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Blog #85 If Marketing Says It’s So, It Must Be So…


Most any B2B sales professional looking at the above cartoon will end up with a wry grin on their face; let me explain.

While there has always been somewhat of a schism between sales and marketing; there, I said it, now it’s out there, the eight hundred pound gorilla,   the advancement of technology has only helped to feed this dysfunctional relationship.

In order to understand this dynamic, we first need to start with the basic differences between sales and marketing.

Marketing people are not sales people. They aren’t trained in sales, they are not experienced in sales and generally speaking, they’ve never made a sales call or sales presentation, let alone actually closed a sale.

Conversely, sales people are not marketing people. Marketing can be a complex process that most often takes place behind the scene or in advance of the client purchasing the product or service. It’s a skill and expertise that requires a different kind of training, experience, and in depth knowledge in order to be practised at the senior level.

While most “marketers” are well respected, that same level of respect isn’t always attributed to the sales professional.

You can get an advanced degree in marketing. You can even earn a PhD in this very same subject. Think about it, Doctor of Marketing. Unfortunately, the same credentials are woefully unavailable to the sales professional, and with that no access to the vaulted status those credentials afford.

Sure, you can get an MBA, but anyone who has one will tell you that there is very little in the way of “sales”, or the practice of sales in the course curriculum.

In the real world, in a real company, time and again many other departments in these organizations trivialize the function of sales, frequently over simplifying and grasping very little of the true complexity of the selling process.

Marketing departments sometimes weigh in on “what’s wrong with the sales strategy”, but these same people oftentimes lack the sufficient wisdom and insight in sales, only possible from having an expert grasp of it in order to truly understand the complexity of the sales function.

Marketers are not sales experts.

So where does this all lead? It leads to the ever more popular fairy-tale, largely propagated by the marketing community that they know more about selling,  that more and more clients are selecting, deciding on, and making the final decision to purchase a product or service on-line.

In today’s world, a world where with increasing regularity sales people are being promised a point and click solution for everything from finding a new customer to closing the sale, the traditional value and role of the sales person could become subordinated to a behind the scenes “account manager” role, but in fact, nothing could be more misguided.

While there’s no question that clients and customers spend significantly more time on-line sussing out and pondering various offerings, in the B2B world, particularly where a significant transaction is involved, the final stages of a purchase can only be made with and through a person; a sales person.

Marketing can point you in the right direction. They can warm up your audience, give you information and materials to assist the selling process, but they can neither tell the company how to make the sale, let alone make the sale themselves.

Marketers, using research, can offer a general understanding of who the customer is, what they might be inclined to buy, and in many cases how much they may buy. But they can’t offer the detail, nuance, and necessary personal context critical to the end game of making the sale. There’s only one person that can do that, and it’s a sales person.

In a world where everybody is looking for an easier way to make a sale, it can become more than tempting to drink the new juice that is promised to replace the traditional Kool Aid, but experience tells us otherwise.

There is no reliable data to support (again, where significant B2B sales are transacted) the claim of an effective “point and click” solution to making a sale. Furthermore, there are no better experts on the subject of making that sale within any organization than the sales professionals themselves.

My advice? Leave marketing to the marketers, finance to the finance people and sales to those who truly understand it.

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