metrics, and fill the sales pipeline with sales ready opportunities? What if the sales people were HAPPY with Marketing, because they trusted them to know what they need in a prospect?  What if Marketing was HAPPY because they were getting more budget, more power to execute more campaigns because they were yielding a healthy pipeline and forecast?  Could we create a Sales and Marketing Utopia? 

More organizations are seeing this need- and starting to combine the two groups.  The bottom line:  Sales and Marketing need each other.   Honest conversations have to happen so that there can be a common understanding of goals.   We all are scrambling for time nowadays and we need to be more efficient; getting as much accomplished as possible that will yield the largest return in the shortest amount of time.  Competition is fierce- and the more we can get Sales and Marketing in the same room, having open dialogue, defining goals TOGETHER, then, like any blossoming relationship  we will build trust and besides the occasional tiff, we can live happily ever after.


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About the Author   |   Maegan Kopka

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