When it comes to sales and marketing, I’ve spent the majority of my career on the marketing side. Either working at an agency providing support to businesses, or as a freelance consultant in branding, communications, advertising, and strategy.
It was always a bit of a Debbie Downer moment when our team would present a strategy or campaign or something we thought was super smart to the client (usually the marketing team) and they would agree, “That’s super smart!”.
But then later in the meeting someone would inevitably say, “But I don’t know if the sales team is going to like it.”
Or worse, the client would leave the meeting and us with the feeling we had hit the nail on the proverbial head but three days later we’d hear . . . “We’re having trouble convincing sales that this is the direction to go in,” or “Sales doesn’t get how this is going to help them reach their numbers.”
Occasionally someone from sales would attend a meeting where we’d be talking about a brand strategy or something else “market-y” and the body language from that person was rarely encouraging. “That’s nice, but how is it going to help me convince my customers to place larger orders?”
They were always the toughest, most skeptical nuts to crack in the room. I often felt they were missing the point, fixated on numbers, and unable to see the bigger picture.
So over the years, I started to think of sales teams as party poopers and apparently I wasn’t alone.
According to Harvard Business Review, when sales and marketing executives were asked about the terms they use to describe each other, 87% of the responses were negative. Terms that sales used to describe marketing included, “paper pushers,” “academic,” and “irrelevant.”
Marketing described sales as, “simple minded,” “cowboys,” and “incompetent.” And we might as well add “party pooper” to that list.
It was a rift I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. How could two parts of a company that were routinely mentioned in the same sentence be so at odds with each other? How could they ever agree on what the goal was and how to accomplish it?