Sales Sues Marketing at SDSW18

A Tale of Two Departments

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Market analytics and the booming amount of screen time an individual spends in a day has given brands a huge crowbar, giving them leverage over the customer like they’ve never had before.

For marketing and sales teams, this means an ever increasing amount of leads. It should be simple: more leads means more sales. But like so many things that seem simple, it’s just not the case.

Many things can go awry along the journey from lead to customer. As a sales expert and growth guru, it would be easy for me to ‘root for the hometeam’ – to use a yankee term – and blame this disparity on bad leads. An abundance of leads is good. An abundance of bad leads, not so much.

But just like it takes two to tango, it often takes two to blow a deal. The two here being marketing and sales.


Sales Sues Marketing: A Courtroom Drama

When I was young, I told my Dad I wanted to be an actor. He looked at me and said, “I don’t want my son to be a waiter.” So, I became a salesperson.

But this past week, I got a taste of the acting life. At San Diego Startup Week, my team and I – with the help of some fantastic professionals and entrepreneurs – put on a courtroom-themed drama where (you guessed it) sales sued marketing.

It was the classic story. I, as sales, blamed marketing for bad leads. Marketing blamed sales for poor relationship building, lack of follow through, and being a bombastic attention hog – ouch! This was all in good fun, but still, in the business world, it’s a serious matter.

When sales and marketing try to get a win over one another in this way, there will always be a biggest loser: the investors.


Lessons From the Donut Shop

Sometimes, getting a bad lead to buy is like getting a lion to eat an apple: it just won’t work. Other times, marketing sends the sales team a koala, but sales guffaws thinking, “we’ll make more money selling zebra steak.”

Though this can seem to pit marketing vs sales, this is simply a fundamental breakdown in communication and strategization. It’s not about marketing wanting one thing and sales another; it’s about working together as a team to achieve the common goal of increasing revenue and growing BIG.

That’s why at the Business Institute for Growth (BIG), my team and I look at sales and business development from a comprehensive, 360 degree view. We understand sales doesn’t happen without input from marketing, and vice versa.

Marketing gets to know the customer. They understand their pain points within the market and what they want. They put a good face on the brand, giving the brand authority, and ultimately, gaining trust.

Sales, on the other hand, takes this market research, and further develops an understanding of the pain points of specific customers. By getting into the details with each customer, they position themselves to help customers make the right business decisions.

Customers with access to huge amounts of information are much further along the buying process. Still, the role of a highly skilled salesperson is still incredibly valuable to the customer in assisting in solving their pain points and achieving their goals.

Now we have the ingredients. So how do we put this all together to ‘bake the cake’? Well, really I should say ‘fry the donut’.

Dunkin’ Donuts is a prime example of when sales and marketing can come together to revitalize a brand. In 2003 Dunkin’ Donuts changed its focus from Donuts to coffee, bringing espresso items onto the menu, reconfiguring stores, and even featuring a steaming cup of coffee as its logo.

Marketing understood the growing trend of health-conscious consumers no longer wanted to stuff their faces with a dozen fried sugar bombs for breakfast. They also saw an increasing market share for coffee.

But surely, this didn’t happen without some input from sales. Switching from a low-margin item like donuts to a high-margin item like coffee was sure to make a few VP’s smile. Now Dunkin’ Donuts sells more coffee than donuts. Perhaps a name change is in order.


How Inkjets Paint the Bottom Line Black

But it isn’t always so easy for sales and marketing to get along. In fact, sometimes it’s good for the two departments to have a bit of separation.

A prime example are inkjet printers. Hewlett Packard knows computer users want a convenient way to print documents at home.

The problem is, most people won’t shell up thousands of dollars for a printer. These low margins are sure to make sales a bit – uneasy. But luckily for Hewlett Packard – and all of us too lazy to go to the print shop – they found a way to meet customer needs while staying profitable. The secret: sell ink cartridges at a huge mark up.

By selling printers at extremely low margins – sometimes even at a loss – or giving them away in packaged deals, Hewlett Packard and other printer makers have hooked customers into buying their products for years to come.

Though marketing and sales must communicate and work together to achieve success, by maintaining some autocracy and focusing on their individual concerns, they actually create something much more than 1+1=2.


What You Do, What You Sell, and How You Make Your Money

From the customer’s perspective, these three aspects of your company may look the same. But from your perspective – and the perspective of your investors – these three things are quite distinct.

At the Business Institute for Growth, my team and I will help you pin down each aspect of your business, in order for you to capitalize and GoBIG. We’ll help you GoBIG in what you do, GoBIG in what you sell, and GoBIG in how you make your money.

By utilizing your marketing team to understand where opportunities lie, and using your sales team to understand and address specific clients’ pain points, you create a robust and comprehensive sales strategy, allowing you to GoBIG and ‘move the needle’ every time.

Want to learn how to grow your business? Sign up for the Business Institute for Growth, where you’ll learn to optimize your marketing and sales strategies with a focus on growing your revenue. Learn more.


Chris Stock


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Chris Stock

Chris Stock is one of the world’s leading sales experts. He is founder of the Business Institute for Growth based in San Diego. BIG supports entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises grow their business, through growth expertise, know-how and strategic vision.

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