The rock star partnership of marketing and sales

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, image © Lynn Goldsmith, 1975

I recently had a conversation with someone who told me that they, quite frankly, didn’t think that any of the marketing activity I did had any impact whatsoever on sales.  (Don’t worry, this wasn’t someone from Learning Pool).

So, after marvelling at the complete lack of appreciation of how to sell and nuturing a slightly bruised ego, I started wondering about the different roles that sales and marketing teams have to play.

I’d never had cause to question this before,  having been fortunate enough to work with people who were either too polite to question the point of my work or who understand and value the role that marketing plays in a business.

How do the best marketing and sales people work in practice?  Or are they best kept apart for fear of damaging sensitive egos?

Just what are the different roles of sales and marketing teams?  And can you ever (whisper it) cut through the fluff of marketing and go straight to sales?

Here’s what I think marketing does:

  • develop the brand and messages
  • identify the target market and reach out to them
  • create the noise to get the company/product/service noticed
  • create engagement oppportunities, eg webinars, seminars, e-books, too3kits etc
  • generate good quality prospects

And here’s what I think sales does:

  • pick up those good quality prospects
  • nuture the one to one relationship
  • help the prospect to make the business case to buy
  • present, pitch, negotiate
  • close the sale!

So is it true that Sales teams are only interested in money and Marketing teams prefer pretty designs over tables of stats?

Maybe, in some companies.

The reality is that successful companies treat their sales and marketing teams as the opposite sides of the same coin.  Each team has an equally important job to do and one can’t exist without the other.

It’s marketing’s job to lay the ground work, set the stage and provide support to the sales teams who can then go forth and do their thing.

In the same way that the best rock star partners work together, feed off each other and produce something ultimately more fantastic* than if they were just performing on their own, so too do the best sales and marketing partnerships perform.

Just like Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

*no disrespect intended to Mr Plant’s illustrious solo career, not least his latest work with the wonderful Band of Joy.

Has anyone ever insulted your chosen career path or shown a complete lack of understanding about what you do?  I’d love to hear your stories, please share in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “The rock star partnership of marketing and sales”

  1. Absolutely fantastic post, Janet. I think the problem is there is so many different aspects of marketing that people get confused about what it’s core purpose is. There’s so much confusion. I’ve seen situations where marketers have been accused of not delivering because they’re not closing leads, the job of the sales team! Marketing is just pre-sales, especially in a startup where its only purpose is to drive qualified leads. But it gets treated as the ugly sister of sales, the first thing to be cut in the budget when times are hard-when it’s the absolute last thing that should be cut. The only way to rectify this problem, that I can see, is to do two things: a) Metrics: we need to start introducing these throughout our work so that we can justify the investment in marketing resource and show how it contributes to sales and b) Stop viewing marketing and sales as the same thing and view them as one and the same instead.

    1. Hi Lyra

      Thanks for your comment. I agree about the metrics too (I did a post on this before). Opinion is fair enough but numbers don’t lie!


  2. Oh Janet, who said that and where do they live?! I’m only joking. But I’m not surprised at this comment at all. Almost everywhere that I have worked (before Learning Pool of course) saw Marketing as an expense and no more than just ‘advertising’! And while they still made sales, the sales people had a much tougher job as they, in effect, were also marketing. Some Marketing departments may spend incorrectly and get side tracked by ‘pretty designs’ but a good Marketing team that sings from the same hymn sheet as the Sales team is a valuable asset to an organisation.

    1. Hi Leanne

      Thanks covering my back! It’s hard for a sales team to be expected to do the marketing too although, in very small companies this is often a necessity. Tough job though, you need to have the skills for both.


  3. Our Head of Marketing was Learning Pool’s first senior hire all those years ago – what a good move that was!

    Thanks Janet for helping us create something very beautiful 🙂 Great pic btw.

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