Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sales vs Marketing vs Sanity

It’s well documented to the point of cliché within the B2B blogosphere that sales and marketing rarely see eye-to-eye. Sales thinks marketers are a bunch of geeks and glamour snobs with no clue what it’s like in the trenches. Marketing thinks sales people are lazy and overpaid with no appreciation for the work done to create opportunities on their behalf. As strictly a sales pro to this point in my career, I’d like to think I’ve extended the olive branch of mutual appreciation in my day, but I’ve certainly had my ‘those dweebs just don’t get it’ moments. Now I’ve started a new venture wearing both hats, and…it’s more of the same. Sales and marketing still don’t understand each other. 

The goal of marketing is pretty simple: Touch as many hearts and eyeballs as possible. Sales too: Bring in the maximum amount of dollars.The more hearts and eyes marketing can touch, the more deals sales can bring in the door. This makes sense for agreeing with each other in a vacuum, but the nuances of each role are surprisingly contradictory.  

When I’m wearing my marketing hat, I meticulously craft my company’s message to convey a specific feeling. I focus on a singular mental image that plays on an emotional reaction I imagine a hypothetic buyer might need triggered to connect with my company. Even small changes to the gameplan require lengthy contemplation.

My sales hat is more ballcap and less fedora. Decisions are made from the hip because there’s simply no time to over-think the absolute of necessity. Time is not a luxury afforded to the salesman one step away from a meal on the table. Hit or miss, a shot must be fired. 

Ok, so let’s revise. Marketing is planning for the big picture. Sales is reacting to the immediate needs. 

Now it all makes sense. The two sides - despite working towards the same goal - tend not to appreciate each other’s efforts because their decision-making processes are so different. It’s not likely that you’d take the exact same shot given a few seconds to aim as one where you were given hours, but it’s also unclear which would be better. Are you more likely to make the perfect shot given an eternity to consider its trajectory or only a moment with a launch and a prayer?

The cerebral approach to marketing is a result on having time, for better or worse, whereas sales decisions are made with less consideration by necessity. Marketing is a thinking man’s game. Sales is for gunslingers. Anyone with time to think about it gunslinging will surely see that it’s a dangerous game, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a bullet scarred veteran with sympathy for sideline puffery.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if there’s no time for soldiers to think in a gun fight and no sense being callous in the war room, then I’ll have to appreciate the separate decision making processes for what they are – separate – and not expect them to align.

My new mantra:
Sell fast.
Market slow.
Make it last.
Go go go.