For as long as I can remember, there has been a quiet, consistent, and apparently immutable lack of understanding and appreciation between sales and marketing.
Oh, we like to pretend that this tension is much ado about nothing. We talk about the partnership between the two areas. We talk about collaboration between them and develop systems and software to foster that very necessary collaboration. We even try melding them into one, hopefully, dynamic team by putting them under a VP – Sales & Marketing.
But, at the end of the day, it still remains a tense relationship. The differences between the two areas remain profound. And both sides feel under-appreciated – and resentful of this lack of appreciation for their efforts.
Sales needs to meet its quotas every quarter. There is no flexibility. The survival of the firm depends upon it. Sales hasn’t got time for the soft stuff that preoccupies marketing, things like messaging, branding, positioning, etc. If it doesn’t lead to an immediate closed sale, a purchase order, it just doesn’t matter.
Marketing, on the other hand, worries about engaging customers and prospects in conversations. It studies demographics, searching for the keys that will resonate with the company’s audience. It follows trends, techniques, and social media platforms, looking for the best ways to find and reach out to prospects. Essentially, marketing sees its job as softening up the market for sales and as looking past this quarter to where the next sales opportunities will be, where the long-term future of the company will be.
Sales is from Mars. Mars is the god of war. And going into the marketplace each day is, indeed, like marching into battle. You are either victorious, coming back with a purchase order, or you are not. There is very little ambiguity. True, some sales cycles are longer than others. But at the end of the day, you’ve either made the sale or you haven’t.
Marketing is from Venus. Venus is a different kind of goddess. Venus demands patience, consistency, understanding, and time. Skillful marketing practices the art of seduction. Marketing works over time to make the company’s audience see the company and its products/services as special and worthy of a long-term relationship. Marketing lives in the present but looks to the future, a future where customers return and loyalty results.
Let me be clear here. I am not talking about a gender issue. We all know women who excel at sales and men who are marketing masters.
What I am saying is that there are two approaches to the marketplace and generating revenues, and that they are not only both valid, but both are essential to the ultimate well-being of the enterprise. One is more aggressive. One is more subtle, a soft-sell, if you will.
Business, in general, is more comfortable with the aggressive approach. CEOs like to see themselves as tough-minded individuals, generals leading their troops to marketplace victory. Here Mars rules.
But there is a place for Venus, too. Venus is the company’s goddess of the future. She’s the one who nurtures the customers, smoothing the path for sales to continue closing its customer conquests.
Every person embodies both Mars and Venus. The creative tension between the two defines character and personality. But it is an understanding and appreciation of that tension that defines an individual’s health and success.
So, too, with corporations. The dynamic tension between sales and marketing will, I think, always be with us. But it is the understanding and appreciation for the ultimate intellectual and emotional source of that tension that can define, and impel, true partnership, collaboration, and – ultimately – greater business success.