Marketing isn’t sales. Sales isn’t marketing.

In a recent post, I alluded to the interplay of marketing and sales in organizational design. If you don’t feel like clicking that link, here’s the relevant bit:

Frequently, sales positions are listed as marketing opportunities in company job listings. While sales and marketing have to be aligned, they’re not the same function. I’ve been in organizations where marketing reported to sales, and some where sales reports to marketing. The best organization design – the one that understands the role of marketing – has them as colleagues.

It shouldn’t surprise me that companies still don’t get this, as I’ve seen it repeatedly throughout my career. Part of the problem is that many would-be marketers don’t understand all the aspects of marketing, and many business people automatically think they know marketing. (Want to have a little fun? Ask people to explain the four P’s of marketing.)

So what’s the difference? Let me go back to the four P’s:

  • Price – marketing sets pricing strategy. Sales shouldn’t do this.
  • Product – marketing is involved in product strategy. Marketing helps determine what should be sold, and sales sells it.
  • Promotion – this is what most people think of as marketing. Promoting products to generate leads for sales to follow up on.
  • Place – marketing also works on product delivery channels. How are we going to get the products we’ve helped create, price, and promote to market? Direct sales may be one way.

That’s a pretty simplistic explanation, and professional sales people will tell you there’s a lot more to it. They’re right, of course. Sales is an equal strategic partner to marketing, but they’re not the same thing.

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