Marketing and Sales is a Relationship

Today we’re discussing relationships, and I’m not talking about the mushy stuff. I’m talking about business relationships. But while we’re on the subject, if you are married then you have probably heard the phrase “Relationships are built on trust and communication”. That saying rings true for both personal life and business. Although I’m not qualified to be your marriage relationship counselor, I am qualified to be your marketing relationship counselor. The relationship between sales and marketing is analogous with a marriage. You both occupy space under the same roof and must work together toward a common goal: profitability for your organization.

marketing and sales relationship

The Marketer

Marketing and sales are indeed fighting in a war. But, they’re not fighting against each other. They are fighting a common opponent, the obstacle of overcoming and obtaining business growth (revenue and brand value). Here is my quick requirement of the role:

  • Own the brand: Like the foundation of a house, everything starts with the brand. Whether or not your organization’s leadership places value on its brand is another story altogether. To own the brand you have to maintain standards in consistency for its usage to control the message and visual identity.
  • Guide overall marketing strategy: It is your role as a marketer to contribute to and help build strategies that meet goals and objectives. Whether the goals are brand or lead generation centric, it is your job to detail plans, creative campaigns, and manage execution.
  • Work closely with and support sales efforts: This may include helping to build lead generation programs, customize lead scoring and reporting, maintain accurate data, provide sales collateral, creative support, and more.
  • Take responsibility for metrics: Set up and manage metrics, analytics and overall measurement of various tactics and campaigns.
  • Be a Creative Marketer: If sales are the warriors on the front lines, marketing is in the operation command center ensuring that everyone is placed in the best possible position to win the sale.

The Seller

Organizations who are sales-driven tend to produce results. Results now are good in the short term, but may not be effective long term. This is why working together with marketing can achieve increased results. Here is an overview of the sales role:

  • Own the client relationship: You are truly on the front lines, interacting daily with customers and prospects alike. You maintain interaction, service, and ultimately own the relationship for the company. Would you like to own more? Talk to marketing.
  • Gather critical client information: We all know how much people in sales love taking notes and putting those notes into Salesforce or some other CRM (sense my sarcasm?). No, sales people are typically action-oriented and like to out and about making things happen. However, don’t forget to LISTEN and gather those important nuggets of information from your client – they can be really useful for your marketing “spouse”.
  • Interpersonal communication: Constant communication, follow up, rapport building, and follow through. Those are all important aspects a person in a sales role must have. Be sure to keep the brand and overall marketing strategy in mind when you communicate the message.
  • Close the sale: That is your job, right? Anything that has to do with evaluating needs, gaining interest, providing proposals, closing the sale, and onboarding the client (in many companies), falls in to your basket. Think about how you can work with your marketing peers to help you close more sales.

As we can see, just like in a marriage, this marketing and sales relationship, sometimes referred to as Smarketing, has to work together to be successful. Sure, in some situations sales can run along on its own and maybe close a few deals. Just like Hank the husband can run off with his buddies on a golf trip weekend and have a good time. But, is that a long term and viable plan for Hank’s success in life? Probably not. All kidding aside, you can see the story line here – work together.


  • Highly aligned organizations, where marketing and sales work together, have consistently shown 15%+ increase in profitability. This increase in margin is usually due to the ability to target the right customers.
  • Organizations who closely align sales and marketing show faster revenue generation by 20%+.
  • When marketing and sales are not aligned, it is common to see signs of decreased company culture, communication, and blurred job responsibilities. This can lead to lower close rates for sales and a lack of transparency in customer data.

Tips to ensure a great relationship so everyone wins:

Speak the same language: You’ve probably read or heard about the book The 5 Love Languages. Some of that can be applied to any interpersonal or organizational relationship. We have to respect and trust each other, applying that through clear communication. Marketing needs input from sales to do its job right and set forth a winning marketing strategy. Sales needs input and support from marketing to present the best possible brand and to help generate new interested prospects. Together we can practice mapping the ideal customer journey (new and existing). Try bringing in a consultant to help guide that process. Using the same scale for measurement for goals and objectives the path will be easier.

Work together to gain customer feedback: The sales team has intimate knowledge of the existing customer base and is able to gain feedback and personal stories. This is critical information to help shape and determine both marketing and advertising strategy and targets. Marketing can help plan and execute on needed campaigns, bring forth industry data and deliver creative ideas to better engage customers based on the feedback from existing customers.

Support each other in the execution of any campaign or marketing strategy: It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about core brand messaging or a new digital ad campaign, marketing and sales must be in line with communicating and staying consistent. Marketing often casts a large net, but we need to coordinate with sales to refine campaigns and gain the most traction. Consistency between marketing campaigns and sales outreach will help shape ROI in any campaign.

It is not always easy to get two groups who are used to working independently on the same page. This is typically more difficult for the sales team because they are like a lone wolf who thrives out in the wild and on the hunt. But, when these groups come together, communicate effectively and follow a plan the sky is the limit.

This article is geared toward organizations that maintain separate marketing and sales business units. Some of the perspective for this comes from a business to business (B2B) model.