sales department


What is it about sales and marketing teams that creates misunderstandings and conflict? At the core of what each does is understanding the customers the company serves. However, their outlook is a bit different, which can lead to friction.


Talk to a sales leader, and they’ll tell you they could live without marketing. Talk to the marketing director and they’ll tell you sales makes their lives difficult and they wish they’d just get on board. The misunderstandings likely come from the different focus of each department.


Why Do Marketing and Sales Not Get Along?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salaries of marketing directors and sales managers are almost neck and neck. Sales Managers have a median pay rate of $132,290 per year, and Marketing Managers make $133,380 per year. There’s little reason for jealousy between the two professions, so just what is going on that causes so many heated conversations?


At first glance, you’d think they have similar goals, but the misunderstandings likely occur because of the different focus of each department. Marketing looks at audience segments and general statistics, while sales focuses on each individual client and their needs. Although they both want the same end result–company growth–the path to get there can be quite different for each.


Understanding one another better might help them get along. When sales and marketing departments work together, the entire company benefits as well as the brand’s clients. Here are some of the top misconceptions and what you can do to circumvent them.


Misconception # 1: Leads Happen Because of Numbers

Marketing often sees sales as a numbers game. The more leads, the more chances to sell to someone. However, there are limited hours in the day and a limited budget as to how many salespeople the company can hire. Numbers don’t always equal more sales.


The truth is that a lead is only viable if they fall within the buyer persona description and need the product or service the company offers. Marketing can help sales by sending highly qualified leads and sales can help marketing by closing the deal and improving conversion rates.


Marketing might assume they understand the target audience. In truth, they should talk to sales about the needs of the average customer. Analytics only paints so much of the picture. For a full portrait, you must find out what customers say when they talk to the sales staff.


Misconception # 2: Marketing Emails Make the Sales

There are more than 2.9 billion email users globally, or about one-third of the people in the world. Although emails can be an effective form of marketing, sales happen outside the email itself. However, assuming an email is the only thing needed to convert browsers into buyers is a misconception.


Customers often have questions even after reading an email and the sales department can best answer those queries and close the sale.


Misconception # 3: The Sales Department Just Parties All the Time

Some misconceptions are rooted in what others see, but sales is about so much more than taking out clients and buying them dinner and drinks. Sure, that can be part of the relationship building required to schmooze clients. However, sales does much more and utilizes their budget for training and skill development.


Judging how another department head utilizes their funds is a waste of time and energy. Focus on how to better utilize your own budget. Work with the head of sales to do combined training sessions and keep the lines of communication open.


Misconception # 4: People Are Born Salesman

While there are some natural abilities that make one person better at sales than another, expecting new hires to know the ins and outs of the business from day one is a bit unrealistic.


When companies hit growth spurts, they may hire new trainees. Marketing can easily grow frustrated if they send leads to the sales department and new employees fail to close the deal.


However, allowing a bit more time for training can make a huge difference in conversion rates. Talk to the more experienced employees on the team about how to best help the newbies solidify deals.


Misconception # 5: Sales Happen Fast

In today’s highly digital world, it’s easy to assume a customer goes to the website, makes their way through the sales funnel and buys from the company. However, sales often require a bit more effort than that.


When it comes to lead generation, about 61% of marketing professionals cite it as their top priority. However, what happens after you find those leads means the difference between success and failure.


Marketing wants to see results fast. They send the leads, the leads buy products, rinse and repeat. However, sales often have to build to that point and not every lead that comes their way results in a customer.


Misconception # 6: Sales Staff Have No Scruples

Thanks to scenes in Hollywood movies and a handful of sly salespeople, marketing teams may have the misconception that sales staff are unscrupulous. However, sales staff are just like anyone else in the company. A few might be willing to bend the truth, but most will be good people just trying to make a living.


When dealing with others, assume the best of them. Communication is key to clearing up misunderstandings. People sometimes make mistakes or you can misconstrue their intentions.


What Can You Do About Common Misconceptions Between Marketing and Sales

Take time to get to know the people on the other half of the sales funnel. You’ll work on promotions together, you pushing a product and them selling it. Do combined training sessions, have team building events and communicate with one another whenever possible.


You both work for the same company. No one wants their job to disappear, so ensuring the brand finds success is important to both marketing and sales. Start with that common cause and build from there. The more you get to know one another, the less misconceptions there will be.


Eleanor Hecks is the editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.