Skip to content
All posts

Does the Right Hand Know What the Left Hand Is Doing?

It doesn’t have to be this way. The tension between sales and marketing isn’t necessary. Organizations don’t have to expect or accept that sales and marketing will always be at odds with one another inside their symbiotic relationship.

When sales and marketing embrace their interdependence, both can thrive. Doing that, however, requires a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities, mutual respect, and understanding.

Many companies have blurred the lines between marketing and selling. That confusion causes conflict and compromises the effectiveness of both functions. In its purest forms, the divide would look something like this:

  • Marketing focuses on the product, the placement, the position and the promotion.
  • Selling builds on the marketing efforts to put the product directly into the hands of buyers

What that means, then, is that sellers do not

  • Design, modify or enhance products
  • Create messages, tag lines, logos or branding strategies for products they sell
  • Decide who the target market will be for a product
  • Publicize special offers, discount prices, or bundle products together.

Some sellers who are reading this are adamantly disagreeing with those bullet points. Just because you have done these things doesn’t mean (in the purists’ point of view) that you should be doing these things.

Here’s the flip side. Separating these two functions would mean that marketers would not do these things:

  •  Customize presentations to help close a sale
  • Accompany sales reps on sales calls
  • Send leads to the sales team
  • Set sales targets

Again, some sellers are incensed to read that marketing should not be engaged in these ways.  And again, I’m offering a purists perspective. The reason it’s important to first be clear about who does what is that, without clarity, the risk is that no one does a critical function well. Here’s an example:

In many sales organization with multiple and rotating products, it’s common for the marketing department to produce informational fliers or “one sheets.” These fliers list the basic information about the product, including size, add-ons that are available, price, availability, deadline, and how to buy. The line blurs when sellers think of these presentation pieces as selling tools. They are not effective as selling tools. Instead, these are marketing tools, designed to inform and increase a buyers awareness of the product. Sellers who don’t understand this over-rely on these fliers and expect them to stand alone. They mass-mail or e-mail these fliers in an effort to “sell” efficiently. When they follow up, they ask “did you see the flier?” and “what do you think?”

What’s missing, of course, is the actual selling. Marketing cannot put benefits on these generic fliers because they are not speaking to an actual customer. Sellers have to translate the features on the flier into personalized and relevant benefits. They have to create interest, and desire on top of the awareness generated by the fliers. Only then can a seller expect a buyer to take action.

The same thing happens when marketing produces PowerPoint presentations, videos, or any other promotional material.

Because lines like this get blurred, organizations struggle to cover all the bases. Then they wonder why the marketing materials are ineffective. Finger-pointing ensues.

Most marketers will tell you that the materials they produce do include benefits. That is indicative of the widespread misunderstanding of how to distinguish a feature from a benefit.  It is simply not possible to state a benefit in a mass reach medium. The best you can do is imply a benefit… And that will be based on an assumption about the prospect’s needs.

This is why we need sellers who sell and marketers who market. It’s important to develop and promote products that are desired in the marketplace. But even the very best products need sellers who will help buyers understand what the product can do for them, individually.

The CONNECT2Sell Blog has been discontinued as our focus has shifted to leadership at every level. Research with buyers demonstrates that buyers respond favorably when sellers show up as leaders. If you'd like to step into your full potential as a leader (and boost sales!), take a look at our free and affordable courses on