Correcting the “Disconnect” Between Sales and Marketing in Corporate America

Corporate America has significantly changed over the last 30 years. Excellence and exceptional performance, once the cornerstone of Corporate America, have degenerated in some cases to a complacent mediocrity that just doesn’t seem to care. Maintaining “status quo” has become more important than creating products and programs that address true market needs. One of the symptoms of this affliction is a definitive “disconnect” between marketing and sales.

I recently had a conversation with an HR manager for a large corporation about their prerequisites for personnel in their marketing department. She told me that they take people with graduate degrees in Marketing, Brand Management, etc., to fill these spots. Coming from the “old school”, I immediately challenged this policy. I asked why they didn’t fill the positions with people from their sales group. After all, these are the people that deal with the accounts everyday and know what the customers want and need. Her answer was that sales people “try to do too much” and therefore are never brought into marketing.

How can “trying to do too much” be a bad thing? Where I’m from, those are the people you want to hire. They have initiative, drive, etc. In addition, creativity is not the result of a graduate degree. It is a talent that you either have or not. Period. It cannot be taught.  No amount of schooling can instill this quality.

So what is the relevance of a graduate degree in marketing, brand management, etc? What does it mean in practical terms? It certainly may give someone tools to do research and provide insights into the methodologies of various marketing disciplines. However, it cannot teach creativity and this is the driving force in marketing. Without pure creativity, what do you really have?


The function of sales is to sell. It is to create solid relationships between the company and the customer, therefore driving a wedge between that customer and the competition. This is accomplished by helping the customer to identify their needs and provide long term solutions that address those needs now and in the future. Only by proving that you are there to create success for the customer do you earn the trust to be considered as a business partner. By doing this you break into their “trust zone”. More than likely, the customer now buys from you rather than you having to sell them.

The salesman that achieves this result is also a good psychologist. They know when to listen, when to talk……when to be aggressive, when to be more passive. It is their job to become the value proposition to the account, the reason the customer buys from that company. The result is a partnership based on trust where all doors of potential are now open – competitive marketing information, free focus group studies, etc. This salesman is now viewed as a trusted business partner by the customer. More than likely, this will be a very profitable and long term relationship due to a job well done

The Importance of Pure Creativity

Marketing can be the crown jewel of an organization or its greatest detriment. Great marketing is driven by exceptional creativity. This results in superior planning and proper utilization of all the tools that contribute to an effective new product campaign. It is absolutely essential to the success of any company. However, the best sales force in the world cannot sell poorly conceived products or programs. Nor should they even try. It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that their marketing department has a truly creative leader and avails itself of every resource available to come up with the best in product and promotional ideas.

Marketing should have a Creative Director or someone heading up an Innovation unit to discover new trends and address them on a continuous basis. My experience has shown me that most of these departments are very complacent, satisfied with the status quo. Not a whole lot of creativity, which should be what drives the entire department. Creativity is the engine that leads and makes necessary the rest of the “marketing train”, i.e., sourcing, packaging, branding, etc. Without this creative funnel being fed, neither marketing nor sales have anything to do. Eventually, this leads to the death of the company.

If this is the case, marketing should be communicating with sales for this “read” on the market, taking the information that sales has discovered and creating products and programs to address these needs. Period. They are trained in the methodologies of advertising and how to properly bring a product to market. However, they can’t do this without creative and new information on the market. If they can’t find it on their own, they should rely on sales to provide this information to them.

Sales and marketing should work together in a synergistic fashion where one function enhances and strengthens the other. They are simply different sides of the same coin. Unfortunately, some marketing departments do not fully utilize the information available to them from sales. This can result in a product or program that wastes company resources as well as not addressing true market needs. Or they may bring in consulting groups to answer questions that could easily be provided by sales.

Think about that. Bringing in a consulting group that has no intimate relationship with your customer base nor any practical experience with your company and how it approaches the industry. In my estimation, this is lunacy. There is a perfect consulting group that knows the customer and how the company is positioned in the industry…….it’s called the sales department. It doesn’t cost anything to use and has much more relevant information to offer marketing.


Attack the market with enthusiasm. Throw heart and soul into using every resource available to become the innovator, the leader……the best. Get excited again. Call on marketing and sales to work together as a team to find the best solutions to every challenge. No exceptions.

New guidelines should be established to create a close knit relationship between these departments. Sales and marketing should have a constant feedback loop going on. In fact, marketing should make it policy to accompany sales on a regular basis with important key accounts calls.

Sales can school marketing on interpretation of customer reactions based on their relationships with them and marketing can train sales to conduct “Focus Group Studies”. This turns the sales person into a virtual marketing department in the field on every call and a consistent source of relevant marketing information. It also strengthens the bond between the two departments and creates a great relationship between the customer and company. Customers become creative partners and appreciate being asked what they need, what they think, etc.

This interaction between the departments also facilitates a mutual understanding of the functions of each to the other. Ideas and consumer insights that sales brings to marketing can then be further refined between the two departments until a consensus is reached that defines the ultimate solution.

This is a simple and elegant process that can be repeated again and again to keep the creative pipeline full of ideas just waiting for implementation. The more it is practiced, the more streamlined the process becomes. It creates a synergistic environment for the “Perfect Storm” of creative execution. Everyone works together, enhancing customer relationships and maintaining a proactive stance that may very well propel the company to the top of their industry.

Creativity Cannot Be Taught

Like any artistic talent, creativity cannot be taught.  One either has it or not.  It is engine that drives all new ideas, the innovative force behind every blockbuster product or program. It is the agent of change that makes all the difference between the “want to bes” and the real players. Creativity is the key to all potential. It is a precious gift and yields extraordinary results when utililzed properly.


Therefore, in order to best enhance position in their respective industry, I would encourage any company to look within for answers and remember that graduate degrees in any discipline can only teach book knowledge. They cannot teach pure creativity. Seek out those people with the creative spark, the ones that think “out of the box”. These people are the sources for real growth. They will change your company from a slow moving hulk to a nimble and formidable sales/marketing machine.

Get the sales and marketing departments working together and you will find they are natural companions. Creativity will be greatly enhanced and focused. Once unified, they have the potential to accomplish much more and refine each other in the process. Go back to the “old school” ways and be innovative in all you do.


Marketing: The Blood for All Business

When it comes to any business, the value of strategic marketing, the blood for all business, cannot be ignored. Marketing covers planning, SWOT analysis, consumer behavior, budget and the other factors that affect how the company’s goods appeal to the target customers. Without it, people would not know that a product or service exists, what it is about, and if it is a necessity or want. What is important is to include the consumer in the definition, as without it, there would not be any business at all.

Marketing has many definitions, but the most common is that it is the process of identifying and distributing the products and services that offer a value to the consumer. It also means building and maintaining the customer’s relationship with the business. It is what defines a business and differentiates it from others.

Importance of Marketing

No business should be without someone in charge of marketing. In fact, no business would ever get off the ground without a good marketing plan. Identifying the product itself is already a step in marketing. The target customers should also be identified along with details on demographics, attitudes and perceptions, and purchase behavior. Then, the product is matched with the target market information. This ensures that consumers will actually buy the company’s products. The marketing plan also includes steps on how to retain these customers and keep them loyal to the brand. But, there’s more to marketing than these steps. Effective marketing needs to be strategic.

What makes strategic marketing the blood for all business enterprises is that it keeps the customers coming. Clearly, marketing is a process and it should serve as a guide for making decisions on everything about the product/s. The process has to be continuous and resources should be allocated to it. The goal of strategic marketing is to help the company achieve its revenue targets among others.

Here are some more of the benefits that clearly underscore the importance of strategic marketing for businesses:

1. Marketing Allows the Company to Quickly Adapt to Changes – part of strategic marketing requires that the business keep abreast of developments in the industry and in the economic environment it operates in. This way, it will be ready to grab opportunities or to steer clear of hurdles when they present themselves. Being prepared for contingencies is one of the elements of an effective strategic marketing plan. Whether the changes are positive or negative, a good marketing plan should allow the company to make the most out of the situation.

2. Marketing Keeps Businesses Competitive – a SWOT analysis is an essential part of a strategic marketing plan. This involves the identification of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These are often reviewed vis-à-vis the competitive landscape. Marketing intelligence is necessary to scope out the competition and find out why consumers are buying their products. The challenge in improving the company’s products and services is to avoid being labeled as copycats. The trick to capturing the competitors’ market share as well is to “top” what they are offering with better product benefits or features.

3. Marketing Stimulates Sales Faster – more than advertising, it is marketing that actually keeps the cash register ringing. Advertising can only do so much when it comes to attracting customers. Marketing is the one that compels them to buy and to keep on buying the products. Marketing comes up with the right packaging, pricing, and promotions to stimulate sales faster.

Marketing Initiatives

Throughout the marketing process, there are several initiatives that can be included. A marketing plan is usually drawn up as part of the annual business plan. The marketing plan for the coming year is usually based on the previous year’s plans unless the business wants to undertake drastic changes in response to market, industry, or environmental developments. Among the marketing initiatives that are detailed in marketing plans include: tapping new market segments, exploring new market areas, repackaging products, developing and launching new products, and holding promotions for products that need a little push.

To come up with these initiatives, the marketing departments do research either through their own in-house team or by hiring an external research agency. The scope of research requirements could vary depending on what initiatives the company would like to explore. Benchmarking studies are common for businesses offering services. Focus group discussions on user attitudes and interests and surveys on product preferences and usage are usual for products selling fast moving consumer goods. For reliable and usable research results, the objectives of the study should be in sync with the marketing goals as well.

Businesses should understand that there is no one-size-fits-all marketing. Each business should be clear about what its goals and objectives are and should tailor-fit its marketing plan accordingly. It needs to be clear about its target market and come up with creative ways to meet their needs and wants. Only by making strategic marketing the blood for all business can real profits be generated and sustained over the long term.