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I’m a bit weird in that during my career I’ve spent several years in both marketing and sales (and studied marketing at Wharton but now “eat and drink” sales). My take away from being on both sides of the departmental divide is that this is a problem we have created for ourselves – it’s not a fundamental one.
The problem usually starts when a growing company appoints its first head of marketing (if it has a head of sales) or its first head of sales (if it has a head of marketing). As soon as that happens it opens up the possibility of departments not being aligned.
To me sales and marketing are just different parts of the same function. The point for a business is to generate leads and close deals. Who cares who does that? As a CEO, I certainly don’t, as long as we close deals then the accountant could do it as far as I’m concerned.
The biggest real divide I have seen between sales and marketing people is that sales people think everything can be done on the telephone and marketing people will use any mechanism possible before calling a prospect themselves. This is a bit of a strange differentiation in jobs isn’t it?
As we move into a “Sales 2.0 world”, we sales people are starting to be armed with the more advanced tools we need to deal with ever more difficult-to-reach buyers. But as we start to use these tools look what’s happening: sales people are sending their own mass email (e.g. Sales Genius) and grabbing their own contact lists (e.g. Jigsaw), so sales people are doing the same thing as marketing people.
As Sales 2.0 picks up, sales and marketing departments are going to look more-and-more alike. Maybe the big change will come when the first marketing person makes a cold call – a bit like the opening scene from the movie “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. (By the way, please, email me if you know what the end of that movie means I’m still trying to figure it out).