Marketing vs Sales – Which is more Important?


Marketing and Sales have always been in a debate about who is more important, who gets the glory and contributes more to the success of a company. Having been on both sides I can clearly see where the discussion gets hot and how each of the sides sees the other.


The approach


Marketers are trying to tell a story, where sales people focus on asking questions. A marketer is interested in presenting a captivating campaign. They talk about the customer testimonials, focus on the happy and attractive side of the product. The sales people have one goal in mind – how to turn the right buttons of this individual to make them exchange money.

Whereas marketers often work with the most satisfied customers, collecting stories for a blog or social media post, sales people see the good, the bad and the ugly. All complains, objections, the pure craziness of people – they must deal with all of this. At some point, you might find yourself spending 90% of your time talking to the unhappy people, trying to fix things and only 10% with the happy ones. Marketing is saved from this honour.


Pull vs Push


Marketing’s goal is to pull people towards the business. Using attractive ads, smart targeting, telling interesting stories, marketers search ways to provoke interest and reaction. Sales people must push once there is the slightest interest. Even by personality a sales job converts people in more outgoing, approaching and even a bit stubborn. This is why communication between marketing and sales can sometimes be very difficult.


Art vs Science


Some say that marketing is art and sales is math, but I think it is the opposite. Marketing is demanding more and more analytics skills and precision. Digital marketing channels like Google and Facebook ads allow very precise tracking of data, which is why marketers of today must be excellent analysts. They spend most of their time working on Excel, Google Analytics and CRM data to identify trends and measure success. There is a creative part of marketing, but a lot of it gets outsourced to professional designers, editors and writers. The real marketers are using more and more data to take strategic decisions even on the creative side.

Sales on the other hand is a performance art. Every call places you are on a stage with a new audience and you must adjust your act to have a successful performance. I do not want to say in any way that sales people lie, but their profession involves a lot of the skill of an actor. This means sensing the audience, feeling even the subtlest reactions, presenting and adjusting your voice and words to appeal to the customer.


Immediate vs Long-term


Sales people want things done NOW, meaning yesterday. They demand speed, because they are used to it. Their world is dynamic and adaptable to change. Their success depends on the level of action they take – the more they call, the more people they meet, the more messages they send, the more sales they are likely to get. The problem is that to a man with a hammer the world is a nail. When sales people approach a marketing problem they tend to have one answer – just do more of it!

This does not correspond well with the way marketing works. Short-term oriented marketing campaigns are not likely to be that successful. Tell a marketer you need 100% more leads this weekend, they cannot to help you. For a great marketing campaign, you need patience. It involves coming with the right message, identifying the channels, timing and frequency. Once all these factors are fine-tuned, one successful marketing execution can save a whole sales cycle. If you focus on getting leads this week without strategy, you are likely to achieve nothing.


Generating vs Converting


The role of marketing in the cycle is to generate the leads. This involves getting people to call the business, request information, fill out a form, write an email. The next stages of the cycle depend on the sales team. Marketing only can only get you that far. Sales must get these people in whom marketing sparked some interest with their campaign to act.

Sometimes sales people come with the argument that marketing is not doing a good job in converting the leads in paying customers. They would blame the leads they get for not being interested, not enough qualified, but this falls in the sales people’s responsibility. Getting people excited and qualified to buy the product is much more of a sales job, than marketing. A marketer can only get a prospect to a certain level of interest. To drive an immediate action, there is a necessity of a sales person work.


Being personal vs talking to the mass


The prime function of a great sales person is to convert the leads they get by using their personality. As marketers speak to a big mass of people, their message can only be vaguely personalised, this is why they have a more universal messages. In the eyes of the customer, the sales person is the living representation of the company and its values. A marketing message can talk to the customer and get them interested, but with the sales person they can form a real relationship. Sales people like to go in detail about who their ideal customer is, they do not generalize, because they see every of their customers as an individual. This is why it is sometimes difficult for a marketer to understand the feedback they get from sales about the leads they speak with.

Sometimes sales would come up with a request for marketing: Please, target only  While sales are being sure that this is who their prospect is, a marketer knows their channels do not allow them to go too niche. Marketing tools are for a mass reach and cannot function well if the scope s too narrow. There is a difference between marketing segments and the micro segments which only a sales person can recognise.


People vs Product


For a sales a person is always coming first and the product becomes personalized through their pitch. Most of the times customers take a decision based on their affinity with the sales person. Having trust and sometimes pure fondness of the sales person gets transferred over to the product they sell. I like this product, because I associate it with this person, who has been so good to me.

When it comes to marketing, the product story and presentation comes first. Marketers think of customers as groups, rather than as individuals. These groups have similar traits and similar problem. This is way in the marketing message the product gets presented as a solution.


Marketers work with personas – a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Sales works with individuals, they know their stories, they are interested in their uniqueness. Marketing is searching for the similarities, so they can reach a large enough relevant group to have an effect with their campaign.