Banbury Howard

Sales and marketing / the chicken and the egg

We have read with interest the thoughts of Neil Rackham, who, at a recent event hosted by the Sales Leadership Alliance, suggested that marketers could take on responsibility for transactional sales. It brings to the fore the somewhat edgy relationship that is often found between the sales and marketing functions.

We have often been challenged on which function comes first and, to us, it is something of a chicken and egg scenario. Both are working towards the same end result, without sales there is no business but, in our brand-driven society, without marketing support is there really any chance of a successful sale?

It is here that we think the answer lies…or does it?! In the creation of a product or service, much work is done on creating the right brand – the look and feel, the words and pictures, the very soul of the product. And then there is all the support that marketing can give for the sales process, from strategy, through the generation and warming of leads, to the production of the collateral used during the sale itself.

But one could still argue that at the very essence of that product or service, before any of the branding work was even started, the sale was at the heart of the concept.

Both departments will claim their precedence over the other, and we don’t see that that is set to change quickly, but one thing is for sure…the relationship between the two departments should be an easy, close one, the two working hand in hand, each contributing to strategy, to maximise potential.

And should marketers assume responsibility for transactional purchases, in which the sales team has really had no hand? Well, possibly. But by the very nature of these sales, putting into place any feasible framework for measuring personal responsibility could be a huge undertaking. You can’t treat a chicken and an egg in the same way, and the same goes for sales and marketing!