Rewriting the Formula

“We’ve given you, like, a million leads!  You don’t follow up on any of them!”

“All the leads you give my team are crap!  We need good leads!”

The two lines above—or some variation—are probably the most often-used in the annals of Sales and Marketing interactions.  So who’s right?  Marketing people often think that Sales guys are lazy, knuckle-dragging order takers who couldn’t find a deal if it bit them on the nose.  Sales execs often think that Marketing folks are academic pukes who spend their lives second-guessing the Sales team but who couldn’t close a deal if their lives depended on it—and who are terrified of anything resembling accountability.  So who’s right?  Both are.  And neither are.

One of the challenges, I think, is that Sales has a more focused mission, or at least one that can be described more succinctly than Marketing’s: find a deal, close a deal.  Rinse.  Repeat.  I don’t want to imply that this mission isn’t tough, sometimes brutally tough; it‘s just focused.  And yes, there are differences between “hunters” and “farmers”, and “strategic account execs” and “telesales reps” but the objective is the same.  Reel ‘em in, sign ‘em, and on to the next.  And I say again, it’s really hard if you’re the one having to do it.

Marketing, on the other hand, is really an umbrella term for everything from public relations to collateral development to product strategy and roadmaps and a laundry list of other functions depending on the company and the industry.  But often the output of Marketing’s work effort, at least from the Sales team’s perspective, is a brochure or an opaque, long “201x Marketing Plan” document that is filled with jargon and directives.  “How does that help me close a deal?”, quoth the salesman.  “Good question”, says I.

What I propose to discuss in this blog—with your help, I hope—is the Sales/Marketing nexus.  How the groups could and should work together, and even explore if the current division between the functions even makes sense in today’s business world.  I want to talk about a shared vocabulary.  A shared accountability.  A common goal.  Something that can bring the teams together at more than the executive level.

Stay tuned.


  1. Nitin Khatri says:

    Great blog Alan Gold. These are issues that are hampering the cohesiveness that both teams should have in so many organizations. A good starting point would be to work them into the compensation model. Sales guys get paid when things are sold, and since they are so dependent on Marketing, there should be a tie in somewhere. We have all tried lead agencies and cold callers and pay them based on successful lead conversion – this, in my opinion, should be no different. Also, being in the front lines, sales folks are exposed to so much in an ever evolving environment and don’t always have the time or do the best job of filling in Marketing. We have to find a way to get them involved – hear from the front line. Customer appointments, stewardship meetings, etc. I’d love to get a solution on this, so if anyone posts a brilliant way, I would love to know! 🙂 Hope all is well!

    • Great points, Nitin. You’ve hit several of the nails on the head. I have always been an advocate for shared objectives and a more team-oriented approach for just those reasons you point out. I see the same issues between product management/marketing and sales as I do between marcoms, PR, and acquisition marketing. I will be sharing my thoughts on those soon! Thanks for engaging!

Speak Your Mind